Commitment Protects the Long-Term Vitality of 32 Chicago Schools, Collectively Serving Nearly 6,000 Students

August 30, 2022 (CHICAGO) – Big Shoulders Fund today announced the addition of two schools from its network, St. Francis de Sales High School and St. Sabina Academy, to the Big Shoulders Fund Plus initiative. As Big Shoulders Fund Plus schools, St. Francis de Sales High School and St. Sabina Academy will join 30 other high-need schools in receiving additional academic and operational support, aimed at preserving their long-term vitality.

In 2020, Big Shoulders Fund made an unprecedented 10-year, $70M commitment to 30 of its highest-need schools, enabling these schools to remain open and viable and to continue enriching the local communities that they serve. In just over one year, Big Shoulders Fund has raised more than $58M of that commitment, and is now inviting the broader public to join in this vision and invest in Chicago’s children and communities.

“Big Shoulders Fund Plus schools, including recently added St. Francis de Sales and St. Sabina Academy, are located in neighborhoods and communities that have suffered from years of underinvestment,” said Josh Hale, President and CEO of Big Shoulders Fund. “Despite this, the children in these neighborhoods are rich in talent, passion, hard work and hope. Ensuring that these students continue to have access to a high-quality education in a safe and supportive environment is critical to providing a path that will enable these children to grow up to be productive, positive forces in their communities and in the world.”

As part of this agreement, which was made with the Archdiocese of Chicago, Big Shoulders Fund assumed a 51 percent financial stake in these schools and has taken on more direct management, working closely with principals and school leaders to help them to manage their schools, plan strategically and work towards specific academic, enrollment, developmental and financial goals, as well as create new professional development opportunities and an extended career path for school leaders. This increased operational management support has already translated into significant outcomes. In just the last year alone, the 30 Big Shoulders Fund Plus schools saw an enrollment increase of 8%, with pre-kindergarten enrollment increasing 28%.

“Working hand in hand with Big Shoulders Fund, I have seen what a difference their commitment to our school, staff, students and families makes to both St. Francis de Sales High School and the Southeast Side community,” said Roni-Nicole Facen, Principal and CEO of St. Francis de Sales High School. “Through the launch of our work study program, professional development for staff, grants for academic initiatives, scholarship support, marketing and development resources and more, Big Shoulders Fund is a true partner. We are excited for our future and to formalize our work together by joining the cadre of Big Shoulders Fund Plus schools!”

Principal Tiffany Brown of St. Sabina Academy said, “We are thrilled to have become a part of the exceptional Big Shoulder Fund Plus network and we look forward to our partnership and the support that we will receive as we work together to provide a rich educational experience for children. St. Sabina Academy has been in the Auburn Gresham community for over 100 years, providing a family atmosphere where students and families are known, safe, loved, and nurtured. This partnership not only helps to ensure that we can continue that work, it will also enable us to make an even bigger impact on the families who call this neighborhood home.”

“Big Shoulders Fund Plus not only ensures that these schools remain open for the students and families they serve, but allows for the schools to continue to provide critical stability and support to the broader community,” added Hale. “Our vision is that the Big Shoulders Fund Plus initiative is the model for the future, with capacity to incorporate more schools and impact more children.”

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