OU Advocacy and Jewish Leadership Coalition Mobilize South Florida Community with Tuition Affordability Advocacy Shabbat

Together with the Jewish Leadership Coalition (JLC) and the Boca Raton Synagogue, the Orthodox Union (OU) Advocacy Center hosted its inaugural Tuition Affordability Advocacy event for the South Florida Jewish community recently. The weekend program focused on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship legislation, specifically the portion to expand the legislation’s eligibility requirements to include middle-class families.

OU Advocacy and Jewish community lay leaders meet with former State Rep. Adam Hasner during OU Advocacy and the Jewish Leadership Coalition’s Tuition Affordability Advocacy event. Pictured (l to r): Former State Representative Adam Hasner, OU board member Joseph Bensmihen, OU Advocacy Director of Field Operations Elliot Schreiber, Hillel Head of School Rabbi Samuel Levine, and JLC member and host Daniel Adler.

The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program is the primary instrument JLC uses to provide Jewish day school tuition relief to Florida’s Jewish families. The JLC works with Step Up for Students (SUFS), an organization that helps alleviate educational challenges faced by children in Florida who live in or near poverty, to distribute these scholarships. Currently, 1,100 Jewish children receive tuition relief through JLC and SUFS.

The JLC is working with Florida legislators to expand the eligibility requirements and increase the per-student scholarship amount so that more of Florida’s Jewish families can benefit from the program.

Nearly 1,000 community members attended various parts of the Tuition Affordability Advocacy Shabbat program, which included speeches on Saturday morning by both Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, senior rabbi of Boca Raton Synagogue, and Doug Tuthill, president of the Step Up for Students Scholarship program, about tuition affordability and school choice; a panel discussion Saturday afternoon about the specific policy changes in the upcoming legislation; and a political action meeting Saturday evening, where many community members committed to helping the JLC in its grassroots and advocacy efforts.

“If the eligibility requirements for the tax credit legislation are expanded, the number of Jewish families benefiting from the program could almost triple to 3,000 students and $20-25 million dollars could be distributed to Jewish day schools,” said Elliot Schreiber, director of the JLC. “Including more families in the program creates an equitable and fair framework for school choice options that serve all Florida residents including the Jewish day school community.”