In this Update:
Fighting to Support Students in Failing Schools
An estimated 250,000 students in Pennsylvania are trapped in failing schools – many of which have only a small percentage of students performing at grade level in reading or math. The Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS) program would offer scholarships to support new services and learning opportunities for students in the state’s lowest-performing schools so these young people can have a brighter future.
The program would provide new educational options without taking a single penny away from public schools. To provide assistance to students and families who need it most, scholarships would only be available to families earning below 250% of the federal poverty level – about $75,000 for a family of four.
Gov. Josh Shapiro originally voiced his support for PASS scholarships on the campaign trail and included the program in the budget deal he negotiated with Senate Republicans. However, he recently said he would unilaterally remove funding for the program from the state budget.
Senate Republicans will keep fighting to empower parents and give every child access to educational opportunities.
Free Webinars to Help Students and Families Navigate the Financial Aid Process
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is holding two free statewide webinars to assist college-bound students and their families with navigating the financial aid process.
Speakers will discuss how students and families can take advantage of PA Forward, which is Pennsylvania’s state-based private student loan option offered by PHEAA.
The first webinar, Deep Dive into Covering the Gap, will be held Tuesday, July 25, at noon. The second, Borrowing for Education – Which Loan is Right for Me?, will be held Thursday, July 27, at 6:30 p.m. Register to attend the one-hour webinars here.
How to Conserve Water During Statewide Drought Watch
The Department of Environmental Protection declared a statewide drought watch and is encouraging residents and businesses to voluntarily conserve water by reducing nonessential water use.
Some ways to limit water use include watering the garden less frequently; sweeping your sidewalk, deck or driveway instead of hosing it off; and running the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads. Read more water conservation tips here.
The current drought declaration status, by county, can be found here.
Water Assistance Available for Low-Income Families
The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) is a temporary emergency program to help low-income families pay overdue water bills. The money does not need to be repaid.
LIHWAP assistance may be available if you have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing your water service. You can receive one crisis grant for your drinking water service and one crisis grant for your wastewater service, up to $2,500 each. Qualifying crisis situations include past-due water bills, termination of utility service and danger of having utility service terminated (received a notice that service will be shut off within the next 60 days).
For more information – including income limits – or to apply for assistance, click here.
Sign Up for PA’s Do Not Call List
Unwanted telemarketing calls can be a nuisance and an intrusion upon your privacy, but there are ways to minimize the calls.
Unfortunately, because of spoofing – a call showing a different name or phone number than is actually associated with the caller – signing up for the Do Not Call list will not stop all unwanted calls.
Beware of Unsolicited Emails Claiming to be from PA Treasury
Online scams are a constant threat. Lately, there have been sophisticated phishing emails imitating the Pennsylvania Treasury Department circulating. The messages include a link to what appears to be Treasury’s website, but instead leads to a fake version that prompts users to enter log-in credentials.
The Pennsylvania Treasury Department will never ask you to share personal information through unsolicited emails or text messages.
If you receive a suspicious message claiming to be from the Pennsylvania Treasury Department or have questions, contact Treasury through its secure website.
Celebrating Independent Retailer Month
July is Independent Retailer Month, a shop local event that encourages consumers to patronize small businesses. It also highlights the positive impact independent retailers have on their communities, through the jobs and economic boost they produce.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there were 1.1 million small businesses in Pennsylvania that employed 2.6 million people in 2022.
To support employers in the commonwealth and the benefits they provide, Senate Republicans passed a state budget that adds tens of millions of new dollars for workforce development, job training, and career and technical education.
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