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September 5, 2002


Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS) begins the 2002-2003 school year with more than one million dollars in awards distributed to families who send their children to the schools of their choosing.

BLOCS is one of 113 scholarship organizations in Pennsylvania participating in the first year of an innovative tax incentive program, the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program (EITC). This state program offers tax credits of up to 90% to businesses that make donations to scholarship organizations such as BLOCS.

Because the EITC attracted increased corporate support for educational initiatives across the state, BLOCS was able to significantly increase the number of children impacted by tuition assistance here in the Philadelphia region. Since 1998, BLOCS has raised a total of $6 million, touching the lives of more than 5,000 students. BLOCS funds are distributed in the form of tuition assistance, grants for technology equipment and special projects. These distributions, in addition to the EITC scholarships that have been given directly to families in need, makes this BLOCS most fortunate year to date.

At a news conference at Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish Elementary School in South Philadelphia, Mr. J. William Mills III, Chair of BLOCS and President, The PNC Financial Services Group, Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey announced that businesses donated 1.2 million dollars to BLOCS during the past year through the EITC. That generosity allowed BLOCS to award approximately 2,000 scholarships to families throughout the five county area of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in July, just in time for the new school year. Scholarship amounts ranged from $250 to $1,000 and were based upon family income. 12,000 families applied for scholarships.
BLOCS awards made up more than 13% of the total statewide.

Mr. Mills said, "The response to this exceptionally beneficial program has been significant and demonstrates that families across Southeastern Pennsylvania are looking for answers to help improve the educational opportunities available to our children. The solution is here and it's called BLOCS and it's made possible in part thanks to the EITC program. PNC has deep Philadelphia roots and a long history of supporting events and organizations that make a difference in our community. Our involvement with BLOCS and the EITC program are just a few examples of how PNC demonstrates our support in a tangible, meaningful way."

The Pennsylvania Legislature passed the Educational Improvement Tax Credit on May 7, 2001. At that time, Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia said, "The real winners of this legislation are, of course, the thousands of children of low and middle income families who might not have access to the schools that best meet their needs. The education tax credit initiative is a tremendous step toward full choice, which would ensure tangible educational options for all of Pennsylvania's children."

Statewide, businesses donated 19.8 million dollars to scholarship organizations and made more than 15,000 awards possible. The program offers businesses a tax credit of 75% of the amount donated to registered scholarship funds. If a business commits to two years of donations, the tax credit grows to 90%.

Businesses that want more information can visit the BLOCS web site at or the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development web site at Donations for the 2003-04 school year are currently being accepted. Applications for families will be available at parishes or schools in January 2003 for the 2003-2004 school year.


Donna Farrell
Broadcast and Media Specialist

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