Big Shoulders Fund

About Big Shoulders Fund
Mission

Big Shoulders Fund’s mission is to support inner-city schools, which provide a quality values- based education, thereby contributing to stronger communities.

Big Shoulders Fund is an independent charitable organization that serves a network of 72 Chicago area schools, providing a quality, values-based education to nearly 20,000 children. In 2019, as a result of a fully funded charitable donation, we extended our programming to 20 schools in Northwest Indiana, reaching an additional 6,000 children. Many of these students come from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. In Chicago, 80 percent of students represent minorities and nearly 70 percent live in low-income households. To date, Big Shoulders Fund has raised nearly $400 million, which goes directly towards supporting a variety of programs and operational needs including scholarship support, academic enrichment, special education programming, instructional equipment, facility improvement, faculty development, leadership development, and operating grants. Big Shoulders Fund is unique in that administrative expenses are supported by an endowment and other income, which ensures 100 percent of funds currently raised go toward programs that benefit Big Shoulders Fund schools and the students they serve. Annual investments of more than $30 million ensure that students receive a strong academic foundation in elementary school, go on to enroll in quality college prep high schools, attend and stay in college, and lead productive lives as adults.

What would a $1,000 contribution to your program / organization provide?

A $1,000 contribution may yield a partial scholarship for a student, provide project-based and student-centered learning activities, or allow a teacher or administrator to participate in professional development and leadership training.

Impact Documentation

Big Shoulders Fund publishes an annual report that highlights the impact of our work, including the success of our scholarship and academic programs. It also sheds light on some of the rising leaders in our network, along with key supporters, whose contributions are essential in making a difference in the lives of Chicago students and families. Big Shoulders Fund’s board members, principals, teachers, staff and leadership are highlighted in the report for their dedication to the organization and the schools and students they serve. The production of the Big Shoulders Fund Year-End Review is all donated in-kind by industry supporters. Our annual reports can be viewed here.

Big Shoulders Fund also publishes a bi-annual newsletter called Shoulder to Shoulder, which includes updates and information on Big Shoulders Fund programming, news and other major updates and initiatives from the organization.

Impact Results

Big Shoulders Fund provides critical support and assistance to a network of 92 schools that serve more than 26,000 students across Chicago and Northwest Indiana to ensure they remain strong community-based anchors in underserved neighborhoods.

As mentioned earlier, measurable outcomes of Big Shoulders Fund’s investments include a 94 percent high school graduation rate, with 85 percent of graduating scholars enrolling in college the year following high school, and alumni that graduate from college at twice the national rate. Furthermore, African American and Latino alumni graduate from college at nearly 3x and 4x the national average, respectively. Equally important, alumni are employed, volunteer, and donate at rates higher than their peers.

Organization's champions, leaders and key supporters

Big Shoulders Fund is supported by a committed philanthropic community comprised of business and civic leaders that believe in the potential of our organization and the students we serve. In addition to financial resources, they lend their time, expertise, and resources to help teach and develop the next generation of talent and leadership in our city.

Big Shoulders Fund was founded 34 years ago and is championed by three Co-Chairmen – James O’Connor, John Canning, and Monsignor Kenneth Velo. We are also guided by a robust Board of Directors, and supported by a Chairmen’s Advisory Council and Auxiliary Board of young professionals, as well as a recently founded Teen Board, which together comprise the “Next Generation” of leaders who will guide the Big Shoulders Fund into the future. The Chairmen’s Advisory Council and the Auxiliary Board work to grow the base of support for Big Shoulders Fund and increase the connection and involvement of future Big Shoulders Fund Board members, while the Auxiliary Board serves Big Shoulders Fund’s students and schools through volunteering, fundraising, and spreading the word about our mission.

Other outcomes

Big Shoulders Fund provides critical support and assistance to a network of 92 schools that serve more than 26,000 students across Chicago and Northwest Indiana to ensure they remain strong community-based anchors in underserved neighborhoods. As mentioned earlier, measurable outcomes of Big Shoulders Fund’s investments include a 94 percent high school graduation rate, with 85 percent of graduating scholars enrolling in college the year following high school, and alumni that graduate from college at twice the national rate. Furthermore, African American and Latino alumni graduate from college at nearly 3x and 4x the national average, respectively. Equally important, alumni are employed, volunteer, and donate at rates higher than their peers.

Big Shoulders Fund Stats
Where we serve
Chicagoland
Number of Full Time Employees
31
Year Established
1986
501(c)3 Tax Exempt?
Yes
People Served Last Year
26,000
Philanthropy Award Semifinalist in
2021
Contact Big Shoulders Fund
212 W Van Buren Street, Suite 900 , Chicago, IL 60607