PUNXSUTAWNEY — Over $199,000 in scholarships were announced Wednesday at the Punxsutawney Christian School (PCS) as part of the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program.
Lori Galbraith, PCS administrator, welcomed the guests to her school for the presentation of the money to area private and parochial schools through Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) scholarship donations.
Galbraith said PCS is thankful for the Bridge Foundation and its continued support by blessing their families with scholarships.
"They help make it affordable for many of our families to obtain private education for their children," Galbraith said.
She said these opportunities would not exist without the EITC program.
"We thank the companies represented here today for participating in this program and helping to educate our future workforce," Galbraith said.
She said we would like to thank the legislators who have enacted laws that have made the EITC program program possible.
Galbraith said PCS appreciated the opportunity to host this event at their school.
Pete Gleason, chair of the Bridge Educational Foundation, offered opening remarks, "School choice is once again a hot topic in Harrisburg," he said.
"For the last decade, the EITC program has success fully partnered with parents and the business community to provide school choice through scholarships.
Sen. Joe Scarnnati, president pro-tem of the Pennsylvania Senate, said the Bridge Educational Foundation and the EITC program are an important resource and an important resource for Pennsylvania students and their families.
"The program provides businesses with an opportunity to get involved in their community, while helping offer children and parents more educational choices," said Scarnati, adding that thanks to community minded sponsors, thousands of children and families across Pennsylvania are benefiting from EITC scholarships.
"I am proud to support this program and important investment in our community," he said.
Rep. Sam Smith, speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, said it was an honor and pleasure to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the EITC program with friends and family of PCS.
"These scholarships will open doors to educational opportunities that many families never would have thought possible," Smith said.
"I've always been a strong supporter of EITC, and it's encouraging to see this unique partnership between businesses, families and non-profit scholarship organizations, like the Bridge Foundation, continuing to have a strong impact locally."
Rep. Matt Gabler stated, "Scholar-ships awarded through the EITC program allow parents in Clearfield and Elk counties to make educational choices for their family and increase opportunities for learning.
"EITC is a program I wholeheartedly endorse because it enhances opportunities for students in both public and private school," Gabler said.
"We should be thankful for the generosity of those businesses who recognize the value of a quality education and donate to the community through the Bridge Educational Foundation," he said.
Joe Gerdes of the Bridge Foundation, said the strong advocates of the EITC program that are represented here have had a strong impact on Pennsylvania families.
"Thank you to our donor companies and local elected officials for supporting this wonderful program," Gerdes said.
He said the scholarship donations announced were part of the Pennsylvania Pre-Kindergarten and K-12 EITC programs.
The Pre-Kindergarten initiative provides companies with a tax credit equal to 100-percent of the first $10,000 contributed to a pre-kindergarten scholarship organization during the taxable year, and may receive a tax credit equal to 90-percent of any additional amount contributed during the year, up to a maximum of $200,000 per year through the Pre-K program, said Gerdes.
The K-12 EITC tuition program provides companies with a 75-percent tax credit — 90-percent for a two-year commitment — for funds through scholarships, he said.
"We thank the companies here today for participating in this program and helping to educate our future work-force," said Gerdes.
Sponsors who made the scholarship funds possible were:
• Associated Wholesalers, Inc. and Leyo's, Goodman's Foodliner, Waste Management, CSX Transportation, RBC Capital Markets, UnitedHealthcare and XTO Energy.
EITC qualified families at the following schools were eligible to receive these scholarships:
• Saints Cosmas and Damian School in Punxsy; Punxsutawney Christian School; DuBois Area Catholic School; DuBois Christian School; St. Leo School in Ridgway; St. Boniface School in Kersey; and Elk County Catholic School System in St. Marys.
The total amount of the scholarship money given was $199,175.