Step Up For Students Earns Highest Rating from Charity Watchdog for Third Consecutive Year

August 18, 2014 | Tampa, Fla. – For the third consecutive year – and this time with a near perfect overall score of 99.2 – Step Up For Students has earned a four-star rating for sound fiscal management practices and commitment to accountability and transparency from Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest independent charity watchdog.

“We are proud to announce Step Up For Students has earned our third consecutive four-star rating,” Charity Navigator President and CEO Ken Berger wrote in letter to Step Up. “Receiving four out of a possible four stars indicates that your organization adheres to good governance and other best practices that minimize the chance of unethical activities and consistently executes is mission in a fiscally responsible way.”

The superior rating secured the Tampa-based nonprofit, which helps administer the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, the No. 4 spot  nationally on Charity Navigator’s “10 Top-Notch Charities,” up from No. 7 in 2013.

“This is an extraordinary accomplishment for which we should all be very proud, but we’re not satisfied with No. 4,” said Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill. “We will keep pushing for that top spot.”

Step Up has earned the highest possible evaluation from Charity Navigator eight times overall.

Only 12 percent of the charities rated have received the highest four-star evaluation at least three consecutive years in a row from Charity Navigator, indicating that Step Up For Students outperforms most charities in America, Berger said.

“This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Step Up For Students from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust,” Berger said.

“This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Step Up For Students from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.”Ken Berger, Charity Navigator president and CEO

Since 2002, Charity Navigator, also a nonprofit company, has awarded only the most fiscally responsible 501(c)(3) organizations their top ranking using  financial information provided by the organizations’ informational tax returns or IRS Form 990s to determine the rankings. The national company then analyzes a charity’s fiscal performance in seven key areas: program expenses, administrative expenses, fundraising expenses, fundraising efficiency, primary revenue growth, program expenses growth, and working capital ratio.

“Providing families with educational choice is important work that comes with huge responsibilities,” said Tuthill, “including being good stewards of our donors’ money and maintaining the public’s trust.”

For the 2014-15 school year, Step Up For Students expects 68,000 students to attend a private school of their choice using the income-based scholarship worth up to $5,272. Since it began, Step Up For Students has awarded about 399,000 scholarships to low-income children.

About Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator is the largest charity evaluator in United States and its website attracts more visitors than all other charity rating groups combined. The organization helps guide intelligent giving by evaluating the financial health and accountability and transparency of roughly 5,500 mid-to-large sized charities that garner roughly 50 percent of all private contributions made in the United States each year (excluding houses of worship). Charity Navigator accepts no advertising or donations from the organizations it evaluates, ensuring unbiased evaluations. It does not charge the public for its data. As a result, Charity Navigator, a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization, depends on donor support.

For more information, visit the website at

About Step Up For Students

In 2001, the Florida Legislature created the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program as a way to give low-income families a voice in their children’s education. This innovative program gives dollar-for-dollar state tax credits to corporations that redirect a portion of their Florida tax liability to the scholarship program. The scholarship program is available to K-12 students who qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program and provides tuition assistance to the private school of their parents’ choice from about 1,500 participating schools, or $500 toward transportation costs to an out-of-district public school. In 2014, Step Up For Students also began helping administer the new Gardiner Scholarship (PLSA), a program for students with special needs funded by the state.

For more information, or to learn how your corporation can participate in the income-based program, visit

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