Will you be our hero?

Help bring MyScholarShop to life.

You still have time to make a difference

through a tax-deductible gift this year.

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For about three years, Step Up For Students has helped personalize the education of children with certain special needs in Florida. With the Gardiner Scholarship Program, parents choose to use funds on everything from private school tuition, home-schooling curriculum, occupational therapies, computers to iPads and more.

But, it hasn’t come without challenges.

Our Gardiner families have told us because it is a reimbursement program, using the scholarship can be financially challenging. After paying out-of-pocket expenses, then awaiting reimbursement, some worry their credit card bill will come faster than the money from their Gardiner accounts. For these families who face many challenges daily, the worry of losing a receipt can be nerve-wracking. They’ve also shared it is difficult to find time to complete the reimbursement request process in a busy day filled with school, therapist and medical appointments and more. And sometimes even just selecting a therapist or going from store to store to get the right tools and supplies for their children is exhausting.

In January, Step Up For Students plans to begin rolling out MyScholarShop, a one-stop shop for our Gardiner families, which will eventually be open to our income-based Florida Tax Credit Scholarship families, too. MyScholarShop is an online market for educational supplies, tuition, services and more. It is being built specifically with Step Up’s Gardiner families in mind with the goal to make the scholarship easier to use so parents can get back precious time with their children. It eliminates the need for keeping track of receipts and will put thousands of eligible purchases and other resources at their fingertips.

Here’s how it will work: Imagine you’re the parent of a child on the autism spectrum. You need to purchase home-schooling curriculum and a sensory-calming chair. You log onto MyScholarShop, check your scholarship account balance, select your pre-approved items, checkout and the two items soon arrive at your door.

MyScholarShop will eliminate the need for parents to pay and wait sometimes weeks for reimbursement. It’s as easy as “Pick it. Click it. Ship it.” 

“This system will be an absolute game-changer for families like mine 
who have a child with special needs.
“This could not be realized without the steadfast support from donors. 
Thank you."
—Nathan Nadeau, principal of a Step Up partner school and
parent of a Step Up Gardiner scholar 

Introducing some of Step Up's Gardiner Scholarship recipients 

Meet Dominic Nadeau

Early on, Nathan and Mariana Nadeau noticed their eldest son Dominic didn’t seem to be hitting the typical milestones when most children would. They began to worry.

“He couldn’t talk at a year and a half, not one single word,” his father, Nathan Nadeau, said. “Everyone tells you he’s fine, but you have to trust your gut. We got him into language therapy.”

The uncertainty continued until Dominic was 5. That’s when the official diagnosis came: autism spectrum disorder. Nathan and wife, Mariana, knew they needed help. To learn more about Dominic and his school, where his father is principal, click here

You can help make things simpler for the Nadeau family and so many others.  

Meet Nicholas and Danielle Famiano

Nicholas Famiano was born with spina bifida. His sister Danielle was diagnosed at age 2 with autism spectrum disorder and cerebral palsy. They wound up in foster care where few people believed in them. It seemed these two young children would forever ping-pong in the system. That changed when then-foster care volunteer Dorothy Famiano stepped into their lives by chance. The siblings grabbed her by the heart with a grip so tight it never slipped no matter what people said. Dorothy knew she could give them the care – and the love – they so deserved. She gave them her name. More importantly, she gave them a family. Click here to read more about Nicholas and Danielle. 

You can help Dorothy give Nicholas and Danielle the education they deserve.

Meet Treston "Trey" Futrell

Besides being born with fetal alcohol syndrome, Treston Futrell who answers to "Trey" for short, was diagnosed with mosaic Down syndrome, a type of Down syndrome in which a percentage of a person’s cells have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. Missy and Carl Futrell spotted his profile among many other children in need of forever homes. Adoption coordinators said Trey wouldn’t be a good choice for them, but the Futrells couldn’t forget the photograph of the 18-month-boy. His autistic tendencies didn’t discourage them from making Trey their own son. After 13 years of marriage, Trey gave them the family they always wanted, and they gave him the love he so needed. To hear more about Trey's story, including how his family has utilized the Gardiner Scholarship, click here

With your help, Missy and Carl can give Trey the tools he needs to succeed.

You can provide some relief to these families and many more.

We need your help bringing this system to life.

Your generous gift will automatically double through a matching grant from the Walton Family Foundation, whose mission is “to improve K-12 outcomes for all students.” The foundation has an important belief:

“At the Walton Family Foundation, we believe in the power of philanthropy to create opportunity.”