Foundation commits $150M to Big Shoulders Fund • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine
Catholic Diocese of Gary

Foundation commits $150M to Big Shoulders Fund

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The Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation is making a historic 10-year commitment to the Big Shoulders Fund. The $150 million donation will benefit schools in the Catholic Diocese of Gary over the next decade.

The funds will be invested in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education, including the Indiana Choice Scholarship. The goal is to help all students gain college and career success.

“We know that access to high-quality, values-based education is as important as anything we can support, and our efforts would not be complete without a deep commitment to the Catholic schools that have been a critical part of the fabric of Northwest Indiana for decades,” said Bill Hanna, executive director of the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation, in a press release. “Big Shoulders Fund and the Diocese of Gary have developed an effective partnership over the last five years that led us to this moment.”

Beth White, foundation trustee and wife of the late Bruce White, said that high-quality education is the great equalizer “paramount to making the world a better place.”

“With Big Shoulders we have been working together to make a meaningful impact in Chicago and Northwest Indiana,” she said. “Our partners are now poised to do even more in the place we consider home. As we move forward, it is the educational achievement and fulfillment of dreams of every student who walks through the doors of a Big Shoulders school that will truly define the success of this initiative.”

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb was on hand for the announcement June 12 at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Cedar Lake.

“Receiving a great education is the surest long-term way to lift up society one student at a time,” Holcomb said. “I am so encouraged by this vote of confidence in Indiana education and am beyond thankful for this life-changing investment.

“This remarkable donation from the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation will help change the course for communities through the dedication and hard work of Big Shoulders Fund with the Catholic Diocese of Gary and, more broadly, throughout the Region.”

Josh Hale, CEO of Big Shoulders Fund, said the donation will open doors for students, teachers and support personnel. It also will provided opportunities to enhance the curriculum, offer professional development and provide student support services.

“I’m in awe of the support from the community and the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation,” Hale said. “Leveraging the network, we’ll build upon the great relationship we have with the Diocese of Gary to drive a high-quality, data-driven education model that delivers strong student outcomes.”

The Diocese of Gary also is starting a new nonprofit, the Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana, which will be established by the end of the year. Endowment funds, which are expected to grow to $50 million over the next 15 years, will be used to help pay staff in the schools.

The Diocese provides education to 5,982 students at 20 schools in Lake, Porter, La Porte and Starke counties. It has 58 parishes, two missions and a Catholic student center.

The Big Shoulders Fund was founded in 1986 to help low-income communities provide quality educational opportunities. It has raised more than $650 million since its inception.

The Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation which is based in Merrillville, focuses on health and wellness, education, public safety and community development.

Caption: The Catholic Diocese of Gary will use funds from the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation to provide educational opportunities for all students. (Provided by Catholic Diocese of Gary)

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