Thursday, December 11, 2014
Monday, December 8, 2014
by Shawn Healy, PhD, Civic Learning & Engagement Scholar, Robert R. McCormick Foundation
The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute (PSPPI) conducted its annual statewide poll from September 23 through October 15, 2014. The poll included three questions pertaining to civic education which mirror recommendations of the Illinois Task Force on Civic Education that would require legislative action by the Illinois General Assembly. They encompass a required civics or government course for high school graduation, along with student service projects in both middle and high school.
Based on a poll of 1,006 registered voters across Illinois, and with a margin of error of plus or minus three-percent, PSPPI found broad support for these recommended civic education requirements. The high school civics course polled best, with more than three-quarters of respondents favoring it strongly (56.6%; see Figure 1) or somewhat (22.9%).
|Figure 1: Would you favor or oppose a proposal to require all Illinois high school students to take or pass a civics or government course in order to graduate?|
More than two-thirds of survey respondents strongly (45.1%; see Figure 2) or somewhat (22.7%) favored a required service project for high school graduation. Support fell slightly for a similar requirement at the middle school level (33.8% favored strongly and 22.5% somewhat).
|Figure 2: Would you favor or oppose a proposal to require all Illinois students to complete a community service project in order to complete middle of high school?|
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
by Jim Struthers, Chief Development Officer
Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday.
The holiday season is upon us. As we embrace the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating and celebrating with family and friends, it’s also a time to reflect on how fortunate we are. We must also keep in mind those who have not been as fortunate and how it is our responsibility to help those in need of a helping hand. That’s where #GivingTuesday comes in.
The third annual #GivingTuesday on December 2 is a national day dedicated to giving back. This year, the day will celebrate generosity, encouraging donors to give what they can.
The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is in the midst of its annual holiday campaign with seven of our Fund Partners across the nation. In Chicago, WGN Radio Neediest Kids Fund and the Chicago Tribune Charities are raising funds for those in need across Chicagoland. The Los Angeles Times Family Fund is making a difference in the fight against illiteracy. Denver Post Charities, Orlando Sentinel Family Fund and the Sun Sentinel Children’s Fund are improving the lives of adults, children and families in their communities. And on Long Island, Newsday Charities promotes the well-being of those less fortunate.
Giving to the Funds of the McCormick Foundation presents a unique way to make your charitable dollar go even further. For every donation, the Foundation will match it $0.50 on the $1.00, one of the few nonprofits to do so. All campaign and administrative expenses are paid, meaning 100% is granted to qualified local nonprofits working to help the disadvantaged in their communities.
Visit the McCormick Foundation’s website, as well as our Facebook page to learn more. Be sure to follow along the #GivingTuesday conversation on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag “#GivingTuesday and #WeMatchHalf.
This #GivingTuesday, remember: “No gift goes further. And stays closer.” Support the Funds of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
Monday, November 17, 2014
by Sara Slaughter, Director, Education Program
In honor of Head Start’s 50th Anniversary and Head Start Awareness Month, the National Head Start Association highlighted one of its alumni each weekday in October. They began the month with Head Start’s current learners and conclude the celebration with the Head Start Class of 1965. The alumni stories exemplified the short-term and long-term benefits Head Start has provided our nation’s most vulnerable children and families. You can view all blog posts at: http://blog.nhsa.org/
Most of us will celebrate our big 5-0 by sharing memories and stories with friends and colleagues. Head Start is no different. In honor of its 50 year anniversary, the National Head Start Association is sharing stories of Head Start Alums like Aida Conroy. In her endearing and informative blog, Aida shares how Head Start nurtured her from a curious toddler, to a young professional. She is now a member of the prestigious Teach for America and teaching the next wave of Head Start students. In a time of skepticism about government programs, isn't it refreshing to celebrate a program putting vulnerable children on a path to success! The following is an excerpt from NHSA’s blog, enjoy!
More Than Milk Cartons
by Aida Conroy
Aida Conroy, a Head Start alum, is currently a 2013 Teach For America corps member teaching at Casa Infantil, a Head Start center of Casa Central in her family’s neighborhood in Chicago.
Twenty milk cartons arrive in my Head Start classroom for breakfast, lunch, and snack each day. For petite, clumsy fingers, still building fine motor skills, these cartons are quite difficult to open. All my students know the milk carton rule: in our classroom we attempt to open our cartons independently at least once. My children try any new way they can cook up! Only after trying can a student ask a friend or teacher for assistance.
Because they face this challenge three times each day, my students have come up with ingenious strategies to open these cartons--far more interesting than my own pinch and pull method. There is “the pinky-pull,” where my students dig their tiniest finger to create a hole before ripping the opening; there is the brute force approach, when students use both hands to push up on the carton; and my personal favorite is when students pull off all four tabs to create square cups.
