Inspired by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Big Shoulders Fund was founded by a group of business and civic leaders in 1986 to provide support to Catholic schools in the neediest areas of Chicago.For more than 34 years, Big Shoulders Fund has helped Chicago’s children in need achieve their dreams through access to a quality, values-based education. Big Shoulders Fund accomplish this by investing more than $30 million annually in scholarship support and academic enrichment for students, operational improvements for schools, leadership development programs for the next generation of school leaders, and academic programs and professional development for teachers.
Big Shoulders has earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest evaluator of nonprofit, for 14 consecutive years, a distinction held by less than one percent of nonprofit organizations nationally.
In October of 2019, a generous new gift from Bruce White, Founder and Chairman of Merrillville, Indiana-based White Lodging, and his wife Beth created 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.
Regional Director - NW Indiana Initiative
Director, Community Partnerships & Engagement, Northwest Indiana Initiative
Vicente Del Real
Latino Outreach Coordinator