The Invest in Kids program offers a 75% income tax credit to individual and businesses that donate part of their incomes to qualified scholarship granting organizations. Eligible qualified scholarship granting organizations are organized funds that provide scholarship assistance with reference to tuition-charging private schools. The organizations and their funds, which are affiliated with specific private schools and groups of private schools, provide help to students from households that face challenges in meeting a school’s tuition bills. The Illinois Department of Revenue is authorized to issue up to $75 million in tax credits per calendar year to donors to the Invest in Kids program.
In its first year, 2018, Invest in Kids raised $61.4 million for scholarship assistance. Almost three-fourth of these funds were raised by Empower Illinois, a Chicago-based 501-c-3 organization that has taken a key role in implementing the Invest in Kids program and fighting to ensure its support base. In the current cycle of Invest in Kids scholarship applications, which opened on January 15, 2020, and will cover tuition for the 2020-21 school year, Empower Illinois reported that they received nearly 25,000 applications for scholarship assistance. The inquiries came in during a 36-hour period after the 2020-21 application window opened. While this level of public interest may mean that not everyone who applied will be able to get aid in the 2020-21 school year, the high level of popular support indicates the continued vital nature of this program.
House Republicans played a key role in helping to enact Invest in Kids in 2017 and are fighting to protect and extend the life of this vital program.