Reimagining Education

St. Louis School Closing Shines Light on Changing Education Landscape

Post-PandemicMOScholars Program offers hope to students fighting pandemic learning loss, school closures

The news last week that the Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls charter school is closing means St. Louis City students now have one less choice when looking for educational options. At the same time, students in St. Louis City are facing some of the largest pandemic-related learning losses in the country, according to a recent study released by Stanford University. Overcoming the staggering learning losses is requiring innovation and access to a wide variety of learning environments that meet individual students’ specific needs.

The good news is that there is already a program in place that can help some of St. Louis’s most disadvantaged students access some of the best schools in the region, regardless of where they live or how low their household income is.

In its inaugural year, MOScholars, a groundbreaking state program, has provided families with access to educational services, such as virtual classes and tutoring, and private school tuition scholarships worth $6,375 each per student annually. More than 1,300 low-income students and students with special learning needs throughout Missouri have already taken advantage of the scholarships. 

MOScholars opens doors to a multitude of educational options, including religious and secular private schools, traditional public schools, charter schools, and accredited home schools. Eligibility prioritizes students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and those from low-income households. The scholarships are renewable annually, ensuring long-term support for students’ educational aspirations.

The program has proven to be very popular with families. So much so, there is now a waiting list of students who qualify for the program. MOScholars scholarships are funded by private donations through Missouri’s only 100% tax-credit program. Last year, in the program’s first months after going into effect, MOScholars scholarships were provided to 1,300 students. The goals this school year and for the next few years will be to raise awareness of the tax credits and to fully fund 4,000 scholarships the program could offer each school year.

The Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM) is the state organization that has taken the lead in building awareness among qualified families of MOScholars and also with taxpayers who can use the tax credits to directly fund the program.

“Quality education options should not be a privilege reserved for a few,” said CEAM Executive Director Laura Slay. “The MOScholars scholarship program was created for Missouri’s most disadvantaged students. MOScholars is not just about helping students; it’s an opportunity for every Missouri taxpayer to create life-changing K-12 scholarships. It gives state taxpayers the ability to improve education statewide without spending a dime. They can now direct a significant portion of the taxes they owe to the state to fund the MOScholars program directly.”

CEAM is hosting a series of monthly #TaxCreditTuesdays Zoom webinars that will give individuals and businesses a chance to learn how they can transform their state taxes into K-12 scholarships on the third Tuesday of each month, through December. 

Each webinar will start with a brief overview of the program, provide instructions on how to reserve the tax credits, and give participants time to ask questions.

“The MOScholars program is not only a beacon of hope for Missouri’s disadvantaged students, but also an opportunity for every person or business paying state taxes to be an agent of change,” said Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri Associate Executive Director Peter Franzen. “By utilizing the MOScholars tax credit, taxpayers can ensure their taxes are being utilized to support education and improve the lives of children in our state. We all have to pay those taxes. With MOScholars, we can direct our taxes to help change lives.”

For more information about the program and how to make a lasting impact on the lives of Missouri’s students, please visit showmeschooloptions.org/donors.

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