Contact: Rachel Bold

 Early success of Invest in Kids welcomed

Governor caps Catholic Schools Week with stop in Rock Island

ROCK ISLAND - With more than $45 million in donations and thousands of applications already having been submitted, the state’s new Invest in Kids program is off to a great start.

“Thanks to our state’s new tax-credit scholarship program, more parents will have greater school choices for their children,” said Gov. Bruce Rauner before he toured Jordan Catholic School in Rock Island today. “Invest in Kids will open so many doors of opportunity for students to enroll in schools that best suit their needs.”

The visit corresponded with Catholic Schools Week, which concludes Saturday, Feb. 3, and was part of the governor’s post State of the State tour.

More than 205,000 students attended 892 registered nonpublic schools in Illinois in the 2016-17 school year, according to Illinois State Board of Education data. Jordan Catholic School Principal Jacob Smithers said 385 students presently are enrolled in the pre-K-8 school on 24th Street in Rock Island, and he looks forward to welcoming more as parents begin to access the newly generated scholarship funding.

“Clearly, the need is there for parents to have a choice,” Smithers said. “It’s not always feasible to have that choice … due to whatever their economic or financial status may be.

“This opportunity is beneficial for everyone involved, both in and out of the school,” he continued. “It’s good for the communities themselves.”

Invest in Kids, which offers an income tax credit equal to 75 percent of approved contributions, attracted more than $36 million in its first day early last month, and totaled just over $45.4 million this week. The money will be funneled through scholarship-granting organizations — one of which fielded more than 11,000 applications on its first day — and offers students in low- to middle-income families the opportunity to attend non-public schools.

Rep. Dan Swanson, R-Alpha, also attended the Rock Island school tour.

“I was proud to support the Invest in Kids Scholarship program because of the increased opportunity this program provides to children who may not otherwise get assistance for their education,” Swanson said. “The selection process must be honest and fair, but I believe this will provide great opportunity to boost a lot of kids and working families in need of a helping hand throughout Illinois.”

Rauner said seeing the Invest in Kids program enacted has been a highlight for his administration.

“When we give our students the tools they need to succeed, all of Illinois reaps the benefits,” he said. “Our new program brings more opportunities to communities and students in Illinois where they are needed most.”

For more information regarding the Invest in Kids program and how to donate click here.