“We have seven children, and they have all attended St. Mary Nativity and so far, Joliet Catholic Academy. Three of our children have graduated from both so far. And then I have two at JCA now and two at St. Mary Nativity. We’ve had a lot of experience in those Catholic schools.”

“My husband works and I’m a stay-at-home mom, so it’s always been my job and focus to make sure we can afford the Catholic schools because it’s important to us. Me especially. My husband and I both attended Catholic grade schools, and I attended Catholic high school. And I wanted that high school experience for my kids, also.”

“I just felt like I received so much from my Catholic high school education compared to his experience in the public high school. It was the simple things. In those four years, there were no fights, no police officers in the building. There was no fear. Those people were my friends and like family to me. So, I felt it was important to offer the same for my children. The teachers treat my kids so well, and they really care.”

“Therefore, a part of my job is to make sure we can afford it and that involves scholarships and applying for financial aid and everything: whatever I can do to help us to be able to keep the kids in the schools that we really love and appreciate all that they do and provide.”

“There’s always just a certain amount of financial aid and a certain number of scholarships. And, honestly, it’s not nearly enough. For example, in my situation with having so many children at different levels and different schools, it’s always been a real struggle. So, when Empower [Illinois] came along, we said, ‘Wow! This is a great!’”

“Ever since it started, I applied for the kids to get the scholarships, and I want to say the first year, we did not receive anything. The second year, they had it more well-tuned, how you could reserve your place in line, etc. And my children, the two that were going to JCA for that school year, they did receive scholarships. They received 75% scholarships which was a godsend.”

“Honestly, when we got to Andrew, my fourth that was going to start high school, we weren’t even sure if we could or should even try for the Catholic high school because at that point it was just so hard. So, with the JCA team working with us, which they’re phenomenal with helping families, we were able to do it and then Andrew did get the Empower scholarship.”

“We just applied for the next school year and I was just informed that all of my children have received scholarships. So, I’m super excited because my grade-school son received one. And that was the first time we got one for the grade school because I think our school doesn’t get as many donations. With Empower getting more donors in the program, there was more funding, so this is the first time we got the grade school scholarship.”

“I’m praying and hoping that the Empower scholarship stays in place because there are so many families that could use it, any amount of help. It makes me sad when I hear people can’t do the private schools because it’s just too much. And I understand that because it’s my job to keep the kids there.”

“It’s so hard and takes so many sacrifices, but I wish that more people could access them because to me, it’s the greatest experience.”

“I can’t go buy my kids a new car when they’re 16, but I’m making sure that they have a great education. I wouldn’t want my kids to have it any other way.”

Amy Collofello
Mother
Joliet, Illinois