By ZENIT Staff

The Archdiocese of Chicago and Big Shoulders Fund on January 29, 2020, announced a significant step in protecting the future of Catholic education, particularly on Chicago’s south and west sides. The organizations have entered into an agreement that will enable 30 schools serving 5,600 children, their families, and communities to continue to their mission.

Under the agreement, the Big Shoulders Fund will donate $47.5 million to these 30 schools over ten years and take on their financial risk, with the Archdiocese of Chicago providing $44.9 million. This philanthropic investment from Big Shoulders Fund coupled with a new agreement with the Archdiocese will enable these schools to continue serving families and students; it also enables the Archdiocese of Chicago to stabilize its annual operating aid for Archdiocesan Catholic schools. In this agreement, Big Shoulders Fund will significantly increase its historic funding level helping these schools to remain strong anchors in communities where there is a need for quality educational options. The schools covered by this agreement will remain part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Catholic school system, but Big Shoulders Fund will increase its operating support and programmatic investments while also assuming a leadership role in helping school principals manage toward a vibrant future. The agreement takes effect immediately and will support the 2019/2020 school-year budget.

“Our Catholic schools are true beacons of hope; changing lives, developing engaged citizens and contributing to the common good of our great city,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago. “Through this historic agreement, the Archdiocese of Chicago and Big Shoulders Fund will strengthen our efforts to provide the lifelong benefits of Catholic education to Chicago- area children and society at large. I am very grateful to the Big Shoulders Fund and donors for their decades-long support of Archdiocesan schools and school families.”

Big Shoulders Fund will remain fully committed to its entire network of schools, to which they have provided nearly $400 million in scholarship funds and additional support over more than 30 years.

“For generations, these schools have prepared students for college, career, and life. Alumni go on to study, work, volunteer, and donate at rates higher than their peers,” said Josh Hale, President, and CEO of Big Shoulders Fund. “But, even more, this investment by our supporters is about strengthening neighborhoods that are enriched by these community-based organizations remaining places of hope and reasons to stay in the City.”

About the Archdiocese of Chicago

The Archdiocese of Chicago, the third-largest in the United States, serves more than 2.2 million Catholics in 316 parishes in Cook and Lake Counties, a geographic area of 1,411 square miles. The archdiocese, pastored by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, has more than 15,000 employees in its systems and ministries, including Catholic Charities, the region’s largest nonprofit social service agency. The archdiocese also has one of the country’s largest seminaries. The archdiocese’s 205 elementary and secondary schools comprise one of the largest U.S. private school systems. It has garnered more U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Awards than any system of any type. For more information on the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Catholic schools, visit schools.archchicago.org.

About Big Shoulders Fund

Big Shoulders Fund is an independent charitable organization that serves its network of 75 Chicago area schools, providing a quality, values-based education to nearly 20,000 children. In addition, as a result of a fully funded charitable donation, it has extended its programming to 20 schools in Northwest Indiana. Founded in 1986 by Chicago business and civic leaders, Big Shoulders Fund has raised nearly $400 million to date, creating wider access to a network of schools for underserved, low-income students and increasing the capacity of the schools through academic programs, scholarships and enrichment, leadership development, and operational strategy and improvements. The success of these investments is demonstrated by the fact that 94 percent of Big Shoulders Fund students graduate high school, 85 percent of graduating scholars enroll in college the year following high school, and alumni graduate from college at twice the national rate and, equally important, they are employed, volunteer, and donate at rates higher than their peers. Big Shoulders has earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest evaluator of nonprofit, for 12 consecutive years, a distinction held by less than one percent of nonprofit organizations nationally.

About the Schools

The schools included in this agreement, and the community area they serve, are:

  1. Academy of St. Benedict the African (West Englewood)
  2. Augustus Tolton Academy (Park Manor)
  3. Children of Peace School (Near West Side)
  4. Epiphany Catholic School (South Lawndale)
  5. Holy Angels School (Grand Boulevard)
  6. Leo Catholic High School (Auburn Gresham)
  7. Maternity BVM School (Humboldt Park)
  8. Most Blessed Trinity Academy (Waukegan)
  9. Our Lady of Grace School (Logan Square)
  10. Our Lady of Guadalupe School (South Chicago)
  11. Our Lady of Tepeyac Elementary School (South Lawndale)
  12. Our Lady of Tepeyac High School (South Lawndale)
  13. Pope John Paul II Catholic School (Brighton Park)
  14. Queen of the Universe School (West Lawn)
  15. St. Ailbe School (Calumet Heights)
  16. St. Angela School (Austin)
  17. St. Ann School (Lower West Side)
  18. St. Catherine of Siena/St. Lucy School (Austin / Oak Park)
  19. St. Ethelreda School (Auburn Gresham)
  20. St. Gall School (Gage Park)
  21. St. Genevieve School (Belmont Cragin)
  22. St. John de la Salle Catholic Academy (Roseland)
  23. St. Malachy School (Near West Side)
  24. St. Margaret of Scotland School (Washington Heights)
  25. St. Mary Star of The Sea School (West Lawn)
  26. St. Nicholas of Tolentine School (West Lawn)
  27. St. Philip Neri School (South Shore)
  28. St. Pius V School (Lower West Side)
  29. St. Sylvester School (Logan Square)
  30. Visitation Catholic School (Back of the Yards / Englewood)

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