Shedd recently invited TV viewers to send SMS texts to win tickets to its new Fantasea exhibit.
Sen. Dick Durbin announced the federal grant, which was part of 11 grants nationwide totaling $9 million, on Friday.
The money is to create programs to teach people about the ocean so they take better care of the environment.
Durbin's office said the grant goes to the nonprofit society that runs the aquarium. One of the aquarium's exhibits is an oceanarium.
The grant is from the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.