How Your Taxes Can Help Low-Income Students

By Stephanie Bolmer

Everybody loves a win-win situation, and that’s just what the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program is. The EITC program provides companies with tax credit for donations to non-profit scholarship organizations. The scholarship funds are distributed to qualified schools enabling lower-income families to afford the best education for their children in pre-kindergarten through high school.

Through the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, which is certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development as an authorized scholarship organization, your business could make a quality education possible for families who otherwise might not be able to afford enrollment for their children. It’s easy, and there are plenty of people available to help walk you through the process of applying.

Since the program started in 2001, the Federation has been able to distribute over $1.8 million in scholarships benefiting low-income families.

“The EITC program can open a world to a student that may not otherwise be available to them,” says Alexa Karakos, early childhood education director at the Jewish Community Center. “These funds make dreams possible for parents who normally wouldn’t even walk through the door of the JCC because they can’t afford it, but who care about the quality of their children’s education so much that they ask for help anyway.”

Amy Golding, interim head of school at the Jewish Day School, says approximately 30 percent of her students benefit from EITC. “Businesses can make these donations at little to no cost; the result is invaluable to the students and their families,” Golding says. “It does wonders for us, but it means the world to the families.”

And the state wants to make it even easier for businesses. Even larger tax credits are available to companies who commit to providing the same amount for two consecutive tax years. One such business is Embassy Bank, where Buddy Lesavoy is on the board of directors and has helped ensure that for over a decade, the bank’s philanthropy is a business-wise decision and one that directly benefits children.

“There are great needs in our community and the EITC program is an enormous help and really doesn’t cost anything to do,” Lesavoy says. “The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley has been a wonderful partner with our bank helping us grow our desire to impact the lives of Lehigh Valley families.”

More information about the program, including the application, can be found here. The deadline for 2016-17 is July 1! Time is of the essence and applications must be entered online on the deadline day or risk losing out on this win-win opportunity.

The Jewish Federation professional staff and volunteers are available to assist with your application process to make certain that the online entry is completed on July 1, 2016. Certain parts of the application can be completed prior to July 1, making the process even easier on July 1. For more information, visit

“This is a tremendous opportunity for tax-paying businesses and partnership partners,” says Michael Miller, CPA and Jewish Federation board member. “You will be helping children from low-income households at practically no cost to you or your business. And we all know that strengthening our community is a wise business decision.”

If you have any questions, contact your tax advisor or the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley at 610-821-5500 or 


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