Twins Brian and Leah Davis, who endured bullying in kindergarten at their assigned public school, attend The Foundation Academy in Jacksonville with assistance from a state scholarship administered by Step Up For Students. PHOTO: Lance Rothstein

The Florida Department of Education today unanimously approved the renewal of an application from Step Up For Students as an eligible Scholarship Funding Organization, allowing Step Up to continue administering the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program, the Gardiner Scholarship program, the Hope Scholarship program, the Reading Scholarship program and the Family Empowerment Scholarship program for 2020-21.

Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, served more than 99,700 of Florida’s most economically disadvantaged students on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program last year. The organization was able to serve 11,458 students with unique abilities on the Gardiner Scholarship and is projecting to serve more than 14,000 in the current year.

Additionally, Step Up served 127 students on the Hope Scholarship and 5,639 students on the Reading Scholarship.

Charitable organizations that seek to be a nonprofit funding organization must submit applications for initial approval or renewal to the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice no later than Sept. 1 of each year prior to the school year for which the organization intends to offer scholarships. The Office, in consultation with the Florida Department of Revenue and the state’s Chief Financial Officer, reviews applications, and the Commissioner of Education then recommends approval or denial of the application to the Board of Education.

In a separate vote, the Department unanimously approved the renewal application from the AAA Scholarship Foundation to administer the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program, the Gardiner Scholarship program and the Family Empowerment Scholarship program for 2020-21.

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1 comment

Norma Haygood February 12, 2020 - 4:48 pm

@Stepupforstudents, @GardinerScholarship
May I propose a way to stretch the Gardiner Scholarship funds so that it s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s
Enough to INCLUDE those left on the waiting list that are getting nothing?
“What if” a Gardiner approved tutor was assigned 3 students at higher end of the spectrum, of the same grade level, to teach “x” hours “x days per week at specified “time” simultaneously, via computer Skype type group participation? Tutor gets paid 20k , saving 10k. This would be repeated for as many trios of high function Spectrum children as CHOOSE to be enrolled in that part of the program.
Yes, this program would mean the recipients don’t get the “blanket” 10k but instead trade it in for a more traditional but nuanced way of learning.
Second Option: Scholarships are changed to 8k so NO ONE GETS LEFT OUT ANYMORE.

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