Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana Demonstrates its Impact at Third Annual Lend a Shoulder Day

Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana Demonstrates its Impact at Third Annual Lend a Shoulder Day

The nonprofit organization has helped grow enrollment at its schools by another 6%, marking a third consecutive year of growth

Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana, a charitable organization providing long-term academic and operational support to Northwest Indiana schools with demonstrated need, announced a 6% increase in year over year school enrollment at its third annual Lend a Shoulder Day event. For the third consecutive year, the charitable organization has helped boost enrollment at its network of 19 Northwest Indiana schools, welcoming more than 1,147 new students since the 2019-2020 school year.

“We are thrilled by the continued growth in enrollment, but we are even more elated about the collective effort from the community, educators, and stakeholders to rally behind the cause to provide families access to values-based education,” said Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana Managing Director Dan Kozlowski. “It was an honor to announce this achievement at our annual Lend a Shoulder Day. There’s not a more appropriate time or place to make this announcement than an event dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the impact of Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana.”

While enrollment is up overall across the organization’s 19 schools, six schools achieved their highest enrollment figures in a decade. Bishop Noll Institute, St. Mary Catholic Community School, St. Thomas More School, St. John the Evangelist School, Notre Dame Catholic School, and Aquinas Catholic Community School led the school network in enrollment increases. Additionally, five schools experienced a growth rate of 10% or higher, including St. John Bosco Catholic School (17%), Bishop Noll Institute (11%), Notre Dame Catholic School (13%), St. John the Evangelist School (10%), and St. Paul School (11%). Overall, the network of schools has seen persistent growth marked by a 19% enrollment increase over the last three years, bringing in more than 1,100 new students.

“Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana has been an invaluable support system for Queen of All Saints,” said Kim Gondeck, Principal at Queen of All Saints Catholic School. “The support they’ve provided to us has been a huge help in boosting our enrollment numbers, and whenever a new need arises, it’s incredible how quickly they are there to step in and help. We’re excited to participate in Lend a Shoulder Day to show the wonderful impact the organization has had on our school community.”

Lend a Shoulder Day is an annual event that provides businesses, civic leaders, and supporters with an immersive experience at Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana schools to see firsthand the impact the nonprofit makes on school communities. The event engages participants in hands-on classroom activities and interactions with students to see, experience, and hear the positive outcomes Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana creates for nearly 6,000 students in Northwest Indiana. The annual event is a celebration of the dedication and culmination of work from students, teachers, school leaders, and community activists to support the Northwest Indiana Region’s students.

Big Shoulders Fund originated in Chicago in 1986 and serves 20,000 students across 72 schools in the Chicago region. Inspired by a fully-funded and restricted gift from the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation, Big Shoulders Fund expanded to Northwest Indiana in 2019 to serve nearly 6,000 students across 19 schools in Northwest Indiana. The nonprofit is delivering its unique approach to enhance the capacity of school communities and support students and families in Northwest Indiana, focusing on areas with the greatest need.

“Since we joined the Northwest Indiana community in 2019, they have wholeheartedly embraced Big Shoulders Fund, and we are deeply grateful for this warm welcome and spirit of collaboration,” said President and CEO at Big Shoulders Fund Josh Hale. “On the strength of our dedicated educators and community partners, we have accomplished so much together in such a short amount of time. I get excited when I think about the future impact we will continue to deliver to support the Northwest Indiana community.”

About Big Shoulders Fund

Inspired by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Big Shoulders Fund was founded by a group of business and civic leaders in 1986, raising more than $600 million to date, to create wider access to a network of schools for low-income students. For more than 37 years, Big Shoulders Fund has helped Chicago’s children in need achieve their dreams through access to a quality, values-based education. In 2019 a generous gift from Bruce White and his wife Beth created the extension of the organization’s programming to Northwest Indiana. Big Shoulders Fund accomplishes this by investing more than $40 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 16 consecutive years, a distinction held by less than one percent of nonprofit organizations nationally. For more information, visit