October 21st, 2019

Helping Heritage Academy Deliver Educational Opportunity

Educational opportunities allow communities to plot new trajectories for students from low-income families. Arete Scholars partners with Heritage Academy in Augusta, Georgia to create and extend such opportunity. 

Read our interview with Heritage Academy Executive Director, Linda Tucciarone to learn about the impact such programs have. 

Curious about educational opportunities in Georgia and Louisiana? Download the most recent Arete Impact Report

Arete: Can you share a little bit about Heritage Academy? 

Mrs. Tucciarone: Heritage Academy started in 2001 when the Cleveland voucher system began. We were well aware of the situation low-income families faced when it came to sending their children to school. The were often zoned into school districts that performed poorly, were underfunded, and were ill-equipped to provide children with a quality education. So we opened up to serve as an alternative. We focus on low-to-moderate-income families, and tuition is scaled based on the parent’s capacity to pay.

Arete: How has Heritage Academy been able to thrive?

Mrs. Tucciarone: We’re able to do what we do thanks to our amazing staff, supporting network, and the companies we work with that sponsor the kids. [85% of tuition] is covered by tax credits that we get from amazing companies like Arete, so we and the families of the students are very thankful for that. We started with 10 students and have since grown to around 270.

We really want to help families that can’t help their zip-code. Often in other schools, scholarship aid simply helps higher-income families. Companies like Arete help us open more seats for low-income families to truly make a difference in their lives and in their future. 

Arete: It’s amazing that you’ve been able to grow so much. Can you tell us more about how students typically fare at Heritage?

Mrs. Tucciarone: Well, we seldom have students that don’t thrive at Heritage, despite how thorough our curriculum and standards are. One great example is a boy named Ronald. 

He came from a school where his grades and behavior were, unfortunately, a problem. He and his 9 siblings are being primarily raised by his grandmother. Thankfully, an amazing couple in town has taken both him and his brother under their wing, and since the opportunity arose for him to attend Heritage, there’s really been a turnaround in his life. 

Now he’s involved in sports and he's at the top of his class. But the best part is that Ronald is just ONE of the 70 stories of Arete Scholars succeeding at Heritage Academy. 

Arete: That’s amazing! What propels your mission and the change you’ve been able to witness? What motivates you to grow the school and the program?

Mrs. Tucciarone: I was the oldest of 7 children from a working class family. Neither of my parents graduated from high school. My parents worked tirelessly and I was blessed to attend a prestigious Catholic Girls School. After attending college, getting married, starting a family, and getting my Doctorate in Molecular Biology, I was in my 40’s and I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to draw from my past to start a Christian school that gave kids the opportunity I was so thankful for. My story and my past are anything but rare. My story is reflected in so many of our student’s stories. 

Arete: What do you try to communicate to donors?

Mrs. Tucciarone: When presented with an opportunity that brings hope, combined with a track record of transformation, people are ready to get on board. People are compelled by the needs and interests of children. And nothing is more transforming than an education. If a donor or tax payer sees a way of participating and has confidence in who is providing that opportunity, they are going to respond. 

Arete: What goals do you have for growth or servicing students?

Mrs. Tucciarone: 50% of our budget is covered by tax credits that we get from companies like Arete. We are always thankful for SSO’s like Arete that help provide scholarships and grants. 

The more they’re able to provide, the more we’re able to educate. Without them, we couldn’t provide the opportunities that we can.

Arete: Is there anything else you’d like to communicate or share about your vision ?

Mrs. Tucciarone: We love Arete. Arete makes it EASY for parents to apply for scholarships, and because of you, we have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many under-privileged children in the area. We have 70 real-life examples in our school of tax-credited donations going to GREAT use.

Arete Scholars partners with sponsors to provide K-12 scholarships for low-income families all across Louisiana and Georgia. 

To learn more about Arete, contact Derek at dmonjure@aretescholars.org or financially contribute to the cause HERE. Through budget-favorable tax credit giving programs, corporations and individuals can make high-impact investments.