Invest in Kids tax credit scholarships mostly go to Black, Hispanic students

Mailee Smith

Senior Director of Labor Policy and Staff Attorney

Mailee Smith
October 23, 2023

Invest in Kids tax credit scholarships mostly go to Black, Hispanic students

Low-income students from across Illinois receive Invest in Kids scholarships, with the majority going to Black and Hispanic students.

Low-income elementary and high school students from across Illinois are going to lose their school scholarships if lawmakers don’t act soon.

The Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Program, funded by private individuals and companies who receive a tax credit for donating to the program, is set to expire at the end of the year. The Illinois General Assembly has a last chance to extend it during their veto session starting Oct. 24.

The household income of the majority of families who received scholarships in 2022-2023 school year was the equivalent of just $49,025 or less for a family of four. Of those families, 27% live below the poverty line.

Most students receive their scholarships through Empower Illinois, the largest scholarship granting organization in the state. They reported in 2022 at least 53% of the students receiving scholarships were Black or Hispanic. Similarly, Big Shoulders Fund, another large scholarship granting organization in Illinois, reported over 50% of students receiving its scholarships were Black or Latino.

Here’s a region-by-region breakdown of scholarship recipients outlined in Empower Illinois’ report.

Region 1 (includes Chicago, Cicero and Palatine)

  • 3,761 scholarships awarded
  • 208 schools
  • 66% of recipients were Black or Hispanic

Region 2 (includes Naperville, Rockford and Waukegan)

  • 1,187 scholarships awarded
  • 92 schools
  • 46% of recipients were Black or Hispanic

Region 3 (includes Joliet, Moline and Peoria)

  • 851 scholarships awarded
  • 59 schools
  • 44.9% of recipients were Black or Hispanic

Region 4 (includes Bloomington, Champaign and Springfield)

  • 754 scholarships awarded
  • 45 schools
  • 30.2% of recipients were Black or Hispanic

Region 5 (includes Alton, Carbondale and Murphysboro)

  • 465 scholarships awarded
  • 38 schools
  • 15.7% of recipients were Black or Hispanic

As Empower explains in its report, its scholarships more than align with the demographic data of Illinois’ students, with minority students receiving more scholarships than their proportion of the population:

Empower Illinois scholarships align with the state's student demographic data

These minority students from low-income families will lose their scholarships if lawmakers fail to act during veto session. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has indicated he will sign legislation extending the Invest in Kids program, but lawmakers must get legislation to his desk.

Contacting your state lawmakers and asking about their stance on Invest in Kids can help gain traction to extend the program and keep over 9,600 low-income students across Illinois at a school of their choice.

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