The Big Cheese Reads

This program—created for Boston Partners in Education, the City of Boston’s leading organization training and deploying volunteer academic tutors in the Boston Public Schools—is the nation’s first “CEO-driven” academic mentoring program for middle school students.

Background and Objectives

  • Build the critical link between reading and career success.
  • Expand middle school students’ sense of career possibilities.
  • Expose all middle school students to at least one of the City’s corporate chieftains, as well as recruit volunteers from the corporate sector to serve as in-classroom academic tutors.
  • Raise visibility, as well as private sector funds, for this historically low-profile organization.

Program Elements

  • Corporate chieftains visit middle school classrooms to read to students and discuss those readings, as well as discuss the importance of reading to career success.
  • An annual gala, at which chieftains don Big Cheese ties and scarves, serves to showcase both the program and the organization to prospective sponsors and participants.
  • Funds are raised through a “CEO self-sponsorship” appeal, as well as through traditional gala fundraising.
  • CEO’s are recognized in a campaign-capping full-page ad in the City’s leading business journal.


  • Now in its 13th year, over 150 CEO’s participate as Big Cheeses.
  • The program grows to the point that it raises half of the organization’s annual budget.
  • In addition to raising almost $5 million, the program inspires numerous CEO’s to support the City’s middle schools with computers for classrooms, workplace tours, printing and other business services, and offers to pay college tuitions.
  • Over 700 corporate volunteers per year now participate as in-class academic tutors.
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