Series on Free Enterprise: Step Up For Students
A talented workforce is Florida’s best long-term economic strategy. In the most recent Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise, we sat down with Doug Tuthill, President of Step Up For Students to discuss the organization’s scholarship efforts, as well as the need for more flexible education options to ensure all students succeed.
“We’re excited about how things are going,” said Tuthill. “The future of public education is really customization and for too long, 150 plus years, we’ve had a one-size-fits all system.”
Click below to listen to the full podcast.
Help Turn Today’s Learners Into Tomorrow’s Earners
- Sign up for the Florida Chamber’s Business Alliance for Early Learning to help secure Florida’s future through quality early education.
- Hear from Florida’s new Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran during the Florida Chamber’s annual Legislative Fly-In.
- Check out the Florida Chamber Foundations Florida 2030 report which outlines key targets and strategies to help plan for Florida’s future, today.
Signed into law 15 years ago by Gov. Jeb Bush, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship is one of the most innovative education programs in America. This fall, it’s helping 93,000 students access schools that work best for them.
Florida businesses deserve the lion’s share of credit. The corporate community has contributed $2.7 billion, and funded 570,000 scholarships.
“We are enthused about seeing these kids succeed when, chances are, they wouldn’t have in a traditional setting,” said STEVE KNOPIK, CEO of Beall’s, one of the program’s founding donors.
The cause couldn’t be more worthy. Average income for a scholarship family is $24,075, and years of data show scholarship students were typically the ones who struggled most in their prior schools. But now they are making solid progress.
“The program does an excellent job of partnering with schools to distribute scholarships, and makes a difference in so many lives,” said STAN CONNALLY, chairman, president and CEO of Gulf Power, also a founding donor.
Giving is a snap. If your company has a corporate income tax or insurance premium tax liability in Florida, it can earn dollar-for-dollar tax credits in return for contributions to scholarship funding organizations.
Step Up For Students, Florida’s premier scholarship organization, has served students since the program’s inception. It earned a perfect score in accountability from Charity Navigator this year, and a platinum rating from GuideStar. Next year it expects to serve 100,000 students as the state-set contributions cap rises from $559 million to $698 million.
If you’d like to help, click here or call Step Up at 1-866-344-9553.
UPDATE: Sue Happy Teachers Union Seeks Appeal on Helpful Program for Florida Students
Teachers unions strike again as they seek to appeal the ruling on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. In August, First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee struck down a challenge by the Florida Education Association, the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and others to the program.
In a recent blog post by Step Up For Students, Bishop Victor Curry, the chairman of the group calling for the plaintiffs to drop the suit, stated:
“We are very disappointed that the union will continue its effort to evict over 92,000 poor, mostly minority children from schools that are working for them. These children were the worst performers at the public schools they left, and now they are thriving. The union’s decision is wrong for the children, and wrong for our public schools.”
The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program currently serves more than 92,000 students in Florida and allows businesses to help organizations like Step Up For Students provide scholarships for K-12 students from low-income families to attend high-quality private schools, helping to break generational poverty by providing students with exponentially greater educational opportunities for success. Yet, in 2014, the Florida teachers union and the state chapter of the NAACP filed legal challenges to the scholarship program. The Florida Chamber stood for parents and students then, and we continue to do so today.
The Florida Chamber continues to remain focused on ensuring all students in Florida have the opportunity for a quality education that meets their needs. We believe education is quickly replacing tax incentives and the new economic development currency. This is one reason why we actively support the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.
LEARN more by visiting the Florida Chamber’s Education Issue page here.
READ the blog post by Step Up For Students here.
Students and Schools Win with Tax Credit Program
At the Florida Chamber, we believe Florida wins when families have more educational options, which is one reason we have supported programs like Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which empowers parents, provides students with quality learning opportunities and helps our state succeed.
The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program allows businesses to help organizations like Step Up For Students provide scholarships for K-12 students from low-income families to attend high-quality private schools, helping to break generational poverty by providing students with exponentially greater educational opportunities for success. Yet, in 2014, the Florida teachers union and the state chapter of the NAACP filed legal challenges to the scholarship program. The Florida Chamber stood for parents and students then, and we continue to do so today. We are proud of the recent decision to strike down yet another challenge to this helpful program.
“The First District Court of Appeals upheld the circuit court ruling that the teachers’ union and NAACP have no legal standing to challenge Florida’s tax credit scholarship program,” said Pastor Mark Coates, a member of the Save Our Scholarships Coalition. “This program now serves over 90,000 mostly minority children with household incomes of $24,000 per year. A strong coalition of over 200 African American and Latino ministers has denounced the suit, and in January over 10,000 people came to Tallahassee to join MLK III to do the same. We hope the union drops the suit.”
The Florida Chamber will continue to fight for parents and students in order to ensure each child has a chance to succeed. You can read more about the Florida Chamber’s efforts by clicking here.
Businesses can Help Florida’s Students Succeed
Did you know that if your company pays corporate income or insurance premium taxes in Florida, it may be eligible to make a 100 percent, tax-credited contribution that will fund scholarships for low-income children while allowing your corporation to strengthen its corporate responsibility initiatives?
The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program is a Florida Chamber-supported program that allows businesses to help programs like Step Up For Students provide scholarships for K-12 students from low-income families to attend high-quality private schools, helping to break generational poverty by providing students with exponentially greater educational opportunities for success. This year, the program will serve approximately 78,000 students across the Sunshine State.
As of July 1, 2014, the Florida Legislature has made participation in the program even more convenient for corporations. Companies can take advantage of this new approach in January, when the amount of available scholarship tax credits will increase to $559 million. Click here to learn how your business can contribute.
At the Florida Chamber, we believe Florida wins when we place students before special interest agendas and we will continue to support programs that empower parents, provide students with learning opportunities and help our state succeed. To get involved in the Florida Chamber’s education efforts, contact Brittney Burch today.
Written by Sara Clements, Step Up For Students
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The Florida Chamber believes a quality education system is the best way to ensure our students can compete in a global economy. Help spread the word by sharing this video with your friends and co-workers.
Learn more about what the Florida Chamber is doing to improve our state’s education system to transform today’s learners into tomorrow’s earners by clicking here.