It is one of my favorite parts of the day, watching them think through new techniques as their fumbling fingers push and pull at the carton openings. This reminds me of when I conquered the same task.
The accomplishment of opening my milk carton for the first time by myself is one of my earliest memories. It happened at Head Start when I was in preschool. I used one hand to grip the bottom of the carton while my thumb and index finger pushed and pulled the tabs. I shrieked with delight when I was able to pull out the spout. Just like my students, I had tried and failed to open my milk carton each day, three times a day for months. The pleasure of this accomplishment made my chocolate milk seem as if it had never tasted so good.
This little moment from my classroom illuminates for me how my own experience attending Head Start as a child influences my hopes and dreams for the Head Start students I teach today. While many of us can recall the delight in motor-skill mastery, it’s the so-called ‘soft’-skills I particularly enjoy teaching. I attempt to equip my students with the most crucial skills for life--the ability to give and receive love, to respect others, to speak from the heart, to listen intently, to explore and discover, to fail and always to try again. Teaching these social emotional skills makes me most proud to be a Head Start teacher.
To continue reading Aida’s interesting Head Start blog please follow this link: http://blog.nhsa.org/blog/more-milk-cartons-head-start-alumni-spotlight#sthash.UNR9WGoN.dpuf
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
by Megan Daley, Communications Intern
Veterans have so much to teach us, about loyalty, respect, honor, duty. The freedoms we take for granted every day: from planting our feet firmly on the ground as we begin our day to enjoying that first sip of morning coffee. Active members of the military, as well as veterans, ensure our little moments of freedom. All they need us to do is listen.
The “Got Your 6” campaign hosted a Storytellers event, a sort of “TED Talks” in partnership with NPR’s StoryCorps in New York City. One of the speakers of the event was Eli Williamson, Robert R. McCormick Foundation’s director of the Veterans Program. The event brought together 10 veterans to tell their stories, hoping to start a conversation and empower veterans.
The veterans featured in the talkback were from all different walks of life, including a musician, entrepreneur and civic leader. But, all of those who spoke had a military background and were now thriving in their chosen fields. John Oliver, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, attended the event. The talks, including Eli’s discussion, were released to the public in association with partners like MTV and HBO. MTV also featured a documentary that followed four post-9/11 veterans on Veterans Day, November 11.
Our friends at @MTV are featuring a special documentary following four post-9/11 vets called #GotYour6 on 11/11 http://t.co/lysJ4JbuC7
— GotYourSix (@GotYourSix) November 7, 2014
Here is the link to watch Eli’s discussion, “Can you see the existential threats?” as well as seven other videos recorded for the “Got Your 6 Storytellers” event this year.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
by Don Cooke, Senior Vice-President of Philanthropy
As the World Series winds down, we at the McCormick Foundation are proud of our partnership with Major League Baseball to help veterans re-integrate into their communities. Our program, Welcome Back Veterans, was celebrated during the first game of the World Series in Kansas City, and fans at the game and watching on television saw wonderful public service announcements honoring our returning warriors.
The partnership between Major League Baseball and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation has generated programs at eight major medical universities that support veterans with post-traumatic stress and brain injuries, the signature wounds of those who recently served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Located in Boston, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, North Carolina, and Michigan, these programs reach out to the veteran community and provide treatment for vets and family members. They also provide training opportunities for other service providers so that our warriors facing challenges can become vital members of their communities. It is privilege to work with Major League Baseball and to serve those who have served our country.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
by Molly Baltman, Assistant Director/Grantmaking
This blog is an update of "Launch of McCormick Foundation's Child Trauma and Prevention Unified Outcomes Project", posted on July 8, 2013.
Due to a lack of standardization of outcomes in the field of home visiting, parenting programs, and child trauma, the Communities program launched a capacity building project in 2013 in partnership with 30 grantees funded through Chicago Tribune Charities. The goal of the project was to determine appropriate data to use in evaluating program impact, increase capacity of organizations to use data for decision-making and quality improvement and allow for benchmarking and cross-agency learning through grantee convening.
Now, after more than a year, we are seeing the results of work on behalf of our grantees and staff. The short-term results of and learnings from the project are as follows:
- Broadened the standardized data we collect beyond client-level behavior changes (shown through evidence-based tools) to include best practices and program level indicators.
- Developed a new application and rubric to evaluate programs that take into account grantee input and guidance, and emphasizes theory of change.
- Provided evaluation capacity building of grantees through learning communities, training, technical assistance and evaluation coaching. Grantees drove the content of the cross-learning convening, evaluation coaching, and group trainings.
