Companies earn by supporting tax credit scholarships


I want to tell you about Jose Granados and how businesses can help families like his.

Granados attended the local public school but was traumatized by neighborhood violence on Chicago’s southwest side. Seeking normalcy, the family sought a new life in the suburbs, where Granados’ unique interests and needs matched a nearby private school.

But when a nightmarish cancer diagnosis hit Granados’ father, limited income meant the family couldn’t afford it.

This story is not unique. There are approximately 26,000 children on a waiting list for a scholarship to attend a private school that meets their unique needs. That’s the problem without school choice — or the ability to select which school your child attends — the options are only available to those who can afford it. And if your local school can’t meet your child’s specific needs, you’re out of luck.

Fortunately, as with most local problems, the solution lies with companies.

Let me explain.

In 2017, Illinois passed a landmark education law that provided low-income families with life-changing scholarships so their children could attend qualified non-public schools. This program, called the Investing in Kids Scholarship Tax Credit Program, allows individuals and businesses to donate money for private scholarships and receive a 75-cent tax credit. for every dollar donated.

The program has been a lifeline for a diverse group of students who benefit from expanded educational options and whose families otherwise could not afford to pay for private schools. In 2020, the average annual household income of participants who received scholarships through Empower Illinois, the state’s largest scholarship-giving organization, was just over $38,000.

At least 43% of children on scholarships are students of color. All thanks to the generosity of the program’s investors.

I should note that public schools can be wonderful. New Trier, Stevenson, Hersey and Prospect are among the many amazing local schools. But one school will never suit everyone. The Invest in Kids program finally gave some families a choice.


This is where the solution lies. Only about 1% of donations to Invest in Kids currently come from businesses. When companies get involved, it can help thousands of students on the waiting list.

And our businesses will also benefit. A quality education leads to a stronger, better trained workforce – one of the key assets we have in Illinois.

Additionally, an Illinois Senate bill, SB 3618, introduced by Sen. Antonio Muñoz D-Chicago, would allow corporations to designate particular schools as recipients of their donations — not just scholarship programs. – just as individuals can do under current law. Businesses deserve to invest and give directly to their local communities.

This is a question close to my heart. A few years ago, I received a call from my sister-in-law. His words still echo in my ears: “My son is dropping out of school. I was in a state of disbelief; he’s a smart kid. He had incredible potential.

So why did he drop out during his second year of high school? He was bullied. He was tired of being beaten and exhausted from running away, so he stopped showing up.

Failure will mean a bleak future. I know because my nephew just turned 19 and he doesn’t have a job. He’s still smart, but his potential is fading fast. It breaks my heart.

On the other hand, Granados received a tax credit scholarship. His mum said: “My boys are thriving at the schools they love in a community that has been really supportive of us. The other parents and school staff have just done so much for the kids, offering guidance , walks and making sure they were fed. We only had Christmas because of them.”

The education system has a profound effect on our future. Companies win by supporting the next generation, receiving a tax credit and building a stronger workforce.

• Matt Paprocki is president of the Illinois Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization.

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