The Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia provides scholarship opportunities for low-income families with students from kindergarten to eighth grade at more than 160 private and parochial schools.
The deadline to apply for Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia (CSFP) for the 2016-2017 school year is fast approaching, and executive director Ina Lipman is urging families to take advantage of the program before it’s too late.
The program provides scholarship opportunities for low-income families with students from kindergarten to eighth grade at “over 160 private and parochial schools,” according to its website.
Even though the deadline to apply for this year is March 1, Lipman is already trying to make sure that next year, the fund will be able to give financial aid to even more students.
“Next year, we’ll have about 6,500 kids receiving scholarships,” Lipman said. “Right now, we’re giving out close to $10 million to Philadelphia children to attend K-eighth grade private schools.”
Students who receive the scholarships — for which there is no application fee — can go to any affiliated tuition-based school of the family’s choosing in Philadelphia, including Jewish day schools. Lipman estimated around 60 students who go to Jewish day schools, from Politz Hebrew Academy to Torah Academy of Greater Philadelphia, were awarded scholarships for this school year.
“It’s a major plus for us, for our families,” said Besie Katz, head of school at Politz Hebrew Academy. “Families for whom sending [their kids] to a Jewish day school is not an option — they struggle and sacrifice for much. It allows them to send children while relieving some of the burden.”
While she is unsure of the number of students who were awarded scholarships this year from CSFP, she estimated about 20 families benefited from it for this school year.
The scholarships are “mutually benefiting,” she added.
From the CSFP scholarships, Katz said, the families “have another source of scholarship and source of help to alleviate the burden. At the same time, it helps the school because we believe in helping all of our families; it takes off some of the burden on us, and we’re able to allocate other scholarship monies that are not recipients of the scholarship fund.”
The school offers other scholarships for students in need from other sources of scholarship monies, she said, to further aid families who want their children to receive a Jewish day school education.
Politz has been associated with CSFP since it began, and Katz said they are grateful for the opportunities it provides for students.
“We’re very grateful there is such an organization that recognizes that there are children attending private schools that do not have major endowments or major scholarship wells from which to draw,” Katz said, “and that they believe in the type of education that we give and they want to help those families. We are grateful for their help on behalf of those families and on behalf of our school.”
Each year, Lipman said, they campaign to raise more to provide for more students, and having the current educational climate in the limelight has helped. They will be able to provide an additional 2,000 scholarships for the 2016-2017 school year.
“Because the visibility and need have become more apparent in the Philadelphia philanthropic community,” she said, “we are very confident we’ll be able to stay at that increased level and be able to — at least in the near or long term — continue to issue 2,000 more four-year scholarships as we go past the campaign.”
The program operates through a lottery system and gives families an opportunity to receive up to $2,500 in scholarships per child. Meaning, Lipman explained, a family with three children, for example, could receive up to 12 years of aid from the program.
As a parent herself, Lipman said it’s been “thrilling” for her to see the impact CSFP has had on families and students.
“When children receive a quality early education in good schools, the building blocks are there,” she said. She referenced a survey that showed the students who benefit from the scholarships go on to graduate high school after eighth grade at rates “greater than 96 percent — and at grade level, which is significant.”
Lipman is looking forward to watching the program, which started in 2001, grow even more and provide more aid to students.
“It’s been wonderful to see the kids grow up,” she said, “and to go from 1,200 scholarships when I started to this year, when we’ll have issued a little over 20,000 scholarships to area children.”
Applications can be found online at www.csfphiladelphia.org.
Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0740