Dear Parents,

We are looking forward to the opening of applications for STC awards for the 23-24 school year (next school year).

Thursday, January 12th @ 8:00am: Big Shoulders Fund

Wednesday, January 18th @ 7:00pm: Empower Illinois

To apply for an STC award, parents need to follow a very specific process.


Eligibility is based on income and family size.

Please see the grids below to see if you are eligible:

Most families will use their AGI from their 2021 tax return as proof of income (2021 Federal tax return Form 1040, line 11). If you only qualify using 2022 income or 2022 income will qualify you for a larger scholarship, file 2022 taxes and submit your 2022 return ASAP.


An important clarification of terminology:

  1. SGO’s – Scholarships to JDBY-YTT students have been awarded through two Scholarship Granting Organizations (“SGO’s”): Big Shoulders Fund and Empower Illinois
  2. Reservation – This is a short form you submit. When you complete that form, that’s when you get your timestamp
  3. Application – When you answer questions about family income, child info, school attending, etc.
  4. Documentation – When you upload proof of income and any other required documents

  • Big Shoulders Fund: January 12th @ 8:00am is the Reservation and Application.
    • Documentation will be requested by email at a later date.
  • Empower Illinois: January 18th @ 6:30pm the Reservation opens, and it goes live at 7:00pm.
    • Application and Documentation both need to be completed after you receive a link in an email from Empower Illinois, likely coming on or around Friday January 20th. Please complete the Application and Documentation by Friday, January 27th.

Midwinter vacation

  • Midwinter vacation starts Sunday January 29th. JDBY-YTT will have fewer resources available to assist you during the break.
  • Rabbi Sammy Joseph will be unavailable from 1/29-2/5.

No event

There will be no large-scale, in-person STC reservation/application events. Families are encouraged to do their reservation and application from home.

Every fraction of a moment counts

Scholarships are awarded in computer-generated timestamp order, making it urgent that parents apply as quickly as possible when the application goes “live”. Reservations are timestamped to the 10,000th of a second. For this reason, it is recommended applicants:

  • Are ready 30 minutes before the actual reservation time
  • Use a computer with a wired Ethernet connection to high-speed internet (Wi-Fi is much slower than wired)
  • Turn off ALL other devices connected to the internet network
  • Enable autofill for as many of the fields as possible and set up the autofill fields in advance

Please provide an email address that is checked regularly.

If you need to whitelist the websites due to filters, hopefully whitelisting these sites will give you access to the applications:

Important info to have on hand

Please prepare the following information:

  1. All legal names and English birthdates of the students for whom you will be applying . This only includes children entering Pre1A/K through 12th grade during the 23-24 school year (next year). One application for all kids in all schools. Don’t forget your future Kindergarten/Pre1A student!
  2. Number of people in your household – If applying using 2021 income, enter the number of people who were in your household in 2021, not 2022.
  3. Your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from 2021 Federal tax return Form 1040, line 11.
  4. If you plan to use 2022 income, have your final 2022 paystubs available, and use your 2022 household size. Please also explain in the “Comments/Other Information” section of the Big Shoulders Fund application that 2022 was lower than 2021.

The public school district you live in. (All those who live in Chicago are in the focus school district “City of Chicago SD 299”).

Apply to both SGO’s!

This year, we once again anticipate much hatzlacha with this program b’ezras Hashem through BOTH of those SGO’s.

JDBY-YTT STRONGLY encourages all eligible families to apply to BOTH SGO’s


  • For Big Shoulders Fund:
    • All JDBY-YTT students entering Pre1A/K through 8th grade should be listed as attending Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov. This applies to both boys and girls.
  • For Empower Illinois:
    • All JDBY GIRLS entering K-8 should be listed as attending Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov
    • All YTT BOYS entering Pre1A-8 should be listed as attending Yeshivas Tiferes Tzvi
    • Students entering Nursery in 23-24 are not eligible to receive STC awards
    • While we love all our students currently in 8th grade, they will not be attending JDBY-YTT during 23-24 so you won’t see JDBY-YTT as a school option. Please select a high school.
    • A student is eligible up to 400% FPL if that student received an STC award in ANY previous year. If you’re asked to upload proof of scholarship, you can create a pdf of the award notification email you received from the SGO and upload it. Siblings of an awardee who have NOT previously been awarded remain eligible to 300% FPL. (See details below.)
    • For Big Shoulders Fund, your tax return is not sufficient proof of IL residency even if it shows your current address. You will need to upload another form of proof of address such as driver license, utility bill, etc.

  • Any student who received an STC award in 22-23 will have priority status for 23-24 over students who did not receive in 22-23. It is critically important to inform each SGO if your child received STC in 22-23. If you don’t, that student may not get priority status and may miss out on being awarded.
  • If your child(ren) received an STC award in ANY previous year, know this information in advance:
  • 1) What is the most recent school year your child(ren) received an STC award
  • 2) Which SGO the award came from
  • You can search your emails to ascertain this information


  • Any student who received an STC award in ANY previous school year is eligible to 400% FPL. Siblings who have not been awarded unfortunately do not enjoy expanded eligibility to 400%, and instead remain capped at 300%.
  • Empower Illinois will be updating their application to revise their question about whether a student has received an award in the previous year. They are planning to update this question for the 2023-2024 application to ask 1) if each individual student you are applying for has received an award previously in any year, and 2) if so, in which year most recently, and 3) if that award came from Empower Illinois.
  • Big Shoulders Fund will not be updating their 23-24 application for this question. Families who are between 300-400% with children who have been awarded STC in ANY previous school year should say YES to the question asking if your child received an award in 22-23. If the child actually received in 22-23, great! No further action is necessary regarding this. If the child did NOT receive STC in 22-23 but DID receive STC in a previous school year, applicants should include information in the comments box at the end of the application stating 1) which children did not actually receive in 22-23 but did receive in a previous year and 2) the most recent year they received, and 3) which SGO awarded that child.

Empower Illinois plans to update their application very soon. We will endeavor to provide screenshots of the application to you once it becomes available. Please note the preview linked below is from last year’s application, but it’s still a fantastic tool to give you a feeling of what the application will look like.

Thank you to Rabbi Moshe Wolf from Cheder Lubavitch Hebrew Day School for creating and sharing the step-by-step instruction video for the Empower application with us, as well as the link below to the Big Shoulders mock application. The links can be found below.
If you have any questions, feel free to reply to this email or call Rabbi Sammy Joseph at ext. 680.


Empower Illinois 2022 Application Tutorial