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I’m fighting for tax credit scholarships on behalf of my grandson. My son, his father, attended the local public school and became very lost. He ended up not graduating and became involved in drugs. He is not involved in my grandson’s life. My grandson’s mother cares for him with the help of her parents who are immigrants from Mexico, and she works full time. I try to help as much as I can, and I promised her I would try to save enough money to send my grandson to a private school by junior high, because that is when my son started going down the wrong path.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, my grandson’s public school moved to e-learning. I work the night shift as a nurse, so I would pick him up after work and sit with him during the day while he attended class online. My grandson is very bright – he was doing the second grade spelling curriculum in first grade – so he would get bored during Zoom class because the teacher would review the same lesson a few times. He was getting very fidgety, and I was exhausted, so it didn’t take long to realize that we needed to find something different.

I started looking at Catholic schools that had openings, because my grandson’s mother and her parents are religious and always wanted him to attend a Catholic school. It was difficult to figure out how we would pay for it, as a good amount of the tuition is required upfront, along with uniforms, etc. I thought, “I’ll take a second job if I have to.” I researched different avenues for financial aid and eventually found Empower Illinois. Finally in December we were able to get a scholarship for my grandson. It was such a blessing and huge relief for me financially.

My grandson is thriving at his new school and loves it. He does not have many male role models in his life, so to have a male principal he looks up to who knows his name has made a huge impact. Additionally, his mother and grandparents are very happy he’s able to get a religious education and participate in the sacraments, like First Communion.

When I saw Governor Pritzker’s announcement to cut the Tax Credit Scholarship Program, I was devastated. It helped us so much in a time of need, and I’m sure we’re not the only family who will be impacted. Neither of my grandson’s parents graduated college, and I really want him to succeed. He’s really adjusting well to his new school and doing much better in a smaller class, but I don’t think we will be able to afford the tuition without this scholarship.

Especially with the pandemic, so many families are struggling with online school and childcare. I’m sure there are a lot of families who don’t even know about the Tax Credit Scholarship Program – I didn’t! If the program was cut and we didn’t receive a scholarship, it would be a huge burden on my grandson’s mother and our family. I wish more people would understand that education isn’t one size fits all. The government has focused a lot on COVID-19 relief, but to cut back on this particular service would be a detriment to so many families.

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