Bruce and Beth White Family Foundation Helps Expand Big Shoulders Fund

Expanded Footprint Ensures Access and Academic Opportunity for Thousands of Families in Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago Big Shoulders, an independent charitable organization that provides support and assistance to elementary…

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

Big Shoulders, an independent charitable organization that provides support and assistance to elementary schools and high schools that primarily serve students from low-income backgrounds, today announced a generous new gift from Bruce White, founder and chairman of Merrillville, Indiana-based White Lodging, and his wife Beth. The gift from the Bruce and Beth White Family Foundation 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 in 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 next course of 10 years. Initially, this investment 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 impact 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 Jose Hale, president and CEO of Big Shoulder 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.”

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 school 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 Foundation 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!”

About Big Shoulders Fund

Big Shoulders Fund is an independent charitable organization that serves its network of 75 schools, providing a quality, values-based education to nearly 20,000 Chicago children. Founded in 1986 by Chicago business and civic leaders, Big Shoulders Fund has raised more than $350 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 rate 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.

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White Lodging, established in 1985, is one of the leading ownership, development, and management companies in America. An innovative trendsetter, the organization’s portfolio includes convention, urban lifestyle, and suburban select hotels with more than $1 billion in managed revenue. White Lodging operates more than 90-premium hotels, 30 restaurants and 30 brands in 20 states. Success knows no boundaries at White Lodging, where associates and leadership have consistently earned superior guest satisfaction scores, top market share and industry-leading profit margins while recruiting the best, brightest, and most passionate professionals in every discipline for three decades. White Lodging is a proud winner of the 2018 & 2019 Gallup Great Workplace Award.