Investing in the future
Local families receive scholarship assistance through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program
By Samantha Bambino
Each year, it seems as though tuition costs grow higher. With this constant increase, parents aren’t always able to send their children to the top school on their list. To combat this, several local businesses teamed up with the Bridge Educational Foundation to raise needed funds for local families. At a recent ceremony hosted by St. Katharine Drexel Regional Catholic School in Holland, it was announced that $93,000 were awarded in scholarships thanks to their efforts.
The Bridge Educational Foundation was created 13 years ago by board members of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, or EITC, as a way to get local businesses involved in helping local children. As its name suggests, the foundation serves as a “bridge” between businesses and the EITC. If a company decides to participate, it submits an application to the state to receive tax credits. These can be used to make donations to commonwealth-approved, nonprofit scholar ship organizations such as Bridge, which then distribute the funds to families in need.
According to Natalie Nutt, executive director of Bridge Educational Foundation, in the 13 years since its creation, the organization has raised $28 million in scholarships and serves more than 500 schools in 61 out of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania. In total, the foundation has made a difference in the lives of more than 15,000 families.
At the recent event held at St. Katharine Drexel Regional Catholic School, school officials and families gathered to thank Bridge and its donors, which included Enterprise Holdings, Rent-A-Center, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan and Waste Management.
“It doesn’t work unless all components work together,” Nutt said of the program.
According to her, each business was educated on the benefits of participating in the EITC program and jumped at the chance to help students in the area.
“Enterprise Holdings believes strongly in the value of education,” said Bobby Keyes, vice president and general manager of Enterprise Holdings in Southeastern Pennsylvania. “Our company has helped hundreds of families across Pennsylvania during the 12 years we have participated in Pennsylvania’s EITC program. Our company is celebrating its 60th year in operation and is proud to support the communities that have made it successful over the past six decades.”
Representatives from the other participating businesses shared similar sentiments. According to Corey Coleman of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of PA, children who receive a solid education tend to grow into happier, healthier adults, and he expressed his gratitude in being part of something that’s giving local kids a good head start in life. For Judy Archibald of Waste Management, she sees donations to education benefitting the community in both the present and future.
“These investments to schools and educational programs help ensure the future of our communities by providing students with the opportunity to reach their full potential,” she said. “As members of the community, we believe it is our job to live up to the highest standards of corporate and individual responsibility. The Educational Improvement Tax Credit program in Pennsylvania is surely a win because it benefits the students who will become our future community leaders.”
Also present at the event were state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson and state Reps. Gene DiGirolamo, Scott Petri and Frank Farry, who all showed their support to Bridge and its donors.
“We greatly appreciate their dedication and willingness to partner with our community,” Tomlinson said. “Their support is even more important now as families are struggling to make ends meet.”
According to Nutt, the scholarship amounts awarded vary by family and situation. To apply, parents or guardians must be income qualified and already paying tuition. Usually, school administrators or principals will determine which families could benefit from the program, and encourage them to apply. Scholarships are awarded to students from PreK through 12th grade, and though they are always partial, it gives students opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise had.
“It gives them a little bit of extra help,” Nutt said.
A portion of the $93,000 in scholarships will go to students at St. Katharine Drexel as well as Archbishop Wood High School, Buckingham Friends School, Comprehensive Learning Center, Newtown Friends School, Our Lady of Grace School, Conwell-Egan Catholic High School, Holy Family Regional Catholic School, The Pen Ryn School, St. Charles Borromeo School, St. Ephrem School, St. Michael the Archangel School, St. Joseph/St. Robert School and United Friends School.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org