Breakthru Beverage Florida donates $45 million to Step Up For Students for scholarships serving lower-income Florida families


Breakthru Beverage Florida, one of the largest distributors of wines, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages in the state, announced today it is donating $45 million to the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program.

Breakthru’s donation will fund more than 6,880 K-12 scholarships for lower-income Florida schoolchildren for the 2017-18 school year.

Since 2011, Breakthru Beverage has contributed more than $254 million, providing more than 45,600 scholarships.

“Communities thrive when we all do our part and work together. Breakthru Beverage is proud to support Step Up For Students and give Florida students an opportunity to reach their highest potential,” said Eric Pfeil, executive vice president of Breakthru Beverage Florida. “We’re confident these students will aim high and will be future leaders in our community. We look forward to a long relationship with Step Up For Students.”

Step Up For Students and Breakthru Beverage Florida celebrated Breakthru’s seven-year support of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program at Pentab Academy on Friday (Jan. 19) morning. Breakthru Beverage Florida’s contributions since 2011 has topped $254 million contribution, including this year’s $45 million donation supporting more than 6,880. Picture from left to right, Pentecostal Tabernacle Pastor S. Robert Stewart, Step Up Board member Paul Sherman, Step Up Chairman and Founder John Kirtley, Pentab Academy Principal Barbara Sharpe, Breakthru Distribution Manager Rick Thoni, Breakthru Executive Vice President Eric Pfeil, Breakthru Director of Event Management Katie Leibick, Breakthru CFO Eric Roth, Step Up President Doug Tuthill and Breakthru Vice President of Business Development Lou Muzi.

This is the seventh consecutive year Breakthru Beverage Florida has contributed to the nonprofit organization that administers the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program for financially disadvantaged schoolchildren. The program is funded with tax-credited donations and allows parents and schoolchildren to choose between a K-12 scholarship that helps with private school tuition and fees, or one that assists with transportation costs to out-of-county public schools.

“Thanks to the support and generosity of our donors, Step Up For Students is helping parents find the best learning environment for their children that they otherwise couldn’t afford,” said Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up For Students. “On behalf of our Step Up families, we thank Breakthru Beverage for its continued commitment and generosity.”

The announcement was made at Pentab Academy in Miami, which serves prekindergarten through eighth grade students. More than half of its 260 students use Step Up For Students scholarships.

Eric Pfeil, executive vice president of Breakthru Beverage Florida, left shakes the hand of Pentab Academy fourth-grader Taneisha Micelus, while Principal Barbara Sharpe looks on Friday morning at the school in Miami. Teneisha was presenting Pfeil with thank-you notes from Step Up For Students scholars during an event celebrating Breakthru’s $45 million donation for 2017-18 and more than $254 million in contributions since 2011. This year’s donation alone is supporting more than 6,800 Florida Tax Credit scholarships for lower-income Florida children throughout Florida. This year, Step Up for Students is serving more than 103,000 lower-income students with the tax credit scholarship.

“At Pentab Academy, our goal is to educate the whole child – academically, emotionally and spiritually. Many of our families could not afford a private school education for their children without the help of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and Step Up For Students,” said Barbara Sharpe, Pentab Academy principal. “We are grateful to Breakthru Beverage Florida for being a leader and giving back to our community.”

For the 2017-18 school year, Step Up For Students is serving more than 100,000 students throughout Florida with tuition scholarships valued at up to $6,343 per student for kindergarten through fifth grade, $6,631 for sixth through eighth grade, and $6,920 for ninth through 12th grade. More than 1,700 private schools participate in the scholarship program statewide.

About Step Up For Students
Step Up For Students is a nonprofit organization that helps manage the income-based Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Students who qualify for the national free or reduced-price lunch, or those who are homeless or in foster or out-of-home care, may qualify. The scholarship provides tuition assistance to the private school of their parents’ choice or financial assistance to offset the transportation cost to an out-of-district public school. Since 2001, Step Up has awarded more than 680,000 scholarships.

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

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About Breakthru Beverage Florida
Breakthru Beverage Florida is one of the largest distributors of wines, spirits and other beverages in Florida. A member of the Breakthru Beverage Group, Breakthru Florida services a variety of accounts including hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, grocery and retail stores from offices and distribution facilities throughout the state.  Breakthru Beverage Group was formed by joining substantial holdings of The Charmer Sunbelt Group and Wirtz Beverage Group.  The company employs more than 7,000 associates and with its affiliates have operations in 19 markets across the country and Canada.  For more information, visit

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