inspirED

Meet our scholars, educators, donors, and partners.

Transforming Our Community.
One Scholarship at a Time.

Step Up For Students Scholarships do more than fund education. They change lives. Students thrive in environments that fit their needs. Educators extend their reach to support vulnerable students. Communities grow stronger as educational systems improve.

This is inspireEd. Welcome.

Here, you will get an inside view of that transformation in progress. See what happens when students and their families discover the power of taking control over their academics. Watch as they forge new pathways to a better future. Find inspiration in their determination to achieve their dreams.

These are the stories of Florida students who have renewed hope because they have a school that better fits their needs or educational materials to unlock their potential. They are the stories of a community that has come together to support the belief that educational choice matters. Here, you can be a part of this incredible journey.

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State, Step Up working to fund students

Several families with students on the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities (FES-UA, formerly Gardiner) and the income-based Family Empowerment Scholarship-Educational Options (FES-EO) recently have expressed frustration with delays in the first quarterly payment to their scholarships. Today, Step Up For Students and the Florida Department of Education sent this joint email to […]
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Adelante! Why a former Step Up scholar completed his UF degree during rookie season in NFL

Where to begin with CJ Henderson? That the former Step Up For Students scholar used his time wisely at Christopher Columbus High in Miami and earned a football scholarship to the University of Florida? That he turned three seasons with the Florida Gators into an NFL career, and in 2020 was drafted ninth overall by […]
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Tips on transitioning your child to a new school or learning environment

The Buddy Bench found on the playground at Christ the King Catholic School in Jacksonville is a yellow beacon that helps new students find playmates, make friends, and ease the transition to their new school. The Lunch Bunch provides the same opportunities, but in a private setting. These are two examples offered by Amanda McCook, […]
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Tips on picking the right school for your child

Because of the expanded eligibility requirements that went into effect July 1, more families in Florida are eligible for private school scholarships managed by Step Up For Students. The Family Empowerment Scholarship is now available to families with higher incomes, up to nearly $100,000 per year for a family of four. Also, dependents of active-duty members of the armed forces, […]
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Meet Kayla

While attending her neighborhood school growing up, Kayla felt like she didn’t belong and wasn’t being challenged. Her mother believed she’d benefit from more individualized attention but couldn’t afford tuition at schools offering those environments. Then, she found Step Up For Students! Kayla received the Florida Tax Credit scholarship for lower-income K-12 students, which afforded […]
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Lake City Christian Academy

Lake City Christian Academy Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on the redefinED blog on Dec. 14, 2015. By TRAVIS PILLOW, redefinED One recent morning, Tana Norris walked into the small building that houses the makeshift dance studio at her North Florida private school. “I’m a dancer!” Stephen, an 11th-grader, responded. He and some classmates […]
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PenTab, Miami Gardens

PenTab, Miami Gardens By Sherri Ackerman When PenTab Academy opened 13 years ago inside a Miami Gardens church, it had one teacher and five students. The school was part of a ministry led by Pastor Robert Stewart of Pentecostal Tabernacle International. He turned his office into a classroom to provide the congregation and community with […]
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Katie Cutford

Katie Cutford By Sherri Ackerman When Katie Cutford attended her neighborhood district school in Lake City, classmates sometimes made fun of her thick glasses and fainting spells. Katie has juvenile glaucoma and POTS (Postural Tachycardia Syndrome), a heart condition that causes her to occasionally lose consciousness. Her younger brother, Caleb Cutford, diagnosed with cerebral palsy […]
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The Garnes Children

The Garnes Children By Sherri Ackerman When her three eldest children were ready to start their formal education, Deidre Christopher-Garnes sent them to their neighborhood district school. It worked well for her daughters, Malkia and Rukiya. But her son, Osakwe, really struggled in the third grade. “He needed more help in math and science,” Christopher-Garnes said. […]
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The Cherry Family

The Cherry Family By Sherri Ackerman When Demetrius Cherry’s commissions plummeted at his cell phone sales job two years ago, his family of six lost their house in Land O’ Lakes and moved in with friends. “We were literally homeless,’’ recalled his wife, Nina Cherry. Within a few months, her husband found another job at […]
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