Jan. 31 was the first day that families of K-12 students who attend one of the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois could apply for a “Tax Credit Scholarship” made possible by the Invest in Kids Act that was signed into law last year by the governor.
“Our schools are doing a really good job of getting information out to both donors and parents,” said Brandi Borries, diocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools. “Some even set up times in their computer labs for parents to come in and fill out the application.”
For example, Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield made staff and volunteers available to assist applicants with computer access to Empower Illinois, one of the nonprofit entities created to distribute moneys donated by businesses and individuals that fund the scholarships. The law provides donors a 75 percent state income tax credit in return. Scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis until it’s gone.
“There is still plenty of time to donate funds toward scholarships,” said Shaun Riedell, diocesan director of development. “There are misconceptions that the small window to donate has passed and nothing could be further from the truth.” Donors have until April to commit.
Invest in Kids was part of the education funding package worked out last year during the overtime session that extended well into the summer. The Catholic Conference of Illinois along with the Catholic bishops of Illinois were instrumental in getting all parties to agree to establishing the landmark school tax credit pilot program.
In a December 2017 letter to major donors and supporters, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki wrote that “ ... it is critical we move quickly to ensure we do not lose the opportunity to have the funds designated to Catholic schools in our diocese.”
At press time, more than $41.5 million in donations has been received by the Illinois Department of Revenue. The program is capped at $100 million.
Information on income eligibility and how to apply for the scholarship can be found at the diocese website dio.org/schools/investinkids.