IL State Tax Credits / Empower Illinois

Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Opportunities – what are they?

Here’s a recap video slideshow of our first trimester for this unusual year, 2020-2021. 

There is an amazing opportunity for you to support Catholic education right here at OLW and significantly reduce, or eliminate, your state tax bill at the same time. It is the Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program, “Invest in Kids” and it provides a 75% Illinois state income tax credit – not just a deduction – to individuals who contribute money to a non-profit Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO). This means that a $5,000 donation to an SGO is a net cost of only $1,250 to the donor. Earmark your donation for Our Lady of the Wayside School and it will be used for students that want to attend our school but need financial assistance.

There are a few steps to the process (see below), but the benefit is truly worth the effort. For this academic year of 2020-21, OLW gave scholarships to 19 through Tax Credit Scholarships. There are still students that want to attend OLW but need financial assistance.

Currently, there is a matching gift program available to help donations make an even greater impact. This program offers a 2-for-1 matching gift to the more than 160 schools run by the Archdiocese of Chicago. There is a cap of $50,000 per school. The program is available until February 28, 2021 or until the matching funds are exhausted. It is expected that matching funds will be used up by the end of January 2021.

For every $1 designated to OLW through the Invest in Kids program, we will receive $2 in matching funds. The donations are capped at $50,000 per school.
The program ends on February 28, 2021 or when all matching funds have been depleted, whichever comes first. (Funds are expected to be depleted by end of January.)
A donation of $5,000, in cash or stock, becomes $15,000 for scholarships. After the tax credit of $3750, the actual net donation from the donor is $1250.
$1000 becomes $3000 and after the tax credit of $750, the net donation is $250.
$500 becomes $1500 and after the tax credit of $375, the net donation is $125.
$250 becomes $750 and after the tax credit of $187.50, the net donation is $62.50.
$10,000 becomes $30,000 and after the tax credit of $7500, the net donation is $2500.
And so on. Every gift will help!

First, you need to request a Letter ID from  You will need your Social Security and Driver’s License numbers. Click on Individuals; under Miscellaneous, click on Request a Letter ID. It takes about 7-10 business days to receive the Letter ID in the mail.
Step by step instructions to request a Letter ID 

Second: Once you receive the Letter ID, return to and click Sign Up Now to create an account. Then log-in to your newly created account to apply for your tax credit.
Step by step instructions to create and activate your account
Step by step instructions to apply for your tax credit
When applying for the tax credit, please have this information handy:
– Region 1/Cook County for OLW
– Scholarship Granting Organization: Empower Illinois
– how much you plan to donate (you must mail a check, no credit card donations are allowed)
You will receive an email with your Contribution Authorization Certificate. Download it and then you can make your donation. 
Step by step instructions to download Contribution Authorization Certificate

Third: Visit to make your donation to OLW through the Tax Credit Scholarship Program. You must use the SGO Empower Illinois and designate Our Lady of the Wayside School.
Download the mail-in payment donation form and send with your donation check to Empower Illinois. This must be done within 60 days of receiving the Contribution Authorization Certificate from

Please contact any of the following people for help. The extra effort benefits families who would like to choose OLW as the place to give their children a Catholic education, but they need financial assistance. The donor receives a benefit in an actual reduction of tax liability when they file their IL state taxes. A Win/Win!
David Wood, OLW Principal, 847-255-0050, ext 244, or
Danielle Kenney, Marketing and Development Manager, 847-255-0050, or