October 10, 2018

MythBusters: Catholic School Edition

MythBusters is a popular television show that validates or discredits popular myths. Below we take a look at some common perceptions about Catholic schools. Continue reading to learn what is fact vs. fiction in the schools Big Shoulders Fund supports.


  1. You have to be Catholic to enroll in a Catholic School.

MYTH: You do not have to be Catholic to enroll. In fact, 1/3 of students enrolled in Big Shoulders schools are non-Catholic. In some of our schools, more than 90 percent of the students are NOT Catholic.  Being Catholic is not a requirement for admissions in any of our schools. 


  1. Graduates of Catholic schools have higher high school graduation rates, enroll in college at higher rates, and are more engaged in their community than their peers enrolled in public schools.

FACT: Here are a few stats about Big Shoulders Fund students:

  • 96% attendance rate
  • Elementary students beat national averages for growth on standardized assessments
  • 85% of Big Shoulders Fund scholars choose to attend a Catholic or selective/quality public school
  • 95% high school graduation rate
  • 85% graduating scholars enroll in college
  • Alumni graduate from college at nearly 2x the national rate

These facts align with statistics of Catholic Schools nationwide!

  • 99% of students who attend Catholic high school graduate. Of those, 88% attend 4-year colleges (NCEA).
  • The achievement gap is smaller in faith-based schools (Jeynes, 2007; Marks & Lee, 1989).
  • Catholic schools tend to produce graduates who are more civically engaged, more tolerant for diverse views, and more committed to service as adults (Campbell, 2001; Greeley & Rossi, 1966; Greene, 1998; Wolf, Greene, Kleitz, & Thalhammer, 2001).


  1. Catholic Schools are only for wealthy families.

MYTH: Catholic schools offer scholarships and financial aid to families. Schools are willing to work with families who qualify and are interested in applying for financial aid.  Call your local Big Shoulders Fund School today and ask how you can get started on the admissions and financial aid process.


  1. It is nearly impossible to get accepted in a Catholic school.

MYTH: Catholic schools provide an excellent education with small class sizes in a safe, nurturing environment, and there are typically open seats at most grade levels in all of our schools. Call the school of your choice today to see what the admissions requirements are and if there are seats available.


As you can see, Catholic schools provide a strong academic foundation for a lifetime of success. Catholic schools are inclusive, affordable, safe, and partner with families to provide an excellent educational option.

So what are you waiting for? Find your local Big Shoulders Fund school today!


September 17, 2018


Back to School Photo Contest 

Thanks to everyone who participated in our Discover the Difference – Back to School photo contest. We loved seeing so many happy students and families. The Big Shoulders Fund Difference is alive throughout Chicago in our loving school communities. These photos capture the spirit of our schools – places where students have a safe space to explore their talents and develop a strong academic foundation. It’s no coincidence that 85% of graduating Big Shoulders Fund scholars enroll in college and our alumni graduate from college at 2X the national rate. Our high schools have a 95% high school graduation rate and, last year, 74% of Big Shoulders Fund scholars who had renewable scholarships throughout elementary school, continued on to a Catholic, selective enrollment, International Baccalaureate or magnet high school. 

It was nearly impossible to pick a winner for our Back to School Photo Contest, but our esteemed Big Shoulders Fund staff selected the following winners:


First Place:





















Runners Up:









August 22, 2018


Change Your Child’s Life TODAY: Enroll at a Big Shoulders Fund School

By Maria Ippolito

For over 30 years, Big Shoulders Fund has been a consistent source of support in Chicago’s inner-city Catholic schools by supporting four major areas – scholarships and enrichment, operational improvements, academic programs, and leadership development.

Big Shoulders Fund schools are delivering an excellent educational option to families in the city by strengthening schools and communities and preparing students for long term success – as evidenced by the track record of success demonstrated by our scholars.



Here are 10 reasons to enroll in a Big Shoulders Fund school today.

  1. Scholarships and financial aid are widely available making tuition affordable. This year, Big Shoulders Fund will support approximately 5,500 students through our traditionally funded scholarship programs and Tax Credit Scholarship Program.
  2. Schools’ Early Childhood Programs often cost less than local day cares and they provide toddlers with a strong foundation for lifelong learning, including cognitive and social development.
  3. 85% of graduating seniors enroll in college and our alumni graduate from college at 2X the national rate.
  4. 85% of our scholars choose to attend a Catholic, selective enrollment, International Baccalaureate or magnet high school. Big Shoulders Fund high schools have a 95% high school graduation rate. 
  5. Schools offer small class sizes which allow for individualized attention from teachers.
  6. Schools teach character development, values, and the importance of service to others.
  7. Teachers participate in multiple professional development opportunities throughout the school year and adapt teaching styles to cater to students’ diverse learning needs.
  8. Innovative and advanced academic programming that prepares students for the jobs and demands of the 21st century.
  9. Our partnerships with world-class organizations offer one-of-a kind opportunities to scholars. For example, our entrepreneurship and stockmarket program help to prepare scholars for a financially healthy and secure future.
  10. Our annual Early High School Bridge Program and College Symposium help to prepare scholars for the next step in their academic careers.

If you are a new family interested in enrolling in one of our Big Shoulders Fund schools, contact us at

We look forward to welcoming you to the Big Shoulders Fund Family! Click here to learn more about the Big Shoulders Fund impact.


About the author: 

Maria Ippolito is a consultant for Big Shoulders Fund. She has worked in Catholic education for over 13 years as a teacher, coach, advancement director and communications director. In addition to her work with Big Shoulders, she speaks at diocesan conferences around the country on the topic of enrollment management. She is a mom of two little boys and is a proud Big Shoulders Fund school parent.


August 7, 2018


Opportunity Scholarship 

Big Shoulders Fund has launched a new scholarship program that will open doors for over 1,000 new students.

The Opportunity Scholarship will allow new families to receive a quality, values-based education at one of our participating Big Shoulders Fund schools.

This scholarship will provide up to $1,500 off yearly tuition and is renewable for up to 3 years. Many of our schools also offer their own tuition assistance programs for families seeking additional support.









Applying is easy!

Click here to view the map of participating Big Shoulders Fund Schools. We encourage you to find a school near you and contact them directly about the possibility of receiving an Opportunity Scholarship.

To qualify you must:

  • Enroll at a participating Big Shoulders Fund school*
  • Be new to the Catholic school system
  • Your child must be enrolled in an eligible grade (K – 8)

Why Big Shoulders Fund?

  • In the last decade, over $60 million to 50,000 scholars
  • The largest private k-12 scholarship program in Illinois
  • Over 30 years of impact raising over $300 million
  • Proven track record of scholar success in high school & beyond

Of course, we’d also be happy to help you find and connect with a participating school near you. Please email us at with your zip code and any other pertinent information about your child/family and we can connect you with a school principal or admissions director who is waiting for your call.

Don’t delay; quantities are limited and the application deadline is August 10, 2018.

We are saving a seat for your child in one of our amazing schools!


*If you are currently receiving a Big Shoulders Fund Scholarship or a Tax Credit Scholarship, you are NOT eligible for the Opportunity Scholarship.