Scholarship Students Dazzle Donors at the Step Up For Students’ Celebration of Achievement Event

November 14, 2014 | Tampa, Fla. – Student performers from all over the state stepped onto the stage of the historic Tampa Theatre Thursday to shine the spotlight not only on their high notes, ball-changes and fast-moving fingers, but to also cast the bright light on the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program, which many of the performers use to attend the school that is right for them.

Elementary through high school aged students showcased a variety of talents including sign language, tap dancing, piano and even a steel drum band performance, all in the name of celebrating and showcasing achievements made in their Step Up For Students partner schools.

But the real stars of the talent-show event were the people sitting in the balcony: The program’s donors and supporters who help send some of Florida’s poorest children to schools that best fit their individual learning needs.


The Celebration of Achievement Event was hosted by the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program to thank the program’s donors who this school year are providing nearly 69,000 scholarships for low- income students to use at the school of their parents’ choice.

Step Up For Students helps administer the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to qualified families throughout Florida. The program allows recipients to choose between a scholarship to help with private school tuition and fees, or a transportation scholarship to attend an out-of-district public school. Scholarships are funded by corporations that receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for their contributions.

The majority of the participants in the event, such as individual performers, were Step Up scholars while each group had to have at least one scholar.

“Today we are sharing what we have learned in school and are performing and showcasing our talents as our way of saying thank you,” said student emcee, Rylee Johnson, a junior who attends the Academy of Holy Names in Tampa with help from a Step Up scholarship. Because, what better way to say thank you to someone than to show them that you will succeed? And success – in whatever form it takes – is what this program is all about. By supporting Step Up For Students, you have all recognized that not every student learns the same way. We are all different, and so different schools work best for each of us.”

Johnson then introduced the keynote speaker, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player and Super Bowl XXXVII winner Mike Alstott. He thanked donors and encouraged the students to work hard in school.

“Work hard every single day,” he said. “And when you fall, push yourself up and do it again – just like we do on the field. Practice. Improve upon your God-given talents, and I know you will achieve incredible things.”

After Alstott spoke, nearly 350 students representing 15 schools performed, including Walker Memorial Academy in Avon Park, Hillsborough Baptist School in Seffner, Forest City Adventist School in Altamonte Springs, Harvest Time Christian School in Tampa, Holy Cross Lutheran Christian Academy in Miami, Tampa Adventist Academy, The Genesis School in New Port Richey, Osceola Adventist Christian School in Kissimmee, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Dunedin, American Youth Academy in Tampa, Libertas Academy in Tampa, Academy Prep Center of Tampa, La Progresiva Presbyterian School in Miami, Forest Lake Academy in Apopka, And St. John Paul II Catholic School in Lecanto.

Before taking their seats, donors walked through a gallery exhibit of student work featuring science projects, artwork, a robotics demonstration and other entries from approximately 30 schools, many of whom participate in Step Up For Students Success Partners Program, an initiative designed to strengthen parental involvement and parent-school communication to better serve students. More than 300 of Step Up’s partner schools participate in the free program.

“Our goal for this event is to show the people who make this scholarship opportunity available – the donors and legislators who support the program – exactly why it’s so valuable to our communities and to the future of the children who are using scholarships this year,” said Step Up President Doug Tuthill on Thursday. “Today we are seeing first-hand the power of education, and what students are capable of achieving when their school environment complements the way they learn.”

About Step Up For Students

Step Up For Students is a nonprofit organization responsible for administering the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. The scholarship program is available to students who qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch and students who are in foster care or who are homeless. It provides tuition assistance to the private school of their parents’ choice or transportation help to an out-of-district public school. Scholarships are funded by corporations that receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for their contributions.

Step Up For Students also helps administer state-funded Gardiner Scholarship (PLSA) for Florida students with certain special needs. With the Gardiner Scholarships (PLSA), recipients may use the funds for a variety of services including private tutoring, occupational therapy, instructional materials and other services.

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