Historic $150M investment announced for Catholic schools in northwest Indiana

A major education investment for Catholic schools in northwest Indiana was announced on Wednesday.

The $150 million, which will help support the Diocese of Gary Catholic School system, is coming through the nonprofit Big Shoulders Fund and was donated by the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation.

The funds will be used in a number of ways.

"The $150 million investment will focus primarily on serving students and communities with the greatest amount of economic and educational need in Northwest Indiana, regardless of race and ethnicity, sex, religious affiliation, or financial ability. With a focus on outcomes, the investment will support initiatives that focus on curriculum development, teacher training, leadership development, infrastructure improvements, and student support services, as well as new governance models, management structures, and assistance with enrollment and tuition management," Dan Kowalski, managing supervisor for Hawthorne Strategy Group Inc., said in an email to FOX 32 Chicago.

Additionally, a $50 million endowment fund that was also announced will aim to "grow exponentially up to $50 million over the next 15 years and be used to supplement the compensation of principals, teachers, and staff within the Diocese of Gary Catholic schools," Kowalski said.

The school system says the money will also help them remain viable by making the educational opportunities more attractive to prospective families looking to give their children the best possible opportunity.

A number of leaders spoke Wednesday about the impact of the funds.

"We know that access to high-quality, values-based education is as important as anything that 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 many, many decades. The Diocese of Gary has built a great base of K-12 education across the region, serving more than 6,000 of our students and rapidly growing," said Bill Hanna, Ed, Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation.

The Diocese says with the money they will also look into new curriculum enhancements and growth opportunities at their schools.