Allocate to Elevate sets $3.2 million pledge goal
By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau
Dr. Ryan Melillo never thought his son, Evan, would attend private school.
Melillo grew up in Ohio, where the educational system looks a little different than it does in Arizona. Here, private and charter schools seem to be as plentiful as public schools.
But as Evan completed his freshman year in high school, Melillo and his wife, Amanda, decided with Evan that he would go down a different educational path. This fall, he started his first year at Paradise Valley Christian Preparatory School.
“We are pleased he’s getting the opportunity to hear the Christian worldview. For us, that’s worth it. We want him, especially at the high school level, to hear it from someone other than us,” said Melillo, who teaches anatomy and physiology at Grand Canyon University.
Choosing to go to a private Christian school might not have been something Melillo and his family would have considered if not for help from Allocate to Elevate. The GCU and Grand Canyon Education employee-giving program, formerly called Donate to Elevate, allows anyone who owes state taxes to redirect those funds to Qualifying Charitable Organizations, including School Choice Arizona, Habitat for Humanity, and Public Schools Extracurricular.
For families such as Melillo’s, the cost of attending a private Christian school can be prohibitive.
“It’s expensive, and, yes, the help is needed,” said Melillo, whose family lives on his income alone — Amanda, an accountant, chose to stay at home after Evan was born.
While Melillo has participated in Allocate to Elevate for many years – he has pledged his state taxes to Habitat for Humanity and to help various students in their education – this will be the first year his family will be on the receiving end.
Allocate to Elevate launches its eighth year this month and will do so not just with a new name but a new pledge goal — an ambitious $3.2 million.
“We thought the new name correlates more to what we’re doing. It’s an allocation of your taxes rather than a donation,” said K12 Educational Development Director Sheila Jones.
The program diverts what employees would otherwise pay into state taxes to Qualifying Charitable Organizations approved by the Arizona Department of Revenue. GCU employee contributions have grown significantly since 2013, when they redirected $218,000 of their tax dollars that inaugural year.
Just seven years later and employees shattered the $2.8 million pledge goal in 2019 by rerouting more than $3 million of their state taxes to Charitable Organizations.
Allocate to Elevate organizers want to surpass those numbers in 2020, adding $400,000 to last year’s $2.8 million goal.
Through the program, employees can choose where they want their tax dollars spent rather than putting those funds in a giant government bucket and letting the government decide where those funds will go.
GCU and GCE employees can choose to divert what state taxes they owe to partners such as these that make a difference and align with the University’s efforts in the community:
- Habitat for Humanity, which GCU and GCE support by supplying volunteers to help renovate and repair homes in the Canyon Corridor;
- School Choice Arizona to help families pay for private school education that they otherwise might not be able to afford, and;
- Public school extracurricular programs to help kindergarten through 12th grade students pay public school extracurricular fees.
Dr. Tacy Ashby, Senior Vice President of K12 Educational Development, encourages employees who are looking to reroute their taxes to a public school to consider choosing a campus that has established a focused partnership with GCU through the K12 Targeted School Assistance initiative: Westwood Elementary and Royal Palm Junior High schools in Phoenix, Desert Oasis Elementary in Tolleson, Andersen Junior High in Chandler and Cortez Junior High in Glendale.
Allocate to Elevate is just one more way the University lives its mission to be of service to its neighbors and restore the community.
Jones emphasized that employee pay is not affected for Allocate to Elevate participants – there’s no difference in take-home pay. Employees are simply telling the state how they want their taxes spent.
GCU and GCE employees have helped 257 families by volunteering to renovate homes through Habitat for Humanity and Operation Revival, the GCU neighborhood revitalization initiative.
“It has been a privilege to observe the growing impact of Allocate to Elevate, all due to the generous participation of our employees,” Ashby said. “The University initiative has greatly benefited K12 Christian and public school students and schools in significant ways. It also has assisted the lives of many individual homeowners and our West Valley community, in general.
“We look forward to continuing to expand the influence of our employees through this tax credit opportunity as they make a difference in many lives. We very much appreciate everyone’s participation.”
Jones, too, is hoping for the same kind of outstanding participation in the program in 2020.
“Allocate to Elevate had such a phenomenal year in 2019, and the program is growing by leaps and bounds,” Jones said. “I am so excited to see what our employees can do for 2020. They are going to knock it out of the park.”
For Melillo and his wife, who are expecting to see those allocations for Evan’s education arrive in November, “It’s kind of our hope that our son is going to strengthen the faith that he’s developed under our guidance,” he said. “Can you really put a price on that?”
Follow GCU senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.