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About Us

Founding Supporters

It is through the generosity of these individuals, families, businesses and organizations that the Challenger Learning Center of NWI was able to begin their mission to inspire children to reach for the stars and beyond.  With the combined effort of these early supporters, funders, and donors, the Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana was able to blast off and launch into the future to impact over 330,000 students across nearly 20 counties in Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. Thank you so much for helping us get off the ground, the Challenger Learning Center of NWI Staff and Board of Directors is truly grateful for your help in our ignition.

Stellar Club ($50,001 or more)

Endeavor ($10,001- $50,000)

Challenger ($1,001- $10,000)

Apollo ($501- $1,000)

Pioneer ($101- $500)

  • Pat Callahan
  • C. Clifton Chancey
  • Austgen Electric Inc.
  • Marie Russo
  • R. J. “Babe” Woodward Bette
  • Leslie & Molly Oesterle
  • Calumet Section-The Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers Inc.
  • Lake Street School
  • Crown Point Lions Club
  • Schmidt Associates, Inc.
  • Lester Weiss
  • Tim Fealy
  • Francis DuPey
  • Cerestar USA Inc.
  • John and Linda Sapyta
  • Carolyn Devaney
  • Kiwanis Club of Portage
  • Golden Times
  • Carroll Chevrolet
  • Art Hill
  • Donna Retson
  • Ms. Terrie L. Farrenkopf
  • Mr. Douglas C. Vawter
  • Dow Agro Sciences
  • Justin Whitesell
  • Kevin and Catherine Ferguson
  • Michael and Michele Barrett
  • Shomir Sil
  • Margaret Valenzuela
  • Students & Staff Portage Township Middle Schools
  • Construction Advancement Foundation
  • Richard Olesek
  • The Sammon Family
  • The Austgen Family
  • Challenger Learning Center Staff Karen Compton Erwin and Kristin McKone
  • Gloria Gentlman
  • Chris & Judy Leliaert
  • Councilman Daniel Repay
  • The Daake Family
  • Weil-McLane
  • LaHayne Funeral Home, Inc.
  • The Maynard Family
  • CJ Printing Ahepa
  • Charities #78 of Merrillville
  • Charles & Julie Costa
  • Michael & Millie Kobe
  • Robert & Jennifer Vavrek
  • Robert & Majel Rivers
  • Jan Olesek
  • Cargill Cares Council - Hammond

Skylab ($100)

  • Hammond Woodmar Lions Club
  • Calumet City Lions Club
  • Brenda and Gregory Kovich
  • Gary and Marcia Alexander
  • Lake County Surveyor George Van Til
  • Dean Larson Kathleen
  • Tobin-Schlesinger
  • Joey and Mandy Rattazzi
  • Larry Winkleman
  • Griffith Savings Bank
  • Mrs. Lorraine L. Durham
  • Friends of Linda Myron and Linda Nidetz
  • South Lake County Shrine Club
  • Kiwanis Club of Highland
  • The Belush Family
  • Jan Rattazzi (In Memory of Bill Hart)
  • Ric Frataccia
  • Tom Dabertin
  • Councilman Robert Markovich
  • John and Karen Kovach
  • The Zukanovich Family
  • St. Mary School, Griffith, IN
  • Sandy Stevens
  • Frank J. Mrvan, North Township Trustee
  • Carl J. Polk Elementary School
  • Andrea Golarz Ziemba
  • Jerome and Lois Banik
  • Clare & Kay Gierich
  • Bill & Barb Cataldi
  • Ken Allen Law
  • Newins Access Auto Insurance

Teacher Grant Fund Donors

Special thank you to retired astronaut Jerry Ross, his mother Phyllis, sister Jan, and the Ross family for all their support of our Center. Colonel Jerry Ross donated countless pieces of NASA and space memorabilia to display at our Center.  If you visit our Center, ask about the decommissioned piece of the International Space Station that Jerry Ross brought back for students to see every day!