Better Business Bureau Report for
Big Shoulders Fund

Better Business Bureau Report issued July 2016
Better Business Bureau Report expires July 2018

Does not meet one or more standards
This charity does not meet one or more of the 20 standards for Charity Accountability. Find out more...

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Charity Contact Information

Name: Big Shoulders Fund
Address: 212 West Van Buren
  Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: 312-751-8337
Web Address:
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Better Business Bureau Comments

Year, State Incorporated: 1986, Illinois
Affiliates: None
Stated Purpose: The Fund is organized for the purpose of developing, managing, and distributing funds for the educational system of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Such funds may be applied for the following purposes as well as for programs and activities that enhance these purposes: (1) Direct financial assistance of schools which do not have the capability of self-support from their own educational activities. (2) Scholarships on a need basis for students unable to provide direct payment for their education. (3) Direct financial assistance to special education programs with particular reference to educational programs for the handicapped, remedial programs, pre-primary educational readiness programs, and programs for the development of bi-lingual educational needs. (4) Direct financial assistance for capital assistance both in new construction and in renovation of existing facilities in order to provide effective facilities in which the educational system can perform its work. (5) Direct financial assistance for enhancement of educational compensation in order to provide equitable salary and benefit conditions. (6) Direct financial assistance for the acquisition of instructional equipment and materials. (7) Direct financial assistance for teachers and school administrators toward professional improvement, including but not limited to in-service training, educational grants, and study sabbaticals. (8) Direct financial assistance for educational research and planning both in terms of facilities needs and educational programs. (9) Endowment for the specific and restricted purpose of long-term educational funding.

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Evaluation Conclusions


Big Shoulders Fund does not meet the following 2 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Standard 17: Web Site Disclosures - Include on any charity websites that solicit contributions, the same information that is recommended for annual reports, as well as the mailing address of the charity and electronic access to its most recent IRS Form 990.

Big Shoulders Fund does not meet this Standard because the organization's website,, does not include all of the recommended information for those charity websites that solicit for donations. Specifically, it does not include:

  • Electronic access to the organization’s most recent IRS Form 990.

Standard 18: Privacy for Written Appeals & Internet Privacy - Address privacy concerns of donors by (a) providing in written appeals, at least annually, a means (e.g., such as a check off box) for both new and continuing donors to inform the charity if they do not want their name and address shared outside the organization, (b) providing a clear, prominent and easily accessible privacy policy on any of its websites that tells visitors (i) what information, if any, is being collected about them by the charity and how this information will be used, (ii) how to contact the charity to review personal information collected and request corrections, (iii) how to inform the charity (e.g., a check off box) that the visitor does not wish his/her personal information to be shared outside the organization, and (iv) what security measures the charity has in place to protect personal information.

Big Shoulders Fund does not meet this Standard because:

Big Shoulders Fund does not meet this Standard because the privacy policy on this website, does not indicate:

  • What personal information is being collected and how it will be used.
  • How to contact the charity to review personal information that is collected and request corrections.
  • How to inform the charity that the visitor does not want his/her information shared with others.
  • What security measures are in place to protect personal information that is collected.
In addition, the BBB of Chicago & Northern Illinois requested but did not receive complete information on the organization’s effectiveness measures and is unable to verify the organization's compliance with the following Standard for Charity Accountability: 6.
Big Shoulders Fund meets the remaining 17 Standards for Charity Accountability.
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Big Shoulders Fund is committed to supporting inner-city Catholic schools to provide children with the highest quality education to drive their academic and personal development. Big Shoulders investments are focused on four major areas – scholarships and enrichment, operational improvements, leadership development, and academic programs – to ensure the stability and strength of both schools and whole communities, and prepare students for life-long success. The goals of the Big Shoulders Scholarship Program are to reduce barriers to quality education for students and families, and to reduce attrition for schools. As the largest scholarship provider in Chicago, Big Shoulders provides both multi-year renewable financial awards and one-time emergency funds for families who have experienced personal and/or financial hardship. Developing and supporting effective school leaders is also critical to our mission. The Big Shoulders Leadership Development Program offers ongoing professional development and access to a community of practitioners. It also supports teachers as they progress through the administrator licensing process. Finally, while leadership development is a crucial component of a holistic strategy to provide the highest quality education, school administrators and teachers are only fully empowered to improve academic performance when they can offer students additional enrichment and supports. Investments in academic programs for educators are designed to support strong instruction, rigorous curriculum, and increase the growth of students of all backgrounds and achievement levels.

For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2016, Big Shoulders Fund's program expenses were:

Program 17,604,893
Total Program Expenses: $17,604,893
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Chief Executive : Joshua C. Hale, President and Chief Executive Officer

Chair of the Board: James J. O'Connor
Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: Retired Chairman & CEO, Unicom & Commonwealth Edison Co.

Co-Chair of the Board : John A. Canning, Jr.

Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: Madison Dearborn Partners, Inc.

Co-Chair of the Board : Monsignor Kenneth J. Velo

Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: DePaul University

Board Size: 33

Paid Staff Size: 24

*Compensation includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances.
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Fund Raising


Method(s) Used:

direct mail, invitations to fund raising events, grant proposals, internet, planned giving arrangements, cause-related marketing
Fund raising costs were 5% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $16,253,798, are donations received as a result of fund raising activities.)
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Tax Status


This organization is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.
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The following information is based on Big Shoulders Fund's audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2016.

Source of Funds  
Support/Event Revenue 16,253,798
Endowment Earnings 1,856,491
Net Investment Return 690,245
Other Income 2,200
Total Income $18,802,734


Uses of Funds as a % of Total Expenses

Programs: 90%  Fund Raising: 4%  Administrative: 6% 

Total income $18,802,734
Program expenses $17,604,893
Fund raising expenses 771,215
Administrative expenses 1,072,355
Total expenses $19,448,463
Expenses in Excess of Income (645,729)
Beginning net assets 65,940,098
Other Changes in Net Assets 3,074,697
Ending net assets 65,294,369
Total liabilities 6,784,180
Total assets $72,078,549

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An organization may change its practices at any time without notice. A copy of this report has been shared with the organization prior to publication. It is not intended to recommend or deprecate, and is furnished solely to assist you in exercising your own judgment. If the report is about a charity and states the charity meets or does not meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, it reflects the results of an evaluation of information and materials provided voluntarily by the charity. The name Better Business Bureau is a registered service mark of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.

This report is not to be used for fund raising or promotional purposes.

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