Chicago Students Compete in First Annual Entrepreneurship Challenge

EY and the Big Shoulders Fund Launch a Partnership to Improve STEM Education and
Bring Entrepreneurship to Life


CHICAGO May 12, 2017 – The Chicago office of EY and the Big Shoulders Fund celebrate the first year of a new partnership to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs in the Big Shoulders Fund schools through Defined STEM. The program is an expansion of their three year I-Pad support, but now brings specialized curriculum into all 77 Big Shoulders Fund schools while providing students basic lessons in entrepreneurship.

“EY is committed to helping students prepare for college, and investing in STEM education is critical to college readiness,” said Lee Henderson, Big Shoulders Fund board member and Assurance partner at EY.  “I’m thankful to work for a firm that recognizes the important role the business community plays in supporting education. I’m excited to see how this program will make a meaningful difference in these students’ lives while inspiring them to be the next generation of Chicago entrepreneurs,” he added.

During the school year students from nine schools have been working, with the help of an EY employee mentor, to develop a product or service that would improve the Chicago community. On, Friday, May 12th the program culminated with a competitive team entrepreneurship competition. The students developed pitches, answered questions and explained how their idea was the one worth investing in. The winning project was given $500 investment and the Big Shoulders Fund EY Entrepreneurship trophy. The students in all the classes are excited to find ways to launch their idea and become the next successful Chicago entrepreneur.

“EY has been a strong corporate partner with a clear focus on employee engagement and education especially for underserved children.” said Josh Hale, President and CEO of the Big Shoulders Fund. Hale added, “We are so grateful for EY’s tremendous support.  They enable us to improve the mathematics education available to our students and integrate technology which is so essential to developing the workforce of tomorrow, and now are inspiring students to become entrepreneurs.”

About Big Shoulders Fund

Big Shoulders Fund’s mission is to support inner-city Catholic schools which provide a quality, values-based education, thereby contributing to a stronger community. For more than 30 years, Big Shoulders’ commitment to serving children has been unwavering in its belief that every child deserves access to a safe, high-quality education. Big Shoulders serves students from a vast range of ethnic, economic, and religious backgrounds and each child has access to a first-rate education while attending one of the 77 Big Shoulders Fund schools.

Students at Big Shoulders Fund schools excel with compelling academic results. On average, Big Shoulders Fund elementary students perform above the national average on standardized assessments in math and reading by seventh grade, despite often scoring below the national average as third graders. Big Shoulders Fund high schools have a 95 percent graduation rate. Graduates then go on to enroll in college at rates above their local and national peers, as verified by the National Student Clearinghouse. A recent survey of a sample of alumni of Big Shoulders Fund schools showed African-American alumni graduated from college at a rate more than twice the national average and Hispanic alumni graduated at a rate more than three times the national average.