Frequently Asked Questions

What is Chicagoland Lutheran Educational Foundation (CLEF)?

CLEF was formed in 1993 by 16 business leaders who wanted to ensure children in Chicago continued to have access to Lutheran values-based education. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, CLEF’s mission is to empower urban Lutheran schools to deliver innovative, quality education in a Christian environment. Learn more about us.

How does CLEF support schools?

As a Christian education foundation, we provide funding to Lutheran schools in Chicago and offer a range of programs that augment school services. We also support students with our scholarship programs.

How can I get involved with CLEF?

Whether you’re a parent, a neighbor, a business owner, or a member of the community, you can help CLEF accomplish its mission. CLEF offers a variety of ways to get involved – with the foundation as well as with the schools we support. Find out how!

What kinds of schools does CLEF support?

CLEF supports Lutheran schools of all denominations, from preschool through high school, with a focus on schools that serve Chicago residents.

Do I need to be Lutheran to attend a Lutheran school?

No! In fact, the majority of CLEF students are not practicing Lutherans. All are welcome to come learn and grow in a nurturing Christian environment.

What does it cost to attend a private Lutheran school?

Within the CLEF community, cost varies by school. Learn more about educational financing by contacting a school near you or visiting our scholarships page.

What kind of financial aid is available?

Families who qualify can request financial assistance to send their children to Chicagoland Christian schools. Tuition assistance, sometimes up to 100 percent, may be available and varies by school. Learn about scholarship opportunities.

How can I find a Lutheran school near me? CLEF-supported schools serve students from every neighborhood in Chicago. Use our search tool to find a school near you.

How does CLEF put donations to work?

Funds directed by CLEF support our network schools in a multitude of ways, both easy to see and behind the scenes. The CLEF Grants Committee carefully evaluates the needs of schools and designates the use of funds.

Does CLEF have a scholarship fund?

Yes. CLEF awards almost a million dollars of scholarship aid on an annual basis. There is a great, ongoing need for the financial assistance we provide to help children attend Chicagoland Lutheran schools. Please consider contributing to CLEF’s scholarship fund.

What is a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO)?

SGOs have been established to manage charitable gifts made through the Invest in Kids Act of Illinois. Invest in Kids Act donations must be made through qualified SGOs to receive the 75 percent tax credit available under the act.

What percentage of my gift is applied to the actual needs of a child or school?

One hundred percent of every dollar you give goes to benefit the experience of children in our schools. Board members of the Chicagoland Lutheran Educational Foundation underwrite all of the foundation’s operational expenses.

How is accountability ensured?

The CLEF Grants Committee closely monitors all use of funds and requires detailed documentation from school administrators and boards.

Are gifts to CLEF tax deductible?

CLEF is a 501(c)(3) educational foundation. Gifts are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. All gifts are acknowledged in writing with a receipt for tax purposes. Contact your financial advisor for details on tax deductibility.

Does CLEF provide grants to Lutheran schools outside of Chicago?

CLEF is currently focused on supporting Lutheran schools in the city of Chicago. Walther Christian Academy, in Melrose Park, is the only school in our network located outside city limits. The school falls under our mission due to the large percentage of students in western Chicago that it serves.

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