Catholic School Matters

March 22, 2021

Big Shoulders

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.

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Dr. Tim Uhl

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    The Last 5 Books:

    1. Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life (2017) by Makoto Fujimura
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    3. I Came as a Shadow: An Autobiography (2020) by John Thompson

    4. One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (2015) by Kevin M. Kruse

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            A couple of years ago I set out to write a book which would explore the challenges of Catholic school leadership. My premise that there are no easy answers and that we have to learn from our (and other's) mistakes in order to form a mindset appropriate for orchestrating conflict proved prescient as we all faced completely new and unexpected challenges in 2020. The book,Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic Leadership is now available on Amazon or on the Barnes & Noble site in print or e-book formats. The book explores issues in Catholic school leadership and the tensions between building community and following Church policies and introduces deliberate practice as a method for leadership formation.