New Neal Math and Science Academy opens

  • Eighth-grader Jaelah Edwards Turner spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony for Neal Math and Science Academy in North Chicago.

    Eighth-grader Jaelah Edwards Turner spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony for Neal Math and Science Academy in North Chicago. Courtesy of AbbVie

Updated 12/12/2022 1:08 PM

Students and teachers at Neal Math and Science Academy in North Chicago started classes on Nov. 28 at the new school, which was built with a $40 million donation from biopharmaceutical company AbbVie.

North Chicago Community Unit School District 187's only middle school was designed in collaboration with the school district, AbbVie, students and the community.


Constructed with a focus on STEM learning, the school can now accommodate more than 600 students and has many new features that will aid in student learning, including six new science labs, a media center and innovation lab, music room and fitness center.

Students will now be able to utilize these new features and learn in large open spaces designed to encourage better collaboration. It also features a custom-built sensory room that serves as a therapeutic space to support students' well-being.

A grand opening and ribbon cutting was recently held at Neal Math and Science Academy, where leaders reflected on what the school means to the community.

"As a North Chicago-headquartered company, we have been a long-standing partner with District 187 to improve student success and support children, families and the community," said Laura Schumacher, vice chairman, external affairs and chief legal officer for AbbVie.

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"At AbbVie, giving back to our local communities is part of who we are, and we are proud to support the creation of this new school, which will help the young people in North Chicago to grow, learn and reach their full potential."

This donation is one example of AbbVie's long-standing commitment to the North Chicago community. AbbVie employees have committed more than 100,000 volunteer hours since 2013 to renovate spaces and provide mentoring, STEM education and other support in North Chicago.

Additionally, the AbbVie Foundation has made significant investments in nonprofit partners, including Teach for America, North Chicago Community Partners and Innovations for Learning, which support students in North Chicago through a variety of programs.

"Thanks to AbbVie for their incredible donation and close collaboration throughout the construction process, our students have a transformative opportunity inside and outside of the classroom," District Superintendent John Price said.


"The new Neal Math and Science Academy offers expanded STEM learning and supports our students' own unique goals. This is more than just a new school; it's an economic catalyst for the North Chicago community."

AbbVie and the school district selected IFF, a mission-driven lender, real estate consultant and developer, to facilitate the project. Headquartered in Chicago, IFF works at the intersection of facilities and finance to help nonprofits create safe, inspiring spaces that enable them to achieve their missions and support their communities.

A shared objective for AbbVie, the school district and IFF was to leverage the construction of the school as an economic benefit for North Chicago and prioritize minority, women and veteran tradesman and local subcontractors.

JGMA architects in Chicago designed the new school and Gilbane Building Company, Bowa Construction and Blackwood Group were hired for construction.

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