OAKLAND, Calif., Aug 1-With the help of the Independent Scholarship Fund (ISF) more than two hundred low-income students in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties will attend the private or parochial schools of their choice this coming fall.
The program, which has granted over $1,777,500 in student scholarships locally since 1999, is awarding $345,000 to 230 students in grades K-12, for the 2004-2005 school year. Students will use the money to attend 90 different private and parochial schools this fall.
The ISF offers a choice, an alternative, for families in the East Bay who want their children to receive the kind of quality education in a safe environment that has traditionally remained out of reach, says David J. Theroux, founder and president of the Oakland-based Independent Institute, creator of the scholarship program. To fund the scholarships, the Institute relies on generous donations from a wide range of local foundations, and other supporters, dedicated to improving education.
ISF scholarships pay up to 75 percent of the cost of a student's tuition, up to $1500 each school year. Parents are responsible for the remaining portion-a proviso that encourages positive parental involvement in their children's education, says Mr. Theroux.
The Independent Scholarship Fund meets a tremendous need in the East Bay, says Alice Schmidt, Director of the ISF. Parents of all income levels hope to provide the best possible education for their children. Unfortunately, the specialized education offered by private schools is not affordable for low- to moderate-income families. The Independent Scholarship Fund alleviates financial barriers to a private school education, enabling hundreds of students to attend the school of their choice.
National data indicate that dollar-for-dollar private schools are more productive than their public counterparts, Mr. Theroux said. The well-documented benefits of increased competition between public and private schools reinforce our commitment to improving access to high-quality education for young people in the east bay. The ISF demonstrates how people in local communities can assist disadvantaged kids now, without having to wait or depend on politicos in Sacramento or elsewhere. The continued growth of this program will enable more families of modest means to choose the best education for their children.