Jason Tejada grew up in the Bronx and attended a school that struggled with frequent drug busts and violence. His mother, Luz, knew she wanted more for her son.
Jason’s family was awarded a Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF) scholarship, which enabled Jason to transfer to Incarnation School in upper Manhattan. To Jason, Incarnation felt “more like family.” He was accepted into Columbia University and even had the opportunity to intern with JPMorgan, Bloomberg, and Goldman Sachs. After graduating, Jason was offered a job with JPMorgan Chase, where he currently works as an analyst for the Chief Investment Office.
Inspirational stories like Jason’s are found in a new book by Naomi Schaefer Riley, Opportunity and Hope: Transforming Children’s Lives through Scholarships. Riley details 10 stories that illustrate exactly how school choice fosters educational opportunity and opens the doors to the American dream.
Founded in 1998 by Ted Forstmann and John Walton, CSF scholarships eliminated geographic constraints to accessing quality education options by enabling recipients to attend private schools of choice selected by their parents.
CSF’s early roots grew from the 1998 Washington Scholarship Fund (WSF), which provided private funding for school scholarships in the nation’s capital. It was when the scholarship program received more than 8,000 applications in its first year that Forstmann and Walton realized there was a high demand for school choice—not only in D.C. but nationally.
Now, more than 139,000 children across the country have benefitted from CSF scholarships.
Anthony Samuels’s former school also struggled with delinquency. But school choice enabled Anthony to transfer to Abington Friends School in Philadelphia. He is currently pursuing an accounting degree at Temple University. Anthony hopes to help other students the way CSF helped him.
“That’s my goal, to be extremely successful and just help people who came from the same situation as me,” said Anthony. “I would get a kid from public school and invest in his education.… If more people would get the opportunity I was given, the world would be a better place.”
Success stories such as Jason’s and Anthony’s are a testament to the power educational opportunity through school choice. As Riley writes:
When they reach a critical mass, these success stories hold the keys to raising up a whole community, to breaking the cycle of poverty to increasing social mobility. If we can affect the life of one child, we can affect whole families and whole neighborhoods.