OVERVIEW: The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is a huge player in Chicago philanthropy, giving millions of dollars each year to civics, community improvement, education, journalism, and veteran causes.
FUNDING AREAS: Education, democracy, communities, veterans
IP TAKE: This funder prioritizes Chicago's youngest residents through its education and democracy programs, so focus a new pitch on early childhood education and youth civic awareness.
PROFILE: Established in 1955 by the longtime Chicago Tribune publisher and editor, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation is one of the largest foundations in the United States, with over $1 billion in assets. This is the foundation of the legendary editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The foundation aims to “assist communities, to strengthen democracy, and help ensure that all families and children have the opportunities they need to flourish.” McCormick's grantmaking focus areas are education, democracy, communities, and veterans.
The foundation’s communities program is focused on stimulating local philanthropy to transform communities. The self-sufficiency of children, adults, and families is a priority here. Its democracy program funds nonprofits that strengthen the pillars of America’s democratic society. This program is focused on strengthening democracy in Illinois. Education grants go towards building early childhood education in Illinois. The program specifically targets Illinois children’s first eight years of life. Finally, veterans’ grants go towards helping veterans transition from military life to civilian life. This program is also focused on Illinois. Another part of the McCormick mission is to sustain the museums, parks, gardens, and golf course at the founder's Cantigny Park estate in suburban Wheaton, Illinois. This 500-acre farm was owned by Robert McCormick, and he arranged for it to become a public park in his will.
Foundation grants tend to range from $10,000 to $300,000. Grantseekers can view a list of past grants on the funder’s online database. Grantmaking is largely focused on Chicago, but also on Illinois as a whole.
The foundation welcomes funding requests from nonprofits that work within its core priority areas. Download the program evaluation guide from the funder’s website. Grantseekers can reach out to the foundation with general questions at 312-445-5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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