About Children First Education Fund
Children First Education Fund (CFEF) began in 2020 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit scholarship granting organization (SGO) with the mission to provide school choice for students with disabilities. The organization was founded by Doug Holmes, Jordan Clements, and Kim Coleman, who all have extensive background in education choice and advocacy.
CFEF’s efforts are guided by the Utah Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program, which is defined by Utah Code 53-7-401. With this legislation, Utah joins 21 other states across the country with similar programs offering school choice options for families. CFEF is the first and only state designated SGO in Utah.
Our efforts are focused on three primary areas: Raising funds for scholarships, dispersing scholarships to qualified students with disabilities, and securing partnerships with qualified private schools and homeschools.
Funds donated to CFEF have unique benefits to individuals and businesses that contribute. As defined in the Utah Code, donors that contribute to an SGO can receive a 100% nonrefundable state income tax credit. Utah’s 1-1 tax credit is especially appealing as it does not compete with other charitable giving. Donations may come from individuals or businesses, and there is no limit on the amount of the donations, however, there is a cap of about $6 million in total funds that can be contributed in a given year to the program. Donors will receive a tax credit certificate to validate gift on their Utah State tax return. Tax credits may be taken in the current tax year, applied to the previous tax year, or carried forward for 3 tax years.
We are currently accepting donations for this tax year.
Scholarships are available for children in grades K-12, and may be used for private school tuition, books, supplies, and education related therapies. Homeschool students may also be eligible to receive scholarships. Over 80,000 Utah students are eligible to participate in the program. Siblings of scholarship recipients who attend the same school may also qualify for scholarship funds. As with other education choice programs, tax credit scholarships benefit the regular public education system through savings on public investment, as much as 3 to 1.
This program is an alternative to the Carson-Smith Scholarship (CSS) program, which also provides scholarships to students with disabilities to attend private schools. The key difference between the two programs is that the CSS program is publicly funded through annual legislative appropriations and managed by the State Board of Education. CFEF is privately funded through tax credit donations and managed by a private nonprofit organization. CSS awards scholarships based on levels of need of services, while CFEF awards are based upon family income. Families may be entitled to different amounts under each program, so they are encouraged to review their potential benefits from each. Families may only receive a scholarship from one program. CFEF scholarships amounts vary, and are currently ranging from approximately $6,000 to $10,000 per student annually depending on family income. We are currently seeking applicants for scholarship. Scholarships are generally awarded for a term of three years and may be renewed in 3-year increments, so long as the student continues to demonstrate eligibility.
Our School Partners
CFEF partners with eligible private schools to provide scholarships to their students and to serve as a resource for families seeking school choice. While each private school partner must be approved to participate, CFEF will provide assistance to schools to receive and maintain state approval to participate in the program.
CFEF promotes partner schools by highlighting them on our website and in our marketing materials. CFEF leadership have decades of experience in education administration, choice and innovation, and possess a variety of skills and experience to make the program a success.
CFEF understands the importance of working closely with our partner schools, our families, and our generous donors to achieve our shared mission of providing a quality education choice for students with disabilities. CFEF will support partner schools who receive scholarship funds under the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program.
We are able to take several types of donations including credit card, check and ACH transfer.
Our Board of Directors
Jordan is a partner at Rock Creek Capital, LLC, and director at Clements Midway Partners…
Bill is the CEO of VidAngel Entertainment. His professional career includes…
Elisa is the Chief Operating Officer for the American Federation for Children…
Kim has been a voice for school choice for decades. She served as a member of the Utah House of…
Greg served 16 years in the Utah House of Representatives, the last 4 years his colleagues elected him…
Ronnie brings a vast nonprofit leadership experience to his role as executive director…
Bridget has been with Children First Education Fund since its first year of operation. She enjoys working with…