Robert McCormick Foundation: Grants for Journalism

OVERVIEW: The Robert R. McCormick Foundation supports journalism to encourage a more "informed, news-literate and engaged citizenry" through "quality content, audience education and protection of press freedoms." Its journalism program funds a number of substantial grants each year to various organizations that promote these themes. 

IP TAKE: Given that this foundation is based on a newspaper publishing fortune, it is safe to say that McCormick is in media grantmaking for the long haul. 

PROFILE: Created in 1955, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation honors the legacy of Col. Robert R. McCormick, former editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The foundation seeks to foster “communities of educated, informed, and engaged citizens.” Its Democracy Program supports journalism's role in fostering and strengthening democratic practices and participation.

The Democracy Program seeks to “strengthen democracy in Illinois through informed and engaged individuals and communities, and responsive systems of government.” It prioritizes three focus areas: Engage Youth, Support Local Journalism, and Pursue Institutional Reform. The program is expansive and some of its grants can be fairly substantial.

Before submitting proposals, organizations are asked to submit a Letter of Inquiry describing your request. Requests of more than $50,000 are due in August. Requests of amounts below that are accepted year-round. Grants can range anywhere from around $5,000 to the lower six figures, depending on the organization or program’s needs.

A searchable database of past grants can be found here. Past grants include $600,000 to the Poynter Institute, $1 million to Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, and $400,000 to the News Literacy Project.


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