Frequently Asked Questions - Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the campaign?

  • The BNG campaign is part of a public-private partnership fundraising effort to renovate IMSA’s outdated science laboratories and to build our new innovation center – IN2 Steve and Jamie Chen Center for Innovation & Inquiry.

  • To launch IMSA’s next phase as a “learning laboratory” that innovates new approaches to STEM education and ignites and nurtures the next generation of innovators who will advance the human condition, great thought was put into the design of these new spaces that will foster our mission.

  • The science laboratories’ renovation project and IN2 will work in tandem to allow our students to build scientific know-how and explore ways to apply this knowledge to not only create new ideas that enhance people’s lives and generate economic opportunity for Illinois and the U.S., but to also provide the tools and resources needed to deliver and scale these solutions.

  • To date, all funding totaling $6.6 million has been secured for construction costs.  Just over $1 million in additional funding is being sought to furnish, equip and seed the operations of these spaces.  Nearly two-thirds of these additional funds have already been secured through the generosity of early BNG donors.

How do these new spaces improve teaching and learning at IMSA?

As we designed and now build these spaces, we intentionally focus on four themes that encourage student and teacher exploration and team collaboration.  These new spaces are the next phase in IMSA’s facilities master plan and demonstrate the direction IMSA is moving toward in advanced STEM teaching and learning.

  • Spaces where science, research and innovation are performed: Cutting-edge STEM education needs to take place in collaboration spaces, research laboratories and idea incubators where these skills are applied in the real world, not in classrooms modified to allow for these activities.

  • Focus on collaboration: Success in any work environment is more and more dependent on the ability to collaborate and integrate multiple disciplines and perspectives.  IMSA’s new education facilities will promote interdisciplinary team teaching, shared student projects and connection to expertise from the outside research, technology and business communities.

  • Enhanced capabilities enable new real world learning opportunities: New spaces and equipment will allow our students to learn through inquiry-based education and focus on critical global challenges like clean water, cancer research, and big data, and translate that knowledge into new prototypes and products.

  • A model for Illinois and U.S. education: IMSA was founded to spread excellence in mathematics and science education around the State and nation.  Our new science laboratories and IN2 spaces will allow us to experiment with many new educational approaches – some will fail but hopefully many will succeed.  That is  the beauty of how IMSA was set up with the freedom to investigate and to learn.  These physical spaces will also serve as a showpiece for schools and districts looking to upgrade their facilities and build Illinois’ 21 Century workforce.

What is the need?

  • All construction costs ($6.6 million) have successfully been raised through public and private funds ahead of the February 23, 2016 joint groundbreaking.  This funding includes generous support from the State of Illinois – A-wing laboratories, Tellabs Foundation – B-wing laboratories, and Steve and Jamie Chen and Tellabs Foundation – IN2 innovation center.

  • Just over $1 million in additional funding is needed to successfully open these spaces, starting August 2016.  We seek $550,000 for the renovated science laboratories’ equipment and $500,000 for IN2 furnishings, equipment and seed operation funding.

  • Leadership donors have stepped up before the public phase of the BNG campaign to raise nearly 2/3 of the needed $1 million.  We are now providing the opportunity for the whole community to contribute toward IMSA’s future.

  • In addition to these most immediate needs required to open our new spaces, IMSA plans to over time raise an IN2 endowment and also further develop and sustain our science labs.  Funds raised beyond the initial $1 million target will support these larger project fundraising goals.

Can I determine which project(s) I want to support?

Donors to the BNG campaign can designate their gifts as follows:

  • The greatest need between the two projects

  • 100% for the science laboratory renovation project

  • 100% for IN2 furniture, equipment and seed operations

  • A 50/50 split between the two projects

Will my gift really matter?

Your support is needed to open our new science laboratories and IN2 innovation center.  Gifts cover furnishings, equipment and other costs associated with helping to bring them to life. Your support makes a difference for two key reasons: 

  • First, gifts of any size count toward participation goals, which are key indicators to other funders and grantors of support for these projects and the Academy as whole. 

  • Second, investing in the science laboratories and IN2 helps move the Academy forward faster; many smaller gifts add up quickly to make a big impact.

Are there still major donor naming opportunities available?

  • Yes, IN2 has select opportunities to name furnishings (everything from a rapid prototyping cart to a ping pong table) and to join the Founding Major Donor Wall with a gift of $2,500 by 12-31-16.  Annual sponsorships are also available for rooms and programs.  Contact Britta McKenna at or call her at (630) 907-5934 to inquire.

  • The science laboratories also have a Founding Major Donor program; all gifts of $2,500 or more are included.  Contact Britta McKenna for more information.  

Why now?

  • We appreciate that raising money for capital projects when IMSA has not received its full operating budget may be counterintuitive.

  • We must plan for the future we want, Illinois needs and our students deserve.  For Illinois to grow its way out of its current budget deficit, innovation will need to play a vital role in economic growth and business competitiveness.  This starts with building the State’s 21 Century knowledge workforce.

  • The amount of funding sought, initially just over $1 million, is a small percentage of IMSA’s budget but is transformative in terms of how IMSA delivers education and develops new STEM teaching and learning models that will improve schools in Illinois and across the U.S. With nearly two-thirds of this funding already pledged we are confident the IMSA community shares our vision for the future.

  • IMSA’s science laboratories’ renovation is part of the Academy’s master facilities plan.  Funding for the A-wing laboratory project was approved by the State of Illinois in 2014.  If IMSA had considered pausing this work, it is unclear if and when the funding would be reapproved.  B-wing laboratory renovations are made possible through a specific grant from Tellabs Foundation.  These funds cannot be used for other purposes including IMSA’s operations.

  • IN2 stems from IMSA’s last strategic plan approved in 2008 as IMSA committed to create a STEM innovation center that would build a community around advanced STEM teaching and learning and entrepreneurship and help get ideas out of the classroom and into the world.  Again, the funds available for IN2 construction are specifically dedicated to this project and cannot be repurposed toward other Academy needs.