Created in 2019, this new program will fund scholarships for 18,000 students from low to middle income families at an average of about $7,000 each. Like the McKay scholarship, the FES will be funded directly from the state’s education budget. Students are eligible to enroll either going into kindergarten or if they have spent the prior school year in attendance at a Florida public school.
Tax Credit Scholarship Programs
In 2018-2019, Florida’s tax-credit scholarship program helped 2,618 students attend 32 Jewish day schools in Florida for a total of $18 million in scholarships.
Students in households earning up to 260% above the poverty line are eligible for scholarships to nonpublic schools, allowing parents to send their children to the school that is best for them. For example, children in a family of four earning $66,950 in 2019–20 will qualify for a scholarship.
108,000 students from across the state attend the nonpublic school of their choice on this scholarship in 2017-18. The majority of students live in households with an average income of $25,000. The scholarship is administered by two non-profits, Step Up for Students and AAA Scholarships. Parents apply directly to either organization for the scholarship on behalf of their child.
2019 Update: The legislature amended the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program to eliminate partial scholarships. All recipients will now receive a FULL scholarship, which is a tremendous boost to students receiving the scholarships.
Gardiner and McKay Scholarship Programs
In 2018-2019, the Gardiner and McKay scholarship programs helped 300 students with special needs attend Jewish day schools in Florida, totaling more than $2 million to Jewish day schools.
Florida’s Gardiner Scholarship Program provides students with special needs an education savings account (ESA), which can be used for qualified educational expenses including tuition, tutoring, therapy, homeschool and even virtual online classes. ESA’s are funded by the state and are given at approximately $10,300 per student. Students do not need to be enrolled in public school to apply for Gardiner. The program included 11,247 students statewide in 2018-2019.
Florida’s John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program was the nation’s first school voucher program for students with special needs. Students with disabilities enrolled in public school for at least one year who have Individualized Education Plans or a 504 accommodation plan are eligible. The student receives the amount the public school would have spent on them, up to the cost of tuition at the school they choose to attend.
Teach Florida won first time state funding for Jewish school security funding of $654,000 in 2017-2018. Since then, we have secured and a threefold increase of $2 million in the state’s 2018-19 budget and $2.5 million in the 2019-2020 budget. We also work with schools to maximize all available federal funding for security through Homeland Security grant applications.
Maximize Government Funding
Teach Florida helps schools navigate government programs and applications to make sure they receive the funds they are due. Our staff meets with school administrators and boards to review programs. Our goal is to make sure our schools receive the federal, state and local funds available to them.
$20 million in state scholarship funds for 2,900 Jewish students for 2018-2019
Secured $2.5 million in security funding for nonpublic schools at risk of terrorism in 2019-20 budget.
28% of Florida’s Jewish students are learning in day schools and yeshivas on state mandated scholarship programs
$90 million in scholarships since 2011
Advocated for successful expansion of tax credit scholarship eligibility and elimination of public school attendance requirement
NEW Family Empowerment Scholarship program funding 18,000 students statewide