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We want to build something great.

We are building a world-class aquarium in the Rockford area from the bottom up! And just like a Groundswell, we are making waves as we go. Imagine touching a starfish or a manta ray. Walking under a ceiling of jellyfish. Communing with large sea turtles. Feeding sharks.

Images only before on the pages of books or screens of computers. Now, right here at home.

Building a GroundSwell of Support

GroundSwell is the fundraising arm of the Rockford Aquarium. Our “First Wave” of development and fundraising was dedicated to establishing the basic structure and mission of Rockford’s aquarium. We accomplished the following.

Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) charitable institution in the State of Illinois.

Sought and received over $75,000 in donations to underwrite two studies, Economic Feasibility and Marketing, essential steps toward obtaining public and corporate funding.

Held the Aquarium’s first public exhibit at the Burpee Museum of Natural History in the winter of 2014, where over 12,000 visitors enjoyed learning about tropical fish and living corals.

We are now in our “Second Wave” of our Groundswell Fundraising Program and we invite you to join us. Our next short-term goal is to raise $300,000 to help fund feasibility studies on some potential sites, hire a staff person to identify and apply for grants, meet with potential funders, interview and hire a company that specializes in Capital Campaigns, produce marketing materials and keep in touch with our current donors and supporters.

We’ve made it very easy to help. Just go to the Support Us page of this web site and make your tax-deductible today. All donations above $10.00 will be acknowledged.

Our Vision

To offer a life-altering aquarium experience where visitors will explore beautiful and vibrant ocean life and learn the importance of conserving our water, the ocean and its inhabitants.

Why an Aquarium?

The concept of an aquarium was initiated by a committed group of people who are passionate about aquariums and the impact they have on communities. This group, many of whom currently serve on the Board of Directors, is comprised of local volunteers with a wealth of knowledge and experience in community engagement, leadership, business development and marketing.

The Rockford Aquarium will enhance the quality of life in Northern Illinois. It will occupy a unique space and be fun and educational. It will teach about the wonders of our oceans and rivers. It will bring to life the creatures that make our waters so interesting. It will be a family-centered facility filled with awesome interactivities.

The aquarium will be a highly visible tourist attraction encouraging repeat visitors with ever- changing exhibits. It will be an important economic stimulus, building on the City of Rockford’s plan for further community development.