Northwest Indiana Initiative


BIG SHOULDERS FUND EXTENDS PROGRAMMING TO NORTHWEST INDIANA THROUGH UNIQUE FULLY FUNDED GIFT

Expanded Footprint Ensures Access and Academic Opportunity for Thousands of Additional Families in Neighboring Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago

October 11, 2019 (CHICAGO) – Big Shoulders Fund, a Chicago-based, independent charitable organization that provides support and assistance to elementary schools and high schools that primarily serve students from low-income backgrounds, is excited to announce a generous new gift from Bruce White, Founder and Chairman of Merrillville, Indiana-based White Lodging, and his wife Beth. This gift from the Bruce and Beth White Family Foundation creates an exciting new chapter for Big Shoulders Fund through the extension of its programming to Northwest Indiana.

Big Shoulders Fund is building off the success of its efforts in Chicago with a long-term commitment to the region over the next decade. Through this commitment, the organization is bringing its unique approach to enhancing the capacity of school communities and supporting students and families to Northwest Indiana, with a special focus on areas of greatest need, including Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago.

The expansion of Big Shoulders Fund’s programming is made possible through the exclusive use of this generous gift, independent from Chicago program funding, totaling $16 million over the course of 10 years. As a result of this gift, Big Shoulders Fund will be able to help even more schools and communities in need, while also remaining fully committed to its network of schools in Chicago, where they have provided long-term academic and operational support for more than 30 years and invested nearly $400 million to date.

Initially, the investment in Northwest Indiana most directly impacts approximately 3,300 students in 10 elementary and high schools in the Catholic Diocese of Gary by providing operational support and academic programming. An additional 10 schools with 2,600 students will benefit from professional development opportunities made available to teachers and administrators through this initiative. Fully funded by this donation, the focus is exclusively on bringing Big Shoulders Fund’s impactful programming to benefit children through increasing volunteerism and enhancing these schools serving high need communities in the White Family’s native Northwest Indiana. Employees of White Lodging, based in Merrillville, Indiana, have also committed to supporting the initiative through volunteerism and other involvement.

“Big Shoulders Fund remains committed to educating students, strengthening families, and preserving communities by keeping schools open and providing children access to a quality, values-based education,” said Josh Hale, President and CEO of Big Shoulders Fund. “We’ve seen a tremendous impact from our efforts, and the investments of many, on those we serve in Chicago, and we are thrilled to be able to expand our involvement to neighboring schools and communities in Northwest Indiana and look forward to partnering with schools in the Catholic Diocese of Gary.”

In line with the organization’s overarching mission to educate students, strengthen families, and preserve communities, Big Shoulders Fund is working to enhance the quality of education in these Catholic schools in Northwest Indiana by offering access to technology, curricular resources, and instructional and data coaching. Furthermore, the organization seeks to improve the long-term viability of these schools by focusing on increasing student enrollment, providing financial aid opportunities and offering students access to STEM scholarships, enrichment, and summer programs.

“My family and I are strong believers in Big Shoulders Fund and its mission, an organization that has been dedicated to providing quality education and academic access for students in safe, secure, and supportive environments, strengthening schools and entire communities for more than 30 years,” said Beth White.

“Having grown up in the region, we are honored to be able to help Big Shoulders Fund expand its reach to Northwest Indiana and positively impact the lives of thousands of additional students and families and the communities in which they live,” commented Bruce White.

Hale added, “We are so grateful for the White Family’s tremendous support and generosity, which has made it possible for us to provide support and assistance to additional communities in need. Not only are they making this extension of our programming to Northwest Indiana possible, but they will also continue to support Big Shoulders Fund in Chicago through scholarships, operational support for schools, and summer enrichment programs. For our Board, this was an easy decision. A fully funded gift to help more children? Of course!”

For more than 30 years, Big Shoulders Fund has been making long-term financial and operational investments in 75 inner-city schools in Chicago that serve 20,000 students with the sole purpose of educating students, strengthening families, and preserving communities. The organization is committed to ensuring that access to a quality, values-based education, in a safe and inclusive environment, remains an option for all regardless of religion, race or socioeconomic background. Through innovative programming in four key areas – scholarship and enrichment, operational improvements, leadership development, and vigorous academics – Big Shoulders Fund plays a critical role in keeping schools open, preserving educational choice and academic stability for thousands of families.