White Lodging founder gives $16M boost to Catholic schools

A hotel entrepreneur is donating $16 million to Catholic schools in northwestern Indiana.

The gift from White Lodging founder and CEO Bruce White and his wife, Beth, aims to boost access to technology, curriculum support and financial aid through a new community partner.

The Big Shoulders Fund in Chicago will provide support to help make those efforts possible in northern Lake County’s Catholic schools, aiming to first serve families in Gary, Hammond, East Chicago, Munster, Merrillville, Griffith, Highland and Whiting, The Times reported.

The Bruce and Beth White Family Foundation’s gift is expected to bring operational and academic support directly to 10 elementary and high schools in the Diocese of Gary, benefiting about 3,300 students.

Founded in 1986, Big Shoulders works with more than 75 Chicago schools serving about 20,000 children. Eighty percent are minorities and 66 percent live in poverty. The group said its schools have a 94% graduation rate, compared with an Illinois state average of 85 percent.

Bruce White is the son of Dean White, the billionaire founder of Whiteco Advertising, who died in 2016 with a net worth of about $2.5 billion.

White Lodging owns or operates dozens of hotels, including at least seven in the Indianapolis area.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: IBJ is now using a new comment system. Your Disqus account will no longer work on the IBJ site. Instead, you can leave a comment on stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Past comments are not currently showing up on stories, but they will be added in the coming weeks. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

6 thoughts on “White Lodging founder gives $16M boost to Catholic schools

  1. No wonder our Catholic Bishops are complicit in the downfall of civil society. The Bishop of Gary should tell them to payoff the taxpayers of Indy for the crony JW Marriott before accepting these dollars.

    1. Eric M’s comment reminds me that the online comment section of publications is akin to the Jerry Springer show…….

  2. Chad, I will use my full-name, Eric Morris. I am a faithful member of St. Elizabeth Seton in Carmel, Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, and I stand by my Jerry Springer comment. Unfortunately, the Bishops sort-of preach religious freedom while practicing their hands out to the government. I’m sure the Whites have good intent with this donation, but a properly taught faithful should know better that TIFs, tax abatements, and PPPs undermine civil society. I could go on, but the producer is telling me we need to go to commercial.

    1. I do not support White Lodging getting tax breaks, or any private business for that matter. However, if non-profit organizations, religious or otherwise, now have a moral imperative to refuse donations from those who have benefited from public tax breaks, then most of them will soon be shutting their doors and ceasing to offer public services. Take the money, I say, it is at least a start in paying back society what they owe.

  3. Remember that White Lodging took close to $60 Million in tax dollars to build the J.W. Marriott complex. Sixteen million seems like a small amount to ease Mr. White’s conscience.
    Seems like plan to re-ingratiate himself to the city of Indianapolis so he and Mike Wells can once again coming begging for city tax dollars.

  4. Christopher B, that’s the Ron Paul theory on accepting campaign donations from disreputable people. My view is I wish the Bishops would spend as much time on local political issues like cronyism (preach and teach Subsidiarity) as they do on fighting those horrible loan sharks and penning letters about the federal death penalty.