Investment Ensures 30 Big Shoulders Fund Schools Serving 5,600 Children Will Remain Open

Big Shoulders Fund is proud to announce a nearly $50 million ten-year philanthropic commitment to 30 of its highest need schools, enabling them to remain open and viable, and to continue enriching their local communities. For 33 years, Big Shoulders Fund has supported Chicago’s neighborhoods by providing financial, programmatic, and operational support to its network of schools and ensuring students of all backgrounds have access to these important community-based organizations.  

“We are honored to be able to provide this historic level of investment to help strengthen communities throughout the greater-Chicago area. Our own research has shown that alumni of our schools go on to vote, study, work, and volunteer at rates higher than their peers, becoming the citizens and neighbors that make our communities and Chicago a better place for all of us to live.  Additionally, research has shown that when our schools close, communities suffer,” said Founding Chairman and current Co-Chairman, James J. O’Connor.

As part of this ten-year commitment, Big Shoulders Fund will not only significantly increase its funding level to help operate the schools, but will also take on an expanded leadership role with principals in these schools to help them manage their schools toward specific goals in key operating areas of academics, enrollment, development, and finances. Big Shoulders Fund will invest additional resources to help leaders in these 30 schools to improve, measure progress, and achieve an ambitious vision for the children, schools, and communities they serve. As a result of this investment, and a more active involvement in helping principals manage their schools toward long term viability, Big Shoulders Fund will be able to make a more significant impact on schools and communities in need.

“In many ways, this is the natural next step for Big Shoulders Fund in our relationship with these schools and the way we work with them today and in the future. Over the last 15 years, we have strengthened our scholarship programs, while adding significant new capabilities to provide operational and academic assistance for schools – marketing, financial planning, professional development for educators, talent recruitment and development, etc. – and we look forward to working with our schools in this new and evolving capacity. We have grown from investing $12 million in 2011 to more than $26 million this past year, with 45 percent of that focused on our operational and academic support to schools,” said Josh Hale, President and CEO of Big Shoulders Fund.

Under the agreement, the 30 schools will remain part of the Archdiocese of Chicago and will continue to receive financial support from the Archdiocese.

Big Shoulders Fund will also continue to support its full network of schools and programs through significant annual investments, which exceeded $26 million during the 2018-19 school year, in addition to the organization’s expansion into Northwest Indiana, as announced in October 2019. The expansion into Northwest Indiana was made possible through a fully-funded restricted gift, independent from Big Shoulders Fund’s Chicago program funding. 

Big Shoulders Fund enjoys support from a committed philanthropic community that believes in the potential of these students and is eager to support these schools and their long legacy of serving as some of Chicago’s most effective doors to opportunity for communities in need. Preliminary investments pledged toward this initiative total $5 million, with a lead gift from John and Kathy Schreiber.

“Kathy and I are proud to make the initial investment in this extension of Big Shoulders Fund programming to take on a more operational role in their schools. This accomplishes one of the primary areas of our philanthropy – provide financially poor children who are rich in talent, passion and hard work a pathway toward a brighter future,” said Big Shoulders Fund Executive Committee Member John Schreiber. Big Shoulders Fund will be launching a campaign to raise additional funds.

Statements from Big Shoulders Fund Leadership

“This is in an investment in Chicago.  Our focus is and always has been the children and ensuring their access to a quality, values-based education in a safe and structured environment.  But this long-term and very significant investment will pay dividends for Chicago’s ability to keep families, who want what all parents want, rooted in Chicago.” 

– John A. Canning, Jr., Co-Chairman, Big Shoulders Fund

“Daniel Burnham encouraged Chicagoans to make no little plans.  Like the day Big Shoulders Fund was founded nearly 35 years ago, a new plan has been put in motion that will again ignite the passion and souls of Chicagoans to help deserving children of diverse racial, economic, and religious backgrounds. Big Shoulders Fund has and continues to be a force for good in Chicago.”

– Monsignor Ken Velo, Co-Chairman, Big Shoulders Fund

The schools included in this agreement, and the community area they serve, are: 
  1. Academy of St. Benedict the African (West Englewood)
  2. Augustus Tolton Academy (Park Manor)
  3. Children of Peace School (Near West Side)
  4. Epiphany Catholic School (South Lawndale)
  5. Holy Angels School (Grand Boulevard)
  6. Leo Catholic High School (Auburn Gresham)
  7. Maternity B.V.M. School (Humboldt Park)
  8. Most Blessed Trinity Academy (Waukegan)
  9. Our Lady of Grace School (Logan Square)
  10. Our Lady of Guadalupe School (South Chicago)
  11. Our Lady of Tepeyac Elementary School (South Lawndale)
  12. Our Lady of Tepeyac High School (South Lawndale)
  13. Pope John Paul II Catholic School (Brighton Park)
  14. Queen of the Universe School (West Lawn)
  15. St. Ailbe School (Calumet Heights)
  16. St. Angela School (Austin)
  17. St. Ann School (Lower West Side)
  18. St. Catherine of Siena/St. Lucy School (Austin / Oak Park)
  19. St. Ethelreda School (Auburn Gresham)
  20. St. Gall School (Gage Park)
  21. St. Genevieve School (Belmont Cragin)
  22. St. John de la Salle Catholic Academy (Roseland)
  23. St. Malachy School (Near West Side)
  24. St. Margaret of Scotland School (Washington Heights)
  25. St. Mary Star of The Sea School (West Lawn)
  26. St. Nicholas of Tolentine School (West Lawn)
  27. St. Philip Neri School (South Shore)
  28. St. Pius V School (Lower West Side)
  29. St. Sylvester School (Logan Square)
  30. Visitation Catholic School (Back of the Yards / Englewood)