Family trying to raise $400K in matter of weeks to save St. Bede Catholic School

Jasmine Minor Image
Wednesday, January 3, 2024
Family trying to raise $400K in just weeks to save suburban school
St. Bede School in Ingleside, Illinois will soon close unless it raises $400K in a matter of weeks. One family wants to try.

INGLESIDE, Ill. (WLS) -- An Ingleside school is on the brink of closing if it doesn't raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in a matter of weeks.

One family has made it their mission to keep the doors open.

Susan Lutzke and her mom have just 24 days to raise $400,000 in order to keep St. Bede School from closing for good.

Lutzke said St. Bede is a home away from home. Her little brother's seventh grade locker, covered in pictures of his best friend, is a reminder of that home, where she spent 11 years.

"More than half my life," Lutzke said.

Just three weeks ago, the now high school senior and her family found out the school was on the cusp of closing due to financial costs.

"It was a rough night. It was a lot of tears, just a lot of emotions," Lutzke said.

The next morning, she said she made a GoFundMe page, and didn't tell a soul.

The page was shared so many times that it now has raised over $200,000. But they need more, and quickly.

"Jan. 26 is our deadline," mother Tina Lutzke said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Office of Catholic Schools said, "When Illinois lawmakers decided to end the Invest in Kids scholarship program, they jeopardized many schools throughout the state, including St. Bede. These schools must now try to replace those scholarship funds, which will be difficult."

A former student herself and now the school athletic director, Tina Lutzke said the bonds of friendship she made there are still strong nearly 30 years later. She said that is the kind of community the roughly 200 current students are at risk of losing.

"You can see all their work here. This is a home for them and everyone. It's a place where you can walk down, and everyone knows their name," she said.

It's a home Susan Lutzke said she doesn't want her little brother to lose.

"Even if things go wrong, and what we want to happen doesn't happen, it's going to be OK. We'll figure it out. And he's still going to have a wonderful eighth-grade experience," she said.

But the teen isn't going down without a fight.

"It's worth saving, and it's worth fighting for," she said.