Donations to SFA go far

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Donations to SFA go far
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To the editor: 

If you could pay part of your annual tax bill in the form of a donation to a very worthwhile local charitable organization – instead of through a check to the government – would you? 

Believe it or not, a little-known Virginia program called The Neighborhood Assistance Act Tax Credit Program for Education allows you to do just that. The program, offered through the Virginia Department of Education, offers tax credits of up to 65% for donations to just over 80 approved neighborhood organizations, including the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria. 

These tax credits are a powerful tool for Virginia taxpayers – both individuals and companies – interested in supporting education at the local level. Approved organizations like the SFA can offer you a 65% tax credit to be applied to your Virginia state income taxes. If you were to give $1,000 to the Fund, you would receive a $650 tax credit to pay your Virginia state tax bill. This is a tax credit, not a tax deduction – directly reducing your total tax bill. 

There are also ways in which this tool can be even more powerful. When you pay your tax bill, you must pay it in cash. But your donation to an approved neighborhood organization like the SFA can be made with appreciated securities, enabling you to avoid a potentially substantial capital gain on the eventual sale of the securities. Or it can be made as part of your required minimum distribution from your Individual retirement account. 

Your donations to the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria are also an amazingly powerful tool. As an SFA donor and volunteer, I’m overwhelmed each year by the impact I see our supporters have made in the lives of Alexandria City High School students and their families. Beyond the scholarships, many students would never make it through the complicated college application process or know how to apply to career and technical programs without the substantial advisory help provided by our SFA staff, housed right in the ACHS building. 

Our dedicated staff helps students find their way to the right program and decipher the financial aid package to make sure it works for their family. Often, they’d still have a tuition gap to close, which is where an SFA scholarship often makes the difference in making those college dreams possible. 

Some compelling numbers that help illustrate the need, the effort and the support provided by SFA: More than 60% of ACHS students are living at or below the federal poverty level. More than 60% of SFA scholarship recipients are the first in their family to apply to college. And $1.4 million in scholarship funds were provided through SFA in 2023 alone. During the past 37 years, SFA has granted nearly $18 million in scholarships to Alexandria students. 

Since its inception, SFA has been a great example of broad community support at work. The vast majority of SFA funding comes via relatively modest donations. While the amount of each donation certainly matters, the sheer number of supporters is what has made the difference to so many students over time. 

I hope you’ll consider joining me and so many Alexandria community members in supporting the SFA and taking advantage of the Neighborhood Assistance Act Tax Credit Program. For information, contact the Scholarship Fund today at scholarshipfund@acps.k12.va.us or 703- 824-6730 and our staff will be happy to provide you with the necessary information to make the tax credit process quick and easy. 

-Kevin W. Jahns, Scholarship Fund of Alexandria Board of Trustees 

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