It can be rare in today’s day and age to find people who truly love their jobs, but Mary Jo Wahlers is one of those people. The journey to her current position was a natural one — she started as a parish member, moved into a volunteer position, and eventually landed as the Director of Advancement for St. Simon and Jude Cathedral School.


Wahlers joined Catholic Education Arizona (CEA) Director of Partnerships, Colleen McCoy-Cejka to discuss the good that the Arizona tax credit tuition programs are doing in local communities and how her team is educating people on taking advantage of these programs.

How Tax Credits Change Lives

Having sent her own children to Catholic schools, Wahlers understands how beneficial a Catholic education can be. According to the Alliance for Catholic Education, about 10% of Catholic teens attend Catholic schools. She expresses how passionate she is about making this type of schooling accessible to families of all incomes, saying, “When [Catholic education] was created, it was not created to be for the elite … It is not private, it is Catholic. Anyone who seeks to have a Catholic, Christ-centered education for their child should be able to have one.”


Arizona tuition tax credits make it so that children who never believed they could afford to attend Catholic schools can do so. Wahlers goes on to say, “All of a sudden, they’re beginning college as a first-generation college student in their family.” Lives are being changed in front of her eyes, and it’s all because of the scholarship tax credits.


Parents who want their children to grow up with opportunities that they did not receive themselves can make this dream a reality. “Catholic education truly changes the trajectory of not just the life of the child, but the life of the family,” says McCoy-Cejka.


Enlightening the Public

Part of what Wahlers does as the Director of Advancement is providing parents and non-parents alike essential information about how they can use tax credits to benefit their children and those in need.


With the gentle guidance of people like Mary Jo Wahlers, more parents can navigate the tax credit process. “You kind of teach them how to fish so that they can fish themselves,” says Wahlers, “and it is a bit of work, but it is so well worth it. What you receive in return is priceless.”


Income isn’t the only consideration when it comes to student inclusion. Wahlers explains that local Spanish-speaking and Vietnamese-speaking families have designated evenings where they can come and learn about the child tax credits.


There is always more to know, however, and speaking to professionals is encouraged. “I do definitely reach out to people in our community who are CPAs or accountants and have them help us, as well,” says Wahlers. For more information on these tax credits, reach out to the dedicated team at Catholic Education Arizona!