Making a Chicago Difference: Illinois Tech Receives $8 Million Anonymous Gift to Support Scholarships

Illinois Institute of Technology has received an extraordinarily generous $8 million gift from an anonymous donor to support its ambitious Power the Difference campaign. The substantial contribution will be allocated toward Illinois Tech’s The Chicago Difference initiative and for the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering to help significantly enhance the university’s capacity to foster academic excellence and community transformation.

The Chicago Difference, a key beneficiary of this gift, is a pioneering program designed to empower young people from underrepresented communities in Chicago by providing wrap-around support to students along their entire journey, from pre-college to career placement assistance. The donation will help enhance student scholarships and bolster initiatives like the Empowerment, Leadership, and Mentorship (ELM) Program, which allows students to support each other in an organically grown mentor network, and the Elevate Promise Program, which helps connect students with hands-on learning opportunities. The gift also establishes a student emergency fund for The Chicago Difference to provide rapid financial assistance to students in urgent need.

“Since Illinois Tech’s founding in 1890, it has been built on a foundation of providing opportunities for all,” said Michael P. Galvin (LAW ’78), chair of the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees. “Then as now, the university is dedicated to offering a high-quality tech-focused education to all Chicagoans, regardless of income or background. We are immensely grateful for this gift, which will help us to fulfill that promise.”

Deeply committed to education and philanthropy, the anonymous donor is hopeful that this gift will serve as a beacon of hope and a guiding light for Illinois Tech’s mission.

“Illinois Tech is dedicated to advancing innovation and technology for all, and this gift will further fuel our noble mission as an engine of opportunity,” said Raj Echambadi, president of Illinois Tech. “We are grateful for this visionary investment in our next generation of innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs here in Chicago and across the nation.”

“This incredibly generous gift provides an opportunity for the university to continue building upon its founding purpose in a very special way,” said Beth Campbell, interim vice president for advancement. “The Power the Difference campaign aims to strengthen how our students live, study, participate, work, create, and innovate together. It is inspiring to know that our community not only recognizes that we must invest in education today in order to transform the world of tomorrow, but is also excited to rally around this important cause.”

Thanks to the gift, the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering will receive funding for student and post-doctoral fellowships, as well as procurement of state-of-the-art research equipment and software. This will ensure that Illinois Tech continues to be at the forefront of innovation in engineering education.

“This extraordinary gift will strengthen our ability to provide students with an excellent education in chemical and biological engineering,” said Kevin Cassel, interim dean of Armour College of Engineering. “I’m deeply thankful for the donation and excited for the students who will benefit.”

This $8 million gift is an important milestone in Illinois Tech’s ongoing journey to redefine the landscape of tech-focused education and community engagement. Not only will this gift enhance Illinois Tech’s research and educational capabilities, but it will also deepen our commitment to inclusivity and empowerment of our community: It’s an investment for a brighter and more equitable future, fueling the next generation of inclusive innovation and diverse leadership in Chicago and beyond.