Northwest Federal Credit Union Donates $10M to Children’s Science Museum

Northwest Federal Credit Union is cutting a $10 million check to help pave the way for the planned Northern Virginia Science Center in eastern Loudoun.

Children’s Science Center Executive Director Adalene “Nene” Spivy on Wednesday announced the credit union’s contribution to the $75 million museum, which is planned to be built in 2021 in the Kincora development near the intersection of Rt. 28 and Rt. 7 as an extension of the Science Museum of Virginia. The contribution means the center now has 85 percent of the funds it needs for construction, with the Loudoun Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night unanimously approving another $15 million for the project.

On hand to talk about the donation was Northwest Federal Credit Union President and CEO Jeff Bentley, who said the museum would serve, inspire and transform lives. “It’s a win-win for everyone involved,” he said.

Bentley invited those present at the announcement to become members of the credit union and challenged other CEOs and business leaders in the community to support the museum project. “Give it a lot of thought,” he said.

The credit union is now the lead building naming sponsor of the museum project.

Spivy said the project is expected to be fully funded by the end of 2020. She said the design process is expected to wrap up by early 2021, with construction on the 70,000-square-foot museum immediately following.

Once opened, the museum will feature large-scale STEM-focused interactive exhibits for visitors ages 1-101 to explore. It will also include themed experience zones and space for temporary exhibits, classrooms and gathering spaces. “There’s a lot of exciting things on the drawing board right now,” Spivy said.

The museum will be the next phase of the Children’s Science Center Lab, which is located at the Fair Oaks Mall and serves more than 70,000 visitors annually. Before the lab opening in 2015, Northern Virginia was the largest metropolitan area in the nation without of a children’s museum or interactive science center.

Also present at Wednesday’s announcement were Science Museum of Virginia Chief Wonder Officer Rich Conti, County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), Del. David Reid (D-32), Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) and his soon-to-be successor, supervisor-elect Sylvia Glass.

Conti said the science centers that his company operates are places where ideas are formed—ideas that might one day end up in the Smithsonian. He said the goal is to make Northern Virginia’s Science Center a “beloved institution” for Loudoun County and all of Northern Virginia.

Randall said the legacy of the museum would not be which types of science-related features will be offered inside, but the lasting impression it will have on each child who walks through. She said the museum would change children’s lives and become a cultural hub for the region, all while making money.

The Science Museum of Virginia operates a 205,000-square-foot museum in Richmond that serves more than 500,000 visitors each year and features a 76-foot screen that provides visitors with a “you are there” experience. It’s the largest screen in Virginia.

The museum’s satellite location in Danville serves more than 50,000 visitors annually and is also undergoing a renovation of its core exhibits, which will complete by early 2021.

Headquartered in Herndon, Northwest Federal Credit Union has more than 270,000 members and employs more than 550 people. The $3.6 billion company has more than 600 member companies in Northern Virginia.

Northwest Federal Credit Union President and CEO Jeff Bentley discusses the $10 million contribution his company is providing for the Northern Virginia Science Center project. [Patrick Szabo/Loudoun Now]
A rendering of the planned Children’s Science Center at Kincora in Sterling. [Children’s Science Center]

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