By Stephanie Smartschan
JFLV Director of Marketing
On May 2, sixth and seventh grade students from the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley traveled with their teachers and community members to Harrisburg to advocate for issues that are important to them, including the continuance of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.
They joined with 800 students from 13 Jewish day schools and other private schools in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The JDS students had the opportunity to speak with members of the state House of Representatives to thank them and encourage them to continue supporting the EITC program.
“I live in Allentown and if my family did not receive an EITC scholarship from pre-K to 4th grade to help support my Jewish education, I wouldn’t be here today as a 7th grader from the JDS speaking to you,” one student said.
Through the program, Pennsylvania businesses and qualified individuals who make a donation to a registered scholarship organization receive a substantial tax credit and are able to provide scholarships to children across Pennsylvania to assist them in attending the schools of their choice.
The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is a registered scholarship organization, and donations made through Federation support students at the Jewish Day School and Jewish Community Center.
“It makes a significant difference in the minds of the legislators to see students engaging in the political process and advocating for their priorities from an early age,” said Aaron Gorodzinsky, director of outreach and community relations for the Jewish Federation, who accompanied the students on the trip.
One of the most significant parts of the trip, Gorodzinsky said, was sitting down with state Sen. Pat Browne, who is the chair of the Appropriations Committee, and asking him personally to continue to support the program.
“The senator was very impressed by how eloquent and how informed the kids were about the program and the political process,” he said.
Since 2001, the Federation has been able to distribute over $1.8 million in scholarships benefiting low-income families at the JCC and JDS.
Applications must be submitted online on July 2, 2018 (not before) and the Federation helps businesses to prepare and process.
Some companies find that when they add in federal tax deductions, they save the same amount on taxes that they contributed to scholarships.
“It’s such a win-win for businesses,” said Mark L. Goldstein, executive director of the Federation. “They can receive a significant tax credit and feel good knowing they are helping students who need it most.”
New this year, qualified individuals can now participate in the EITC program.
Through a “special purpose entity” set up by Federation, individuals can reduce their personal tax liabilities and contribute to students’ success. Shareholders, partners, members or employees of business firms: most anyone can participate.
To learn more about the EITC program, if you qualify and how to apply ON July 2, 2018, call the Jewish Federation at 610-821-5500 or visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org/eitc.