Step Up For Students

stepStep Up For Students provides scholarships for Florida children! Many of the families who come to Brainchild Institute have qualified for the Gardiner Unique Abilities Scholarship. The Gardiner Scholarship is different than other state scholarships in that it allows parents to personalize the education of their children with unique abilities by directing money toward a combination of programs and approved providers. These include schools, therapists, specialists, curriculum, technology – even a college savings account.

The Gardiner Scholarship amount varies according to grade and county of residence. The average amount for most students in the 2018-19 school year is $10,000.

This scholarship is for Florida students 3 years old through 12th grade or age 22, whichever comes first, with one of the following disabilities: Autism spectrum disorder, Muscular dystrophy, Cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Phelan McDermid syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Spina bifida, Williams syndrome, Intellectual disability (severe cognitive impairment), rare diseases as defined by the National Organization for Rare Disorders, anaphylaxis, deaf, visually impaired, dual sensory impaired, traumatic brain injured, hospital or homebound as defined by the rules of the State Board of Education and evidenced by reports from local school districts, or three, four or five year-olds who are deemed high-risk due to developmental delays.

  • Students need an IEP written in accordance with the rules of the State Board of Education or with the rules of another state OR the diagnosis of a Florida physician or psychologist or a physician who holds an active license issued by another state or territory of the United States, the District of Columbia or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
  • Students must be at least 3 or 4 on or before Sept 1. Students entering kindergarten must be 5 on or before Sept 1. Students entering first grade must be 6 on or before Sept 1.
  • Students can participate in the Gardiner Scholarship program as part of home education. However, they cannot be enrolled in a public school or receive any other state-sponsored scholarship (McKay Scholarship or the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship).

For more information you can call 1-877-735-7837 or email info@stepupforstudents.org

Step Up For Students empowers parents to pursue and engage in the most appropriate learning options for their children, with an emphasis on families who lack the financial resources to access these options. By pursuing this mission, we help public education fulfill the promise of equal opportunity.

Step Up For Students is a state-approved nonprofit scholarship funding organization that helps administer two scholarships for Florida schoolchildren: the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC) for lower-income families and the Gardiner Scholarship for children with certain special needs.

Public education is rooted in the promise of equal educational opportunity, and nowhere is that covenant more relevant than in the lives of children who live near poverty or for students with certain special needs. A quality education should not be determined by financial means nor disability. Through the scholarships, we empower parents to give their children a chance at a brighter future.

The FTC scholarship program was created to benefit children whose educational options are limited by household income. The scholarships are not tied to the performance of public schools nor the students who receive them. The program is different primarily because it directly targets students with the fewest options available. The latest state-commissioned research determined that students who receive the FTC scholarship are among the lowest-performing in the public schools they leave behind. This means the FTC scholarship is serving the most disadvantaged children in Florida. Our scholarships provide parents a way to help their children find success.

These scholarships are offered as options in the same way that public education is offering an expanding array
of choices. One common mistake people make about these scholarships is to view them as an indictment of public schools. However, they are intended to strengthen public education by offering options to struggling schoolchildren. We consider ourselves to be partners with public schools, and often use the tagline – “helping public education fulfill the promise of equal opportunity” – that represents a genuine expression of how we view our role in the larger education system.

For more information you can call 1-877-735-7837 or email gardiner@stepupforstudents.org