Trump Administration Announces $85 Million to Support Disadvantaged Students in Nation’s Capital Attending K-12 Private Schools of Their Choice

Trump Administration Announces $85 Million to Support Disadvantaged Students in Nation’s Capital Attending K-12 Private Schools of Their Choice

Highly popular program primarily serves lower income and minority students
July 22, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today that the Department of Education will award at least $85 million over the next five years for disadvantaged students from families with lower incomes in Washington, D.C., to attend private schools of their choice, as part of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP) is the only federally-funded school choice program in the nation. The program was restored by President Donald J. Trump in May 2017 following a cruel decision by the Obama Administration to cut its funding.

“Students and parents love the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program because it gives them the freedom to choose the right education fit for them,” said Secretary DeVos. “When students find their right fit, we know they’re more likely to succeed. While too many Democrats in Congress continue to do the bidding of union bosses who want nothing more than to defund this successful program, this administration will continue to be on the side of students and parents. This program should not be subject to political whims. It was established because the students and parents of D.C., led by my dear friend Virginia Walden Ford, demanded it, and bipartisan leaders in Congress came together to do what was right. President Trump and I will continue to fight to grow DCOSP and we won't rest until every student in America has access to an education that best matches their learning needs and prepares them for future success.”

Annually, DCOSP awards scholarships to more than 1,500 students living in Washington, D.C., enabling them to attend private schools of their choice. The average income of participating families is less than $27,000 per year, and more than 90% of participating students identify as Black or Hispanic/Latino.

The Trump Administration is also working to expand DCOSP, so that more students can take advantage of the life-changing power of education freedom. In the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Request, the President asked Congress to nearly double funding for the program from $17.5 million in FY 2020 to $30 million.

Today’s news follows an announcement by the U.S. Department of Education in February 2020 that it would hold a competition to identify a nonprofit organization to administer the program for the next five years. A panel of independent peer reviewers evaluated the applications. The winner was the incumbent program administrator, Serving Our Children, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., that will administer the scholarships and provide support services to recipients and their families.

BACKGROUND

  • The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was authorized by Congress in 2003 with bipartisan support. The Obama Administration repeatedly tried to end the program by cutting its funding. The action was called “hypocritical and wrong” by leading Black and Hispanic education advocacy groups.
  • The average income of participating families is less than $27,000 per year.
  • Nearly 10,000 scholarships for low-income students have been awarded over the lifetime of the program.
  • Over 75% of scholarship students reside in Wards 4, 7 and 8 of Washington, D.C., and would otherwise be assigned to failing traditional public schools.
  • Whereas only 69% of D.C. public school students graduated from high school in recent years, nearly 98% of scholarship recipients graduate, with 86% of those graduates going on to attend a college of their choice.
  • Nearly 40,000 students have applied for a scholarship over the lifetime of the program, indicating both the demand and the need for more choice options.
  • Serving Our Children is the incumbent program administrator and will now continue to operate the program for the next five years. Today’s action will result in the immediate award of $17 million for Fiscal Year 2020, and an estimated $85 million over the next five years.