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Norwin foundation pushes tax credit program

| Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Norwin School District Community Foundation, a nonprofit associated with the district, will encourage local businesses to participate in a state tax credit program that would benefit Norwin students.

“(The Educational Improvement Tax Credit) allows businesses to receive tax credits for making contributions to educational improvement organizations,” said Jon Szish, executive director of the foundation and district spokesman.

The foundation is considered an educational improvement organization, per state designation.

Several programs proposed at Norwin fall under the state's “innovative educational programs” designation, also a part of the tax credit program. Among those are: growth of the elementary robotics program, expansion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) camps, and possible creation of a “Norwin App Laboratory,” Szish said.

The tax credit program authorizes tax credits — not deductions — for businesses that contribute to approved organizations.

A business can receive a tax credit equal to 75 percent of its contribution, up to a maximum of $750,000 yearly, Szish said. That credit can be increased to 90 percent of the contribution made up to $750,000 annually if the business agrees to provide the same contribution for two consecutive years.

“(The) newest thing we're going to be getting into is the Educational Improvement Tax Credit, which will allow businesses to divert some of their tax obligation to us,” foundation President John Boylan said.

The foundation works to support educational programs with funding, Boylan said. Its income comes from donations, including a mini-golf outing and a countywide Day of Giving.

“Our purpose is to develop and increase community philanthropy, to administer scholarships for students,” he said. “We work in essence for the district to serve the district.”

This school year, the amount of scholarships given by the foundation since 2007 will top $100,000, Boylan said. The foundation provides mini-grants to teachers, essentially seed money to spur classroom projects.

“We're in the scholarship business at the moment. But we created the foundation to do much more,” Boylan said, mentioning an alumni group and the district's STEM initiatives.

To notify business leaders about the tax credit program, Szish plans to mail letters to 100 businesses in the Norwin district. The state's cap for the tax credit fund this year is $30 million.

“There's a bit of competition,” Szish said. “And July 1 is the deadline we'll be working toward. We're aggressively promoting it.”

District Superintendent William Kerr called the foundation “an integral part of our future.”

“We certainly can't do it alone as a school district anymore,” Kerr said. “I think it's pretty evident that school districts need to reach out to nonprofit organizations … to move districts forward.”

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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