Adrienne DeLeon

Adrienne DeLeon

“The tax credit scholarships were a light in a dark time for me and my family.”

“When the Empower [Illinois] program started, I wasn’t eligible because I was married, and we were both bringing in pretty decent money. We were a typical dual income home, and I just didn’t qualify.”

“I left my very demanding job in advertising to stay closer to home with our three kids and have more flexibility, and I found work at the local Catholic school. I took a really big pay cut when I went to the school, but we received a discount on tuition.”

“Shortly after my fourth child was born, my husband left.”

“So here I was with four kids, making maybe $28,000. I was struggling to make ends meet. I had a really good friend at the time who was the principal at the school that I was working at. She suggested, No. 1, that I start looking for a better-paying job because there was no way I was going to support four kids on what I was making. And she actually found me the job listing of where I work now, which I am grateful for.”

“After not qualifying the first year, the second year I was able to apply. I applied using my pay stub, and I told them that I was separated because our divorce wasn’t finalized yet. We were separated, and no longer sharing finances in the same manner as when we were married. Thankfully, I got 100% tuition assistance for my kids that first year.”

“That immediately helped our family because I was able to give some stability to my kids during a relatively unstable time at home. The program allowed for me to keep that educational part of their life consistent. It was really important for me to keep them in their school because so much change was already happening at home, school became their escape in a way.”

“And the school was incredibly supportive. They are like a family there. They were watching out for me, and they were watching out for the kids. And the scholarship has helped make this possible. This is the third year that we’ve received scholarships for 75% tuition assistance. It’s such an important program to me because it helps me keep the kids in Catholic school and keeps it affordable for our family.”

“It’s still hard from time to time. While I do have a child support order now, which is good, we still took a hit to my overall income of roughly 40% compared to being a dual income home before taxes. Once you take out everything including bills and health insurance, I would be fighting to keep them in school. While our particular school is still affordable compared to other Catholic schools, I just don’t know if I could do it without the scholarships.”

“I chose Catholic school over the public schools because my niece attended a nearby public school and she was in class with roughly 40 kids. I just couldn’t fathom putting my kids in a school where the ratio is 40 kids to one teacher. I don’t think that they would get the attention that they need.”

“And my niece is having lots of problems with the school because they weren’t giving her the attention that she needed. So, for example, if she acted up at recess, they would just put her in a corner. That doesn’t resolve underlying issues.”

“Second, we’re a pretty devout Catholic family. So, I wanted my kids to have an education grounded in faith. I only went to Catholic school up until about the fourth or fifth grade. And then I transferred out to public school, and I attended a public high school.”

“I missed the church. I missed learning about religion. I missed the spiritual aspect of school, and I wanted that for the kids. I literally bought this house because it was in front of a Catholic school I dreamed of sending my kids to.”

“Every family has a different situation. Not all families are able to be serviced by the public schools. Some families can afford to send their kid to Catholic school and then there’s a divorce, and that can throw a lot of things into limbo. For a long time, I wasn’t comfortable talking about my divorce. It’s embarrassing.”

“I was married for 10 years. And it really came out of left field for me, to go from having the perfect little family and then it just gets thrown up in the air. But it’s OK. I mean, I’m better now. The kids are doing well. We have a roof over our heads, food on the table. I have a lot to be thankful for. The tax credit scholarships have been vital to get us here.”

“I’m back on my feet, and somebody else could use this money now, too.”

“I like the tax credit scholarship program because it gives families a choice, and opportunities that they might not otherwise have. That’s why it can’t go away.”

“The scholarships are why we’re here.”

Adrienne DeLeon
School scholarship manager
Chicago, Illinois

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