“I am a product of the Chicago Public Schools system and I can say that my foundation was strong at the school in addition to the academic support that my mom and my family gave me. However, for my children, I know that in the city and in the community, disparities exist as far as education and resources local schools can provide in terms of outdated books, a lack of materials, oversized classrooms, sharing of books and so many different other barriers.”

“And I think as a parent you should have a choice whether to send your school-age children to a local community school where you are contributing as a taxpayer to fund. I also know the reality that schools in the far, far north of Chicago versus the south are not equally funded. So, I decided to send them to private school, whether that meant selling fish dinners myself or doing anything to provide those opportunities for them.”

“As a parent you sacrifice to do what’s best for your child. I wanted to give my children a jump start in life. Sending them to private school was my way of setting them up for success.”

“My daughter attended charter school for her first- and second-grade year. And then after her second-grade year, I didn’t like the academic performance of the primary school. The school did pretty well in the lower grades, but I didn’t want her to go from third grade on to eighth grade because their school system wasn’t performing to the standards based on where they were supposed be.”

“That’s when I decided to transfer her in third grade to St. Sabina because they did have a great foundation as far as the academics, in addition to the other optional extracurriculars such as before and after school care, band, chess club, golf club, basketball and other extracurriculars. I am also a woman of faith, and we are a family of faith. I wanted them to be a part of something that’s bigger than me, where they can learn faith around others and they can be able to pray in the morning during their classroom sessions and have those faith conversations comfortably.”

“When the tax credit scholarship first came about, Miss Dumas, the retired principal from St. Sabina made sure she introduced the program to the school and let parents know that there were other opportunities out there to try to seek help with offsetting some of the tuition costs.”

“Being president of the parent-teacher organization at St. Sabina Academy, one of our main goals was to try to help the school with different fundraising efforts to help offset some of the tuition expenses and some of the teachers’ expenses throughout the year. However, that wasn’t always the case depending on the success of the different funds and events that we had.”

“However, when the tax credit scholarship came about, I was somewhat afraid to apply because I thought maybe as a middle-income family that we wouldn’t qualify. However, considering I am the sole provider of the household, my income and our household size qualified us to receive some form of relief.”

“It was not 100%, but a small percentage that helped to bridge the gap between what I had and what the program was able to contribute. Prior to the scholarships, I was paying for it, 100%, by working extra shifts, or things of that nature to try to fill in the gap as needed.”

“When the program came, it was amazing. It was a blessing for us. The very first year, I had before was wait listed, and then about a few weeks before the school started, I received an email from Big Shoulders at the time that my daughter was able to get 30% or 40% covered.”

“Every bit counts, every little bit helps. So that was the extra money able to go into the household for bills, food, expenses to live, etc. Every bit of savings helps our family at some point or the other.”

Syreeta Plummer
Health care coordinator
Chicago, Illinois