Anna LauBach, Robert R. McCormick Foundation

TITLE: Director of Veterans Initiatives

FUNDING AREAS: Veterans' issues, including mental health and workforce development

CONTACT: ALauBach@McCormickFoundation.org, (312) 445-5000

IP TAKE: LauBach and her team at McCormick have deep pockets and a commitment to helping post-9/11 war vets get the mental health, workforce development, and transitional services they need in their return to civilian life.

PROFILE: This country invests considerable resources in preparing people to wage wars—there's recruitment, physical training, linguistic and technical training, housing, medical costs. . . The list goes on. But after you serve your time as a warfighter, then what? How do you transition from having most of your basic needs met (in exchange for adherence to the grueling military lifestyle) to living a civilian life of little guidance and limited safety nets? Especially if, like many veterans, you're facing the heavy mental toll of having just been through a war? The shift from the military to the civilian world can be a cultural and emotional challenge. And that shift is precisely what Anna LauBach works to help veterans make in the healthiest manner possible.

LauBach is the Director of Veterans Initiatives at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, a non-profit committed to "fostering communities of educated, informed, and engaged citizens." Established in 1955 by Col. Robert R. McCormick, wealthy founder of the Chicago Tribune and a military man himself, the foundation is one of the country's largest. It holds more than $1 billion in assets and awards upwards of $50 million in charitable grants annually. The foundation's primary areas of focus (intended to honor the legacy of the newspaper man/Colonel for which the organization was named): civic education and engagement, community welfare, Illinois education (birth through third grade), journalism, and veterans' issues.

LauBach comes to McCormick with a background in social welfare, and previous experience working for McCormick earlier in her career. She obtained her master's in social work, worked for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation as a program officer in the area of community welfare, subsequently worked as a senior program officer at the Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation, and finally returned to McCormick in 2008 to head up the foundation's veterans programs. Her goal: "developing and implementing a strategic grantmaking program... that address the unique needs of post 9-11 veterans." Among LauBach's priorities in her veterans work: workforce development and mental health services.

While the Department of Veterans Affairs exists, as do about a million veteran-focused nonprofits, no amount of available services has prevented disproportionately high rates of veteran homelessness or suicide. We're left with the challenge of: How come with so many organizations devoted to veteran wellness, so many veterans continue to fare so poorly upon their return to the country they swore to defend with their lives?

LauBach and team at McCormick aim to address that question by taking a holistic and comprehensive view of veterans' services, public and private, and by supporting projects that offer an integrated approach to veterans' needs. Or, as it says in LauBach's official bio: "She [LauBach] is convening learning communities in the areas of veterans workforce development, mental health and innovative programming which bring key stakeholders to bare on the issues of veterans and determining how best to leverage resources toward these issues." Sounds great, but what does all this stuff about "integrated approaches" and "innovative programming" and "key stakeholders" and "leveraging resources" actually mean in concrete terms, you ask? Let's take a look at what LauBach and her team actually fund.

According to the Robert R. McCormick Foundation's website, it has 24 ongoing grants in the area of veterans issues, ranging in value from $25,000 to nearly $1.1 million. Some examples of McCormick's recent veteran-focused projects:

  • $300,000 to Chicago's Albany Park Community Center in support of workforce development.
  • $1 million to Chicago's Rush University Medical Center in support of veteran health and wellness.
  • $729,000 to the huge, non-profit research group RAND Corporation for... the website doesn't say, but given McCormick and RAND's history, this grant is for a study, presumably?

If you too are interested in seeking funding from McCormick to help veterans adjust to post-war life here in the States, information for potential grantseekers is here, although at the time of this positng, McCormick is not actively seeking grant proposals. McCormick does seek its beneficiaries through a request for proposal process, so you can check periodically to see when McCormick is actively seeking veteran-centric projects to fund.