By Jim Williams

CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a lifeline – millions of dollars to Catholic schools in underserved communities.

As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported, the schools will be receiving a total of $47 milllion.

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One of the schools is St. Ethelreda, at 8734 S. Paulina St. in the Auburn Gresham community. The school is 90 years old, but faced an uncertain future because of enormous financial pressures.

But thanks to that funding from a Chicago charity, the school can breathe a little easier. So can dozens of other Catholic schools.

The doors were open Wednesday for Miss Harden’s pre-kindergarteners and for Mr. Luster’s eighth graders – as well as his championship chess team.

“This trophy was won for coming in first in the state of Illinois in the entire state of Illinois,” St. Ethelreda principal Dr. Denise Spells said as she pointed out one trophy among many on display.

And it appears certain St Ethelred, will celebrate its 100th anniversary a decade from now.

It is one of 30 Catholic schools set to be on the receiving end of the funding from the Big Shoulders Fund over 10 years.

Upon learning St. Ethelreda was on the list, Spells said her response was, “Yes, thank you Lord!”

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“They’re our neighbors. This is investing in our own future,” said Big Shoulders Fund chief executive officer Joshua Hale. “So this is good for all of us.”

With scores of Catholic schools closing in recent years, Dr. Spells has had a stressful job of maintaining high academic standards at St. Ethelreda, and raising money to stay open at a school where 85 percent of the students receive tuition assistance.

“You know how you’re sitting home and you’re trying to work from paycheck to paycheck?” Spells said. “This is that, on a grander scale.”

Student end the day at St. Ethelreda with prayers – which are now likely to be offered by future generations in the same building.

“I think this school is a staple in the community now, and to the parents, they know they can bring them – and not just because they’re safe, but because they know they will be nurtured and cared for,” Spells said. “We are their mothers and fathers away from home.”

The Big Shoulders Fund will offer management help as well.

Here is the list of all 30 schools receiving money:

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1. Academy of St. Benedict the African (West Englewood)
2. Augustus Tolton Academy (Park Manor)
3. Children of Peace School (Near West Side)
4. Epiphany Catholic School (South Lawndale)
5. Holy Angels School (Grand Boulevard)
6. Leo Catholic High School (Auburn Gresham)
7. Maternity BVM School (Humboldt Park)
8. Most Blessed Trinity Academy (Waukegan)
9. Our Lady of Grace School (Logan Square)
10. Our Lady of Guadalupe School (South Chicago)
11. Our Lady of Tepeyac Elementary School (South Lawndale)
12. Our Lady of Tepeyac High School (South Lawndale)
13. Pope John Paul II Catholic School (Brighton Park)
14. Queen of the Universe School (West Lawn)
15. St. Ailbe School (Calumet Heights)
16. St. Angela School (Austin)
17. St. Ann School (Lower West Side)
18. St. Catherine of Siena/St. Lucy School (Austin / Oak Park)
19. St. Ethelreda School (Auburn Gresham)
20. St. Gall School (Gage Park)
21. St. Genevieve School (Belmont Cragin)
22. St. John de la Salle Catholic Academy (Roseland)
23. St. Malachy School (Near West Side)
24. St. Margaret of Scotland School (Washington Heights)
25. St. Mary Star of The Sea School (West Lawn)
26. St. Nicholas of Tolentine School (West Lawn)
27. St. Philip Neri School (South Shore)
28. St. Pius V School (Lower West Side)
29. St. Sylvester School (Logan Square)
30. Visitation Catholic School (Back of the Yards / Englewood)