November 26, 2019

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Tax Credit Scholarships

November 26, 2019


Empower Illinois SGO Information (opens Tuesday, February 27 at 7p.m.):

Empower Illinois announced that its tax credit scholarship application will open on Tuesday, February 27 at 7 p.m. through its website,

In addition to the new date and time, Empower Illinois is implementing a change to how it will accept applications. The application will now be a two-step process in an effort to make it more convenient for families and provide more time for them to complete the application. This new process will also help Empower Illinois better manage the expected demand for scholarships.
Step One – Registration: On February 27 at 7 p.m., families will complete a brief online form with their name and contact information, child’s name and preferred school. The goal of this step is to fulfill the first come, first served nature of the application. Every registration form will be time stamped and will determine each family’s place in line to complete the application. Families will be able to access the registration page of Empower Illinois’ website from a computer or mobile device. 

Step Two – Application: After families reserve their place in line by completing the registration form, families will be emailed a unique link to complete the actual application. The application links will be sent on a rolling basis, over a few weeks, so families should not be alarmed if they do not receive a link immediately. After receiving the application email, families will have three days to complete the full application and submit all required documents at a time that is most convenient for them. To help families, Empower Illinois will provide application support through their website and phone helpline (855.318.1222).  

It is important to note that scholarships will still be awarded on a first come, first served basis. As mentioned above, Step one of the application process will determine each family’s place in line, so it’s important that families complete the form as soon as possible on Tuesday, February 27.

Documents Required for Tax Credit Scholarship Applications

Household Income:
* Form 1040 (Federal Tax Return), Page 1 & 2 only, 2016 or 2017
* If business owner, complete tax return required
* If you do not file taxes, provide other evidence of income such as W-2, recent pay
  stubs, Form 1099, official letter from employer, disability statement

Proof of Residence (one of the following):
* Illinois Driver's License with current address
* Illinois State ID with current address
* Utility bill with name and current address

Evidence of Child's Age for Kindergarten and 1st Grade students only (one of the following)
* Birth certificate
* Passport

Public Assistance (provide documentation if receive benefits for):

Families should know:
* Number of the Public School District in which the household resides
* Example: #299 for Chicago Public School System


Big Shoulders Fund Tax Credit Scholarship


For Families: The Big Shoulders Fund Tax Credit Scholarship Program application, made possible by Illinois’ Invest in Kids Act, opened in January 2019. The Program allows donors to restrict their contribution to a particular school or subset of schools. Big Shoulders Fund currently has some remaining restricted funding available for a few schools for whom we do not have any eligible applicants. Due to this remaining donor-restricted funding, we have re-opened the tax credit scholarship application for a limited time.


Applicants are awarded in date-time stamp order. Therefore, unless your school or Big Shoulders Fund has specifically contacted you, there most likely is no current funding available for your school or we already have eligible applicants for your school and we encourage you to contact your school for other scholarship opportunities.

Link to application:


For Donors: Already reserved your tax credit through MyTax Illinois? Click HERE to make your contribution online, or mail with your Contribution Authorization Certification and Designation Form to Big Shoulders Fund (212 W. Van Buren St., Suite 900, Chicago, IL, 60607).


The Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program, made possible by the Illinois Invest in Kids Act, provides donors a unique opportunity to contribute to scholarships that help lower-income families send their children to private schools — while reducing their own tax bill on dollars otherwise owed to the state. Big Shoulders Fund has been approved by the Illinois Department of Revenue to participate as a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) through this program, which means your donations can support Big Shoulders Fund.


The program enables individuals and corporations to reserve Illinois income tax credits based on contributions made to SGOs. The organizations then provide scholarships for eligible students to attend nonpublic schools, with priority given to low-income students. Taxpayers may apply 75 percent of the total contributed as a tax credit against their Illinois income tax bill. For example, a taxpayer making a $1,000 qualified contribution would be awarded a $750 tax credit. The credits are capped at $1 million per taxpayer per year.


For more information about how to reserve your tax credit and contribute to the Big Shoulders Fund SGO, please review the following documents or visit


If you need assistance making your contribution you can contact us at or 312.751.8337.



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