Tax Program Enables Access to Jewish Day Schools

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The EITC initiative allows contributors to entities such as the Foundation for Jewish Day Schools to claim a 75 percent tax credit on their returns. The credit can be increased to 90 percent as part of a pledge to contribute for two years.

The Foundation for Jewish Day Schools is a nonprofit that provides needs-based scholarships to students from low- and moderate-income homes who might not otherwise have access to Jewish-content education.
Last year, the foundation awarded almost $5 million in scholarships, enabling close to 700 children to attend a Jewish day school, as well as more than $500,000 for 200-plus pre-school students.
A program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, the foundation is supported by businesses and individuals that participate in the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. The EITC initiative allows contributors to entities such as the Foundation for Jewish Day Schools to claim a 75 percent tax credit on their returns. The credit can be increased to 90 percent as part of a pledge to contribute for two years.
The application deadline this year for new businesses to participate is July 1.
Beverly Bernstein is the educational director of OROT, a program for special needs kids in Jewish day schools in Philadelphia. She said the foundation and the EITC program are important to their mission.
“The foundation is extraordinarily helpful,” Bernstein said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.” As for the funds garnered through EITC, Bernstein said, “special education is very expensive and so that really helps defray the costs and give larger scholarships.”
New and small businesses such as Rachel Schwartz Design, LLC can also participate in the EITC program.  Owner Rachel Schwartz is on the executive board of Perelman Jewish Day School, where her three children attend school.
“It’s important for me to support the school. I didn’t give a huge gift, but it’s a unique way for me to offset my taxes,” she said. “The more children we enable to go to Jewish day school, the more we strengthen our community and future Jewish leaders.”
The scholarships also create a more heterogeneous school community.
Judy Groner, head of school at Perelman, said, “For us, EITC is an incredible program that enables us to provide additional scholarships to students with limited financial needs.”
Rabbi Ira Budow has been at Abrams Hebrew Academy in Yardley for 35 years. Budow, who’s now head of school, calls the EITC program “a game changer.”
“It is the best program in the Philadelphia area for [day] schools and, without it, we would not exist,” he said. “It changes the chemistry of a scholarship kid because he’s not only dependent on the school, the school is dependent on him because the scholarship kids bring money to the school. It adds up.”
Schwartz feels that the program is a no-brainer.
“You can give this money, and you get 90 percent of it back. Who wouldn’t participate?” she said. “It shows [that giving] is not just about the heavy hitters. If lots of people like me get together, we can make a difference.”
Contact:  [email protected]; 215-832-0747
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Liz Spikol is the Jewish Exponent's editor in chief; she has worked for the publication for four years. Prior to that she was at Philadelphia magazine, Curbed Philly and the before-its-time Tek Lado, a magazine for bilingual Latinx geeks. She is active in the American Jewish Press Association and contributes to the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, Baltimore Jewish Times, Washington Jewish Week and Phoenix Jewish News. A Philly native, Spikol got a bachelor's degree at Oberlin College and a master's at the University of Texas at Austin. She lives in Mt. Airy.

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