Josh Hale, the President/CEO of the Big Shoulders Fund, joins me on the Catholic School Matters podcast this week to discuss the great work of the organization supporting Chicago Catholic schools.  The Big Shoulders has raised over $450 million for Catholic schools, giving away approximately $30 million per year. The conversation and our look at Big Shoulders builds on last week’s focus on the new research project on urban Catholic schools.

With so many dioceses strapped for cash, organizations like Big Shoulders have picked up the slack and have provided a model for so many other school foundations. Certainly their efforts have been successful in providing a way for people to give money and support Catholic schools. Their work began with scholarships to needy students, expanded to school aid, and has now spread to innovative programs.

It’s interesting to note that Big Shoulders has begun to get involved in school governance and has pledged money if they have a voice in selecting the school leaders.  This has involved a new paradigm for urban Catholic elementary schools as the Archdiocese of Chicago has developed more clusters of parishes & schools and has moved away from the one pastor-one parish-one Catholic school model.  More information here.

Why is this so important?  If we want to be a mission-driven school system whose purpose is to serve the world (not just serve those who can afford our tuition) we need to look at innovations which strengthen our mission.  Governance is a great place to start.

Come for the talk on governance and fund-raising, stay for conversation about Wyoming summer camps and replacing windows.

Here’s background on Big Shoulders, here’s an article announcing their efforts to bridge the digital divide, and another their expansion to Gary, Indiana, and another recent announcement. I referenced this Crux article on co-responsibility as well as the Boston College/NCEA research study.

Top 5:

The above post originally appeared in the Mar 22nd Catholic School Matters newsletter

This is going to be my last Montana-produced Catholic School Matters.  I report to my new post in Buffalo in four weeks and so the rush to get prepared and wrap up all things Montana should keep me occupied. I hope to resume blogging and podcasting later this spring.  I’ll be adjusting my address list so if you want to ensure that you keep receiving this, make sure to hit “subscribe” or “follow” when you open the newsletter.  Or simply email me at

The Top 5:

  1. In the American Catholic News section, Fr. Dan Horan does a great job raising the issue of “returning to normal” in his NCR article. Why do we keep pretending that everything is going to be the same? After all, aren’t there some things that we want to change?
  • The next article is a press release from NCEA announcing Lincoln Snyder as the new President/CEO. Great choice! I’m happy that we have a bilingual Polish/English CEO.  That will definitely come in handy.
  • In the Leadership section, Farnam Street gives you an opportunity to geek out on leadership and decision theory in the post on the OODA Loop & Fighter Pilots.
  • In the Miscellany section, Tom Barrett presents a fascinating article on the spaces we need to innovate. I often hear people talk about their desire for innovation but I read very few articles delving into how we create environments ripe for innovation.
  • Last week, Dick Hoyt passed away. He was the marathoner/Ironman who used to compete with his son.  It’s a remarkably inspiring story and I included a short video to give you a taste. Make sure there is Kleenex nearby.  RIP Dick Hoyt.