Step Up For Students empowers parents to pursue and engage in the most appropriate learning options for their children, with an emphasis on families who lack the financial resources to access these options. By pursuing this mission, we help public education fulfill the promise of equal opportunity.
Step Up For Students is a state-approved nonprofit scholarship funding organization that helps administer two scholarships for Florida schoolchildren: the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC) for low-income families and the Gardiner Scholarship (PLSA) for children with certain special needs.
Public education is rooted in the promise of equal educational opportunity, and nowhere is that covenant more relevant than in the lives of children who live near poverty or for students with certain special needs. A quality education should not be determined by financial means nor disability. Through the scholarships, we empower parents to give their children a chance at a brighter future.
The FTC scholarship program was created to benefit children whose educational options are limited by household income. The scholarships are not tied to the performance of public schools nor the students who receive them. The program is different primarily because it directly targets students with the fewest options available. The latest state-commissioned research determined that students who receive the FTC scholarship are among the lowest-performing in the public schools they leave behind. This means the FTC scholarship is serving the most disadvantaged children in Florida. Our scholarships provide parents a way to help their children find success.
The Gardiner Scholarship (PLSA) helps parents individualize the educational plans for their children with certain special needs.
These scholarships are offered as options in the same way that public education is offering an expanding array of choices. One common mistake people make about these scholarships is to view them as an indictment of public schools. However, they are intended to strengthen public education by offering options to struggling schoolchildren. We consider ourselves to be partners with public schools, and often use the tagline – “helping public education fulfill the promise of equal opportunity” – that represents a genuine expression of how we view our role in the larger education system.