by Ken Gorrell,
Weirs Times Contributing Writer
Bob Dorough died last week, but his music lives on. It lives on not just in his jazz recordings, but also in the minds of millions of kids who grew up watching “Schoolhouse Rock,” the animated series of educational cartoon shorts that first hit the air on Saturday mornings back in ’73.
Dorough’s ditties engaged kids with lessons in language (“Conjunction Junction”), math (“Three is a Magic Number”), and civics (“I’m Just a Bill”). They were clever, educational, and memorable. It’s been more than 40 years, but just writing those titles put the tunes in my head and a smile on my face.
Few of us have his jazz chops (Dorough co-wrote “Comin’ Home Baby”, a Top 40 hit for Mel Tormé), but many of us can put smiles on the faces of students across the Granite State. Instead of penning catchy songs, we can pen contributions to a scholarship organization that empowers lower-income New Hampshire families to choose the right educational path for their children.
For New Hampshire businesses, funding scholarships through the state’s Education Tax Credit (ETC) program spreads smiles all around. Their donations provide low- and middle-income children the education opportunities wealthier families take for granted, and businesses receive an 85% tax credit from the state against business profits tax (BPT) and/or business enterprise tax (BET). Companies can, of course, also take the federal tax deduction for their entire charitable contribution. Imagine writing a check that goes to a student instead of the state.
Who are the current recipients helped by generous business donors? They are families who could not otherwise afford educational alternatives but knew the right alternative existed. They are kids who didn’t fit the mold, and whose frustrations interfered with their learning. Of the students awarded scholarships this school year, 77% are eligible for free and reduced lunch and 11% have special needs. All have parents who made the necessary sacrifices to contribute at least 25% towards their tuition.
What do these scholarships mean for local kids? Children’s Scholarship Fund New Hampshire (CSF-NH), the largest scholarship program in the state, works with thousands of parents searching for education options. They see their children struggling in their assigned public schools and want to provide them with a different educational environment. Whether the challenge is academic, social, or behavioral, these parents are striving to help their children reach their full potential but lack the financial resources to do it alone. These scholarships make the difference.
Since I can’t put it to music, I’ll let parents tell their stories:
“Changing schools has been a lifesaver for my child. She is noticeably different and has improved both socially and academically. This school has been a miracle for our family.”
“It broke my heart when my wonderful, smart daughter started dreading school in only the fourth grade because she was being bullied. By sixth grade, I knew I had to do something…As a low-income family, our choices are limited. CSF’s scholarships are so important! They allow families like mine the freedom to help their children excel in safe and nurturing environments.”
“This program has been a miracle for us.”
As a member of the CSF-NH Advisory Board, I’ve attended donor-parent events and heard directly from parents, students, and business leaders. Some of the family stories are heartbreaking, but all are life-affirming. In a world with too much unwelcome news, these parents and students have refreshing news to tell. What had seemed like a dead-end to them became a door opening to a world of possibilities.
“Making a difference” is an overworked phrase, but it accurately describes what businesses across the state are doing right now for NH families. This school year, CSF-NH has awarded more than half-a-million dollars in tuition scholarships to help 260 New Hampshire families provide their kids with the educational option that fits each one – whether that’s public, private, virtual, homeschool, or blended learning. While doing that, businesses also gain a measure of control over their tax liability. The ETC turns that liability into the ability to change how a child sees the future.
But the race is on. There are more applications each year as the program gains popularity through word-of-mouth and the accomplishments of the children awarded these scholarships. Businesses have until June to apply for the tax credit that changes lives. Please consider assisting underprivileged children for the 2018-2019 school year with your 2018 NH Education Tax Credit contribution.. NH Education Tax Credit Applications are submitted to the NH Department of Revenue. The process is surprisingly easy and described step-by-step at www.csfnewhampshire.org. It’s not too late to help more New Hampshire children succeed!