JTO funds grow 12%

The Jewish Tuition Organization (JTO) recently announced that its 2015 year-end revenue, exceeded $4 million, up 12% from last year. The largest increase was in corporate support, which grew by 32.5%. Funds raised by the JTO are used for need-based scholarships for children at Desert Jewish Academy, Pardes Jewish Day School, Phoenix Hebrew Academy, Shearim Torah High School for Girls, Torah Day School and Yeshiva High School of Arizona.

The JTO is a student tuition organization that raises funds from both individuals and corporations through the Arizona private school tuition tax credit. The tax credit is an Arizona dollar-for-dollar tax credit. For 2016, the maximum tax credit donation is $1,087 for individuals and $2,173 for couples filing jointly. There is no maximum limit for corporations. The JTO can also accept contributions outside of the tax credits.

“Our goal really is to be able to help every family that wants to send their children to a Jewish day school to be able to do it in an affordable manner,” says Executive Director Linda Zell. “For some it may mean paying $1,000 and for some it may mean paying $10,000, but to be able to make it affordable for everybody and to fill every seat in our classrooms.”

The organization aims to provide 600 scholarships this year, reaching 65-70% of students at the participating schools.

According to Zell, more than 90% of funds raised go to scholarships. “We live on a very frugal budget. The mission is to get kids in school, not hire more staff,” Zell says.

Scholarships provided by the JTO are evaluated for need by a third-party. They are need-based and therefore the JTO does not accept designated support for any specific child or school.

“I think that it’s very obvious how strongly Pardes believes in the value of Jewish day school,” says Patti Evans, CFO of Pardes Jewish Day School in Scottsdale. “While we work very hard to keep the costs as low as we can, we know that day school affordability is a struggle for many families. Without the JTO money they would not be able to access this kind of Jewish education.”

Evans says that 45% of the almost 300 students enrolled at Pardes receive scholarships from the JTO.

The JTO, which was founded in 1999, will host its first special event later this year – an open house on Nov. 13, spotlighting the six participating schools at the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center. It will be open to the community and free of charge. It’s an opportunity for families to find out more about the schools and learn what differentiates each one.

Zell says that the JTO is trying to get in touch with past students who received scholarships, to find out where they are now and what they’re doing with their lives. This includes alumni of the current beneficiary schools, along with the shuttered King David School and Jess Schwartz Academy.

For more information contact the Jewish Tuition Organization at 480-634-4926 or jtophoenix.org.

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