Archdiocese of Washington Welcomes Introduction of Bill to Extend Scholarship Program for Low Income Students in District of Columbia

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

WASHINGTON – House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) introduced yesterday, HR 10, legislation to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program through 2022. The Archdiocese of Washington welcomes the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act of 2015 (SOAR Act) and is hopeful for its swift passage.

The 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 would make $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 once again 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.

The majority of Opportunity Scholarship students come from single parent families and the average household income is approximately $22,000 per year.  Nearly half of the students enrolled in the program this year live in Wards 7 and 8 of the District, the most economically challenged areas, and almost all of them, 99.7 percent, would otherwise be zoned for what has been classified as a “School in Need of Improvement.”

“Opportunity Scholarships give children in the nation’s capital hope and an opportunity for a brighter future,” said Thomas Burnford, secretary for Catholic education for the Archdiocese of Washington. “Since its inception in 2004, the scholarship program has given families the choice to send their children to a school that is the best fit for their needs. The archdiocese is in full support of the reauthorization of this highly successful and popular program for District families.”


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.

Chieko Noguchi or Lindsey Frechou
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