Illinois lawmakers asked to renew Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program

CHICAGO – Families, school leaders, and community advocates gathered today on Chicago’s south side to challenge Illinois lawmakers to save their scholarships by renewing the Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which is set to expire at the end of the year.


“Families should have the ability to choose the right school, especially those from low-income communities of color, which offer a robust education with excellent programs and extracurricular activities that too many students of color don’t always have access to,” said Fr. Michael Pfleger. “The majority of families being served by the Tax Credit Scholarship Program are Black or Latino and barely have enough resources to survive. I am tired of people telling me they care about children but don’t take action. If legislators don’t do their job and vote to continue this program, children will be hurt and their education disrupted.” 


“I’m proud to serve as principal of the high school that taught me so much as a student and a young man,” said Shaka Rawls, principal and alum of Leo High School in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood. “In addition to preparing me for college, Leo shaped my understanding of being mission-driven and taught me the importance of service to my community. It’s vitally important that we continue to provide the same educational opportunities to this generation and beyond. The financial model for Leo only works with generous partnerships in the form of financial aid and scholarships. The Tax Credit Scholarship Program is one of those critical pathways for our students, and it must be made permanent.”


If the Illinois General Assembly fails to take action in 2023 to save the Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program, then 9,500 students from low-income families will lose their scholarships, causing many to leave their best-fit school; additionally, the dreams of 26,000 more students on the waitlist will evaporate if the program is reduced or even eliminated. If the General Assembly fails to act, their inaction will disproportionately harm Black and Brown students from low-income families.


Maria Paz, a parent of a Tax Credit Scholar, added, “Thanks to this scholarship, my daughter, Delilah, a sophomore at St. Francis de Sales High School in Chicago, can access the additional resources that will help her to reach her full potential. Like Delilah, I grew up on the southeast side but back then there was no program like this for my parents, so I went to public school. I never felt like I was seen or heard there and I always knew I wanted more for Delilah. Her dream is to become a journalist and at St. Francis, she has leaders like Principal Roni, who have her back, know what her goals are, and make them possible. If the scholarship went away, it would be traumatic for her and I worry her goals would be further out of reach.”


Since the Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program began, nearly 41,000 scholarships have been awarded to kids from low-income and working-class families. These scholarships have helped students find their best-fit education, but tens of thousands more are still waiting for assistance.


The Illinois General Assembly will reconvene for its veto session in late October when they will have the opportunity to provide educational stability to vulnerable families by renewing the Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program.


About the Invest in Kids Act

The bipartisan Invest in Kids Act passed in 2017 and created the Evidence-Based Funding model for public schools and Illinois’ Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to kids from low-income and working-class families to attend their best-fit private school. All students qualify based on financial need. Since the program’s inception, nearly 41,000 scholarships have been awarded statewide.