"Where are you going to do with your service year?" Although that’s not a common question you hear asked in the United States, City Year and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation are working to make it asked more frequently. (See McCormick Foundation: Chicago Area Grants).
The Robert R. McCormick Foundation gave $300,000 to the educational service organization City Year to support the Corps Leadership Development and Training program from 2011 to 2014. City Year aims to fight the national dropout crisis and improve classroom performance in math, English, attendance, and behavior. City Year corps members tutor small groups of students, organize group games to excite students about the school day, and assist teachers in classrooms.
You might assume that City Year's grant was made as part of McCormick's education program, but you'd be wrong. McCormick made the grant as part of its civics program, which aims to strengthen civic education systems and facilitate lifelong civic engagement. McCormick's civics grantmaking focuses on delivering high-quality educational programs, building the capacity of educators, and promoting the essential civic mission of schools.
Other recent civics grantees in the Chicago area include the American Indian Health Services of Chicago, Better Government Association, Campus Catalyst, and the Chicago Freedom School. If your nonprofit organization is looking to McCormick for a civics grant, make sure that your program focuses on four areas: youth civic education, youth civic engagement, professional development and training for educators, or related policy and advocacy initiatives.
Bottom line: Don't limit yourself to education program if your nonprofit is also doing its civic duty. Although the amount of money for the civics program is smaller, so is the pool of applicants. To apply for a civics grant, send McCormick a letter of inquiry that describes your organization's mission in a couple pages. If your request is less than $50,000, you can submit a request at any time because McCormick reviews these monthly. If you’re asking for more than $50,000, you’ll need to get your proposal in before December 1 so it can be considered for the February board of directors meeting. Email inquiries should be directed to Andrea Jett Fletcher.