Archdiocese of Washington Stands in Support of Extending Scholarship Program for Low Income Students in District of Columbia

October 19, 2015

WASHINGTON – The Archdiocese of Washington stands behind H.R. 10, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act of 2015 (SOAR Act). The bill, introduced earlier this month by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) reauthorizes the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program through 2022 and a vote in the House chamber is expected this week. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. Senate (S. 2171) on October 8 and the archdiocese urges swift committee passage a vote in the Senate chamber as well.

The Opportunity Scholarship Program is part of a three-sector program that also includes additional funding for public schools and public charter schools in the District of Columbia. This three-sector program makes $60 million available to be evenly divided among public schools, charter schools and scholarships for low-income families to use at non-public schools. Parents in the nation’s capital would continue to have the option of selecting a school that best fits the educational needs of their children. Since 2004, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program has been a popular and effective program providing a quality private school education to nearly 6,200 very low-income children within the District of Columbia.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington today expressed gratitude to Speaker Boehner for his continued support for the Opportunity Scholarship Program, stating that he has seen first-hand many positive outcomes. “The 664 children now attending our schools through the Opportunity Scholarship Program are thriving not to mention numerous children who participated in the program almost all of whom are now attending college or beginning their professional careers. Our experience and studies show parents are not only engaged in their children’s education, but are very satisfied.” Calling the program “a leap forward for all children of the District of Columbia,” the cardinal pointed out that the average income for a scholarship family is about $22,000, serving the poorest of the poor. “Indeed, it is by working together that we are able to give children a path out of poverty through educational equality. This is a matter of fairness and justice,” he said.

The archdiocese stands in full support of the Opportunity Scholarship Program and is hopeful for passage of the SOAR Act in both the House and Senate.

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The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

CONTACT:
Chieko Noguchi or Lindsey Frechou
301-853-4516
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