A former student successfully led fundraising efforts and raised over $400,000 needed to save a private school in Ingleside, which was days away from a closure deadline.
The Archdiocese of Chicago in December gave St. Bede School a deadline of January 26 to come up with $400,000 or else it would be closed next school year, which starts in August.
The school’s finances were impacted after the Invest in Kids scholarship program was recently ended by Illinois lawmakers.
St. Bede School has 182 students enrolled ranging from pre-school to eighth grade. The students are residents from throughout Lake and McHenry counties.
The school was opened in 1958. In 2007, the original building was torn down and replaced.
St. Bede alumni Susan Lutzke, a senior at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, created a GoFundMe account after learning the school was at risk of closing.
Just 32 days later, Lutzke’s fundraiser reached the $400,000 goal needed to save the school. The account has raised $431,000 as of Monday and additional money was also raised through other fundraising efforts.
“I am thankful to all that made it possible to keep the school open. The lesson I learned over the past few weeks is that it is still possible to make a difference if you just take a chance… through these efforts, I have heard such wonderful stories of St. Bede’s impact on so many,” Lutzke said.
“I was most inspired by the fact that people were so willing to help, even from surrounding communities ranging from local schools, restaurants, and businesses; words can’t express my gratitude,” Lutzke said.
The funds will be used to cover the operating deficit for the 2023-2024 school year and the estimated deficit for the next school year.
Reverend George Koeune, pastor of Our Lake of the Lakes Parish, informed parishioners and school families on Friday that the Chicago Archdiocese’s Cardinal Blase Cupich accepted his recommendation to keep the school open.
St. Bede School announced Monday that the efforts to save the school will continue with the creation of a long-term sustainability plan that includes welcoming new students and opening enrollment at the January Open House.
“We are grateful for the joyous news, a testament to the efforts made by so many. We received contributions and support from those near and far: school families, alumni, parishioners, community businesses, strangers responding to our call after hearing the news reports and surrounding Catholic schools who ran fundraisers in an effort to help us succeed,” said Lynne Strutzel, co-principal of St. Bede School.
“We welcome families and members of the community to visit us during the Open House this coming Sunday as a way to learn more about our school,” Strutzel said.
Irma Torrez, a parent of a current student as well as a recent graduate, said St. Bede School is a “second home and a family to us.”
“My children feel safe here, knowing that every single person here cares for each other so much. The news that the school will remain open is a huge relief for us, and we are so grateful,” Torrez said.