Children born into poverty are unfairly disadvantaged because the first five years of a child's life are so developmentally crucial. One of Chicago's most respected philanthropic organizations, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, gets that. (See McCormick Foundation: Chicago Area Grants). Which is why it invests heavily in early childhood organizations — like the Ounce of Prevention Fund.
The Robert R. McCormick Foundation was established by long-time publisher and editor of the Chicago Tribune, Robert McCormick, in 1955. The foundation, one of the nation's largest foundations with more than $1 billion in assets, provides grants for various public service organizations in education, civics, veteran affairs, and journalism. McCormick has contributed over $250,000 each year to the Ounce of Prevention Fund each year since 2007. These funds go towards the Fund's leadership campaigns, general operating support, and public advocacy efforts.
In a June 18, 2012 press release, McCormick education program director Sara Slaughter says the grants "will help Illinois address critical areas, such as principal preparation and the achievement gaps for Latino and African American children."
The Ounce of Prevention's objective is to assist children born into poverty with early childhood development during the first five years of life. It directly serves over 4,000 children and families throughout Illinois, trains over 3,000 early childhood professionals, and designs educational models to prevent academic and social achievement gaps. Ounce relies on private funding dollars to develop innovative early brain development programs and then leverages public funding to implement and sustain these essential programs.
According to a 2012 policy statement from the Academy of Pediatrics, the number of at-risk children is increasing dramatically. Ounce of Prevention's president Diana Rauner noted that "in partnership with the McCormick Foundation, we have been at the forefront of efforts to use state and new federal investments to improve and extend the impact of home visiting programs in Illinois." Voluntary home visiting programs have shown to be one of the most effective methods to help young parents nurture and support their babies, while minimizing environmental risks.