Children First Offers Stories of Changed Lives

Published September 1, 1998

CEO America has launched Children First, a magazine that puts the spotlight on children whose lives have been transformed by scholarships awarded through private voucher programs. Each issue will offer real-life stories of how freedom of choice in education has affected the lives of children and their parents.

“We had heard the stories of changed lives time and time again from the founders of these programs and the administrators,” said CEO America president Fritz Steiger. “It became apparent to us that these stories needed to be shared with the American people.”

The premier issue of Children First highlights two children, Blake and Corree, whose lives were dramatically affected by the Educational Choice Charitable Trust in Indianapolis, the first privately funded parental choice program in the nation. Launched in 1991 by J. Patrick Rooney, Chairman Emeritus of the Golden Rule Insurance Company, the Educational Choice Charitable Trust has inspired similar efforts in cities across the country.

Blake and Corree are just two of literally thousands of children who have been given new hope and greater opportunities through the power of a simple transforming idea: Let parents choose where their children go to school.

New Voucher Program Launched in Miami

The private voucher movement expanded into south Florida in June, when Miami Inner City Angels (MICA) announced the creation of that region’s first privately funded school voucher program, Overtown Vouchers for School Choice. The program, with a commitment of at least $200,000 from MICA, is designed to give low-income families in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami the opportunity to choose their child’s school.

The MICA project is modeled after CEO America of Central Florida, organized in 1995 and based in Orlando. MICA was created by Miami businessman Michael Carricarte Jr. in an effort to enrich the lives of the children of Overtown by giving them the opportunity to attend the school of their choice.

“Without this program, it is doubtful that these children would have the opportunity to make a choice such as this in their educational life,” said Carricarte. “We hope this effort will benefit not only the children, but their families and their community.”

If Overtown families are empowered to choose good schools for their children, MICA organizers and supporters expect the following results:

  • Children are more likely to finish school;
  • Families are likely to be more actively involved in their children’s education;
  • All schools–public, private, and parochial–will get better and stronger;
  • Neighborhoods will be improved and enriched through greater school diversity.

The program is open to Overtown children in grades K-5 whose families qualify for the Federal Free or Reduced Lunch program, with 10 percent of the vouchers assigned to qualified children who are already enrolled in a private school in Overtown. The vouchers, which will be awarded by means of a lottery, have a value of $1,000 or 50 percent of the total cost of tuition plus fees and books [GEORGE: WHICHEVER IS LESS?]. Students will be tested periodically to measure the effectiveness of the program.

“We believe this program will have a meaningful impact on the lives of many children,” said Carricarte, “and we look forward to measuring their success.”