Time to take next step in Allocate to Elevate process

January 31, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

Habitat President/CEO Jason Barlow, speaking in November at Serve the City (now called Lopes Go Local), said repairs in the GCU-Habitat partnership could not be completed without employees’ Allocate to Elevate support.

By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau

The spreadsheets are out, the receipts accounted for and the software fired up — and that isn’t all that should be fired up.

Grand Canyon University and Grand Canyon Education employees who are participating in the workplace-giving program Allocate to Elevate should be fired up, too, to see their generosity come full circle.

Tax season marks the time when GCU and GCE employees take the next step in the Allocate to Elevate process, since pledging to the program and the three initiatives it fosters – Habitat for Humanity, School Choice Arizona (in support of private Christian education) and public-school extracurricular programs – is just the beginning.

Sheila Jones

“We’re just trying to go above and beyond” in making sure employees feel supported during the Allocate to Elevate process, from the time they pledge to tax time, said Sheila Jones, Director of Academic Alliances and the Allocate to Elevate program at GCU. “It’s more than just pledging.”

What’s next is for employees to look for their tax receipts from the organizations they’re supporting that verify those pledge amounts. By the end of January, those who designated funds to Habitat for Humanity will find their tax receipt in their email, and staff and faculty who pledged to School Choice Arizona will find that paperwork in their mailbox. Staff and faculty who are supporting public-school extracurricular programs – it’s the one initiative of the three that does not go through payroll – can contact their chosen school directly for that information.

They then need to enter the information from those receipts onto their state tax forms to get credit for those financial designations: that would be Arizona Form 321 for Habitat for Humanity, Arizona Form 322 for public schools and Arizona Form 323 for School Choice.

Allocate to Elevate, which made its debut in 2013, allows employees to tell the state how to use their state tax dollars instead of the state putting those dollars into a general tax bucket and deciding how to spend that funding. Through the program, they can divert the taxes they normally would pay to the state to one or more of those three initiatives – Habitat, School Choice and public school extracurriculars, all of which align with the University’s Christian and educational mission.

In its first year, employees redirected $218,000 to Allocate to Elevate, which is funded through the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit and Public-School Credit.

This year’s Allocate to Elevate goal: $3.4 million.

The goal this year: a lofty $3.4 million – that’s almost 16 times more than employees’ contribution to the program just nine years ago.

Staff and faculty who make pledges through Allocate to Elevate receive a dollar-for-dollar reduction of the income tax they owe, meaning if they owe $500 in federal taxes but are eligible for a $500 tax credit, their net liability drops to zero.

What’s important to note is that employees’ paychecks are not affected by participating in the program, Jones said.

Employees who are married filing jointly can receive an $800 maximum tax credit for pledging to a Qualifying Charitable Organization such as Habitat for Humanity. Those who file as single, heads of household or married filing separately can receive a $400 maximum tax credit.

The maximum tax credit for pledges to School Choice Arizona for those who are married filing jointly is $1,221 for the 2021 tax year, and those who are single, heads of household or married filing separately can receive a maximum credit of $611.

Employees who are married filing jointly and contribute to public schools receive a maximum credit of $400. The credit is $200 for those who are single, heads of household or married filing separately.

Those pledges are a lifeblood to the three causes the Allocate program supports.

During the pandemic, GCU and GCE employees redirected about $1.47 million, through Allocate to Elevate, to Habitat.

Take Habitat for Humanity, the University’s community partner in renovating homes for families in need in the Canyon Corridor and nearby Maryvale.

During the pandemic, even though Habitat home repair projects were suspended because of COVID-19 precautions, employees still supported the home-building organization financially, redirecting about $1.47 million of their tax dollars to Habitat – a little more than $863,000 in 2020 and almost $607,000 in 2021.

Since GCU’s partnership with Habitat began in 2015, employees have contributed $4.4 million to Habitat through Allocate to Elevate. Those funds have supported almost 1,000 home repairs for 400 families.

Jason Barlow, President and Chief Executive Officer of Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, said at a Lopes Go Local (formerly Serve the City) event in November that those pledges “go into this love blanket, I call it, that hangs over this entire area – this whole Canyon Corridor.”

Families who receive the home-improvement help through Habitat and GCU pay about 33% of the cost of the work being done on their home project. The rest comes “out of that blanket of love from all of you and your staff and faculty.”

That’s how important Allocate to Elevate has been and continues to be.

Although employees can contribute to the program any time of year, the Allocate to Elevate team is pushing to reach its $3.4 million pledge goal by tax deadline day on April 15.

Faculty and staff looking for a school to pledge to might consider some of the campuses that partner with GCU, such as nearby Empower College Prep (above).

For faculty and staff who have yet to pledge and are looking to re-route their tax dollars and want to choose a public school, Dr. Tacy Ashby, Senior Vice President of K12 Educational Development, hopes they might consider schools who are partnering with GCU through the K12 Targeted School Assistance initiative: Westwood Elementary and Royal Palm junior high schools in Phoenix, Empower College Prep in Phoenix, Desert Oasis Elementary in Tolleson, Anderson Junior High in Chandler and Cortez Junior High in Glendale.

The campus community rallied during the pandemic and, despite all the financial challenges, exceeded its $3.2 million Allocate goal in 2021 by contributing more than $3.271 million.

The team hasn’t yet met its pledge goal this year, though “pledges are still coming in strong,” Jones said.

She knows the campus community will rally once again.

GCU senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.


Related content:

GCU Today: Allocate to Elevate never on backburner for one team

GCU Today: Allocate to Elevate continues to lift up community

GCU Today: GCU prof finds allocating taxes can elevate children

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