“A decade!” said Praveen Gollapudi, with wonder.
Praveen and his wife, Rinu Jacob, are parents of sixth grader Nyah and ninth grader Jaydon. Both children started in pre-K, making this new school year the Gollapudis’ 11th year as PC parents.
Donors to Penn Charter for equally as long, they are inspired to give because they are invested in the school. “My children go here. We want the school to be successful,” Praveen said. “We support causes that are really worthwhile to us, and this is one of them.”
Last year, Praveen and Rinu explored the possibility of giving to the school by redirecting their tax dollars to PC through Pennsylvania tax-credit programs: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. The pair attended a virtual workshop run by Senior Development Officer Chris Rahill OPC ’99 to learn about the tax-credit programs that support financial aid for qualified students at PC. “The tax-credit programs are an essential component of our yearly financial aid budget, and combined with our endowed scholarship funds they allow Penn Charter to attract the best students, regardless of financial need,” he said.
PC parent Jeff Markovitz presented virtually, detailing how the two programs benefit the school and the individual donor, and he explained Special Purpose Entities (SPEs), the newest development in the distribution of the tax-credit funds to schools.
The online session about tax-credit giving via SPEs was the first of its kind at Penn Charter and is something Rahill intends to continue as a way to help spread the word.
“The tax-credit virtual presentations are a great way to learn about EITC and OSTC and just how easy it is to qualify and make an immediate impact on the Penn Charter financial aid program,” Rahill said.
Praveen found the process straightforward and went about it himself, though other donors may prefer to consult their financial advisor.
An Accessible Option
Individuals who wish to give can select from several options, each designed to support schools in underperforming districts. Rinu and Praveen chose to give through the EITC program and, specifically, the Friends Collaborative, a special-purpose entity SPE.
Friends Collaborative is comprised of Quaker schools in the area that have joined together to expand financial aid at each school in this way, by attracting the deferred tax dollars of parents, graduates and supporters.
“I wish I had known about this earlier,” Praveen said. “For families who can manage to do it, you’re either giving money to the state or to Penn Charter. Giving this way is great for people who want to see their tax dollars at work in front of them. You can see it right at the school.”
Andrew Kramer OPC ’81, P ’14, ’16 agrees.
“To me it’s just a no-brainer. It makes perfect sense,” Kramer said. “Hopefully, you’re giving a gift anyway, and quite frankly it helps that you’re paying state taxes and you’re supporting a place you really believe in.”
Recalling his experience as a student and as a PC parent, Kramer recognizes the importance of supporting financial aid, which these tax-credit giving opportunities do.
“I know from my own experience that a lot of boys and girls who went to Penn Charter were on scholarship and were only able to go because of the support of alumni and parents. And I wanted to continue that tradition — to make the school available to kids who cannot afford it. This giving allows that.”
Kramer has supported the Annual Fund for 35 straight years and gave via one of Penn Charter’s SPEs for the first time in 2020.
“It’s a great benefit to the school, and quite honestly it benefits the individual donor,” he said. He plans to do it again.
A Community of Families
Penn Charter works hard to build community in the school, and Roger and Dana Band P ’29, ’30 have noticed.
“What inspired us to give is the experience our children have had,” Dana said. “The folks who work at PC are so dedicated to what they do, not just for the kids but for the community. We feel a strong sense of community at Penn Charter and it is our responsibility to make it a stronger place.”
Based on that sense of responsibility and gratitude, the Bands made a gift through the Central Pennsylvania Scholarship Fund (CPSF), an SPE similar to the Friends Collaborative and one of many from which to choose.
Roger said what inspires them to support the school is “seeing the deeply personal investment that so many have made literally every single year in the emotional and intellectual growth of our children. Giving enables the opportunity for other children to be able to experience the same things. And I think that is good for everybody.”
Like Rinu Jacob and Praveen Gollapudi, Roger and Dana Band joined PC when their eldest entered pre-K. Over the years, they have formed relationships with teachers that extend beyond the year their son is in a particular grade, and they’ve built new friendships with other parents. Roger said their experience as parents “has broadened our circles of adult friendships in a way that I hadn’t expected.”
Supporting financial aid via tax-credit giving, Dana Band said, “just helps us be able to give more.”
Rahill is grateful to those who do.
“The donor impact of this program is immense,” Rahill said. “When redirecting tax dollars, it only costs a dime to give a dollar, and as more people learn about this program there is no telling how many opportunities we can create for our students.”
PC is more than a school for its students—it is a community of families. And, as Andy Kramer understands, it’s a community of families that take care of each other. Together, Penn Charter families positively impact each others’ lives, leaving ripple effects for years to come.