-The Bridge Educational Foundation and Associated Whoesalers, Inc. (AWI) gave $12,375 in scholarships on Friday for Wayne and Pike county families through Pennsylvania's Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program.
The presentation was done at Canaan Christian School, where school officials and family members, as well as State Senator Lisa Baker and State Representative Frank Farina, attended. Students attending Canaan Christian, Damascus Christian and New Life Christian are recipients of the scholarship money.
The scholarship donation announced at Canaan Christian are part of the K-12 EITC Programs. That program provides companies with a "75 percent tax credit-90 percent for a two year commitment," for funds donated to approved, nonprofit scholarship or educational improvement organizations. Businesses can donate "up to $400,000 per year."
"The money is given out as scholarships to help whoever is making the sacrifice for you to go to this school," Joe Gerdes, founder of the Bridge Educational Foundation, told students. "We couldn't do it without the lenders and support from representatives."
He said that the state sets money aside specifically for this program and that it's "one of the largest."
"It's important to do an event like this to say thanks," Gerdes said. "We want to continue this program and help families. This has helped 10,000 Pennsylvania families and hundreds of schools. It gives parents the opportunity to send their children to the schools that best fit their needs. Thanks to the donors and to the representatives for their support."
"We're proud to be here," said Duane Nizinski of AWI. "We're a family owned business and a cooperation owned by our member retail stores."
He said that joined together, these retail stores compete with larger chain stores like Walmart.
Area businesses who are partners in the program include Dutch's Market, John's General Store, Pickerel Inn, Arnold's Country Mini Market, Ray's Shursave, Sunrise Market, McCaffery's Market, Country Trails General Store, John's General Store, Preston Country Market and Qwik Mart.
"Our donors participate in the EITC Program because it allows their companies to give back to the communities where they work and live and simultaneously help to provide educational opportunities to their future workforce," said Gerdes. "The EITC is providing families in Pike and Wayne counties and throughout Pennsylvania with a choice. The program has paired community-minded businesses with families for more than a decade. We hope that the EITC will continue to grow and help additional families in the next decade."
"It's because of the advocacy of everyone involved that this program grows," said Baker. "It started at one million and now it's up to 100 million. Thank you for all of the support. Without you this would not happen. Thank you parents for the role they play in you having this education. For 12 years the EITC scholarships has made a difference in peoples' lives."
Page 2 of 2 - "It's a pleasure to be here to celebrate with you," said Farina. "This is an investment for the future. If the world saw through children's eyes it would be a much better place. We must be the guidance for children. With all involved we take a step forward."
Farina also provided the students with some advice.
"If you want to build an ark don't let anyone tell you different," he said. "If you want to you'll build an ark. The world is yours. Go out and get it. Be what you want to be and don't let anyone tell you differently."