Gail Clark

Gail Clark

“My older son went to a public charter school, but when my younger son started there, I saw a large shift from what had been taught to my older son. They started to spend so much more time on behavioral issues, it was leaving behind the students who were academically accelerated. It wasn’t giving them the opportunity and attention that they needed academically.”

“I wanted my son to be able to put academics first. He’s beyond grade level, and I didn’t want him to be left sitting in the back of the classroom because the school thinks, ‘Oh well, you’re doing better than 80% of your class, so you’re okay. We’re going to focus on everybody else and hopefully you’ll get where you need to be.’”

“At the time, I was a teaching assistant. I made less than $30,000 a year. Private school without a scholarship was not an option for me.”

“My two sons applied for the Empower scholarship. One son got it, the other didn’t, but it was enough to give us an opportunity.”

“If Invest in Kids sunsets, we would probably move out of state. The scholarship is the only thing that has kept us here for the last six years.”

“The majority of Hope Academy students come from this area, where a lot of our families live in poverty. The average salary is less than $50,000 a year for a family of five. If it comes down to the education of the student or feeding their families, a lot of kids will have to leave their schools.”

“It’s unfortunate because a lot of our students are kids who would otherwise be lost in the back of the classroom.”

“These are funds that wouldn’t be coming to the public schools anyway. That money is money that neither of us would see if this program died. It’s not being taken away from a public school. It’s donations – money that we network for or build relationships for. It’s coming from a completely different pool than what public schools are getting. Just because someone wants to support our students.”

“All our students should have this opportunity.”

Gail Clark
Executive assistant to the president, Chicago Hope Academy
Chicago, Illinois

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