The next phase of the project is to continue providing opportunities for cross-learning, evaluation coaching and training. We will carry on discussions with public and private funders regarding interest in collaborating, and are partnering with Loyola University to study the impact of the evaluation coaching model on the individual grantees involved.
Monday, September 29, 2014
by Jeff Reiter, Senior Manager of Communications
In June, Cantigny Golf was pleased to receive RevelationGolf’s Humanitarian Award for its work helping veterans through their rehabilitation programs at Cantigny. Elk Grove-based nonprofit RevelationGolf is small but it does big work, especially with disabled veterans.
Cantigny Golf has been a RevelationGolf partner since 2010, conducting monthly clinics for veterans with disabilities. The clinics serve veterans from Edward Hines Jr. Veteran Affairs Hospital in Maywood and Jesse Brown Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Chicago.
Cantigny’s head golf professional, Patrick Lynch, works with veterans personally and considers it an honor. The partnership with RevelationGolf shows once again that golf is more than just a game – it can be transformative.
Some of the veterans are just getting back to golf while others are new to the game. Some participants are blind or struggle with PTSD. Many rely on modified and adaptive equipment. But for all players, RevelationGolf is proving that golf can be highly therapeutic.
Without RevelationGolf, many veterans might never benefit from the euphoria of experiencing the game — something that looks so simple to most of us but is potentially life-changing for others. At the very least, a little time on the range with the team from RevelationGolf can bring joy to a veteran’s day.
In addition to veterans, RevelationGolf programs serve children and adults with cancer or a disability and at-risk girls ages 7 to 17. To find out more of RevelationGolf, please visit RevelationGolf.org
Monday, September 22, 2014
by Stacy Ehrlich and Julia Gwynne
Nationally, there has been a great effort to increase funding for early education programs to increase enrollment of at-risk children into high-quality programs, such as Head Start. However, recent research highlights that once children are enrolled in preschool, they must also regularly attend to reap the benefits.
A study conducted by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, in collaboration with Chicago Public Schools, found that preschool students who are chronically absent – meaning they miss 10 percent or more of enrolled school days – have lower levels of math, letter recognition, and social-emotional skills by the time they enter kindergarten than children who attend regularly. In the 2011-12 school year, 45 percent of 3-year-olds and more than one-third of 4-year-olds were missing this much school – equivalent to three weeks. Moreover, for a portion of these students, preschool is the beginning of a pattern that continues well into the elementary school years.
The reasons for absences vary, but health of the child and family members is the leading reason why preschoolers miss school. Some families struggle with logistical obstacles in getting their children to school, including transportation and child care.
Poor school attendance, beginning in the earliest of years, is one of the first indicators that a child may be struggling at home and at school. It is a call for individual outreach by teachers and program staff to families, to understand their particular struggles and barriers to school attendance. Expressing to families that program staff care can be a monumental first step in redirecting a child onto the path of success.
But early attendance is not just an indicator of a problem. It can be a powerful lever for putting children on a path toward later success, including better attendance and better grades in third grade and beyond.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
by Dr. Shawn Healy, Civic Learning & Engagement Scholar
Today, the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition (ICMC), convened by the McCormick Foundation, announces nine new Democracy Schools. Since 2006, the ICMC has recognized over 30 high schools throughout Illinois who have demonstrated deep commitments to civic learning across the curriculum, in extracurricular activities and through student voice in school governance.
During this time, we have learned six major lessons about sustaining and institutionalizing high-quality, school-based civic learning in Illinois:
- These efforts must target cities, suburbs and rural areas to reach the ever-diverse student population. Our democracy’s health is dependent upon equitable civic learning opportunities.
- Civic learning is not merely the concern of civics and government teachers, but the entire school faculty.
- Principals should lead a vision for their schools’ civic missions and create space for their faculties to align civic learning with Common Core.
- Teachers across disciplines need ongoing access to professional development opportunities emphasizing both civic content and pedagogies.
- Schools must bring community partners into their buildings to work with students and teachers, but also send students out in service of their communities.
- Schools should practice the democracy they teach by incorporating all stakeholders’ voices in their governance, modeling effective civic engagement and nurturing its development among students.
The ICMC is growing a self-sustaining network of Democracy Schools committed to students’ civic development. This network increasingly reflects the state’s geographic, racial, ethnic, and economic diversity. Through rigorous research and evaluation, its practices prove that civic learning can flourish in every corner of Illinois, and among all student populations.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Letter originally published in the Chicago Sun-Times "Letters to the Editor" on September 12, 2014.
Can a struggling student at a school in one of Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods be successful?
We believe the answer is “yes” and there’s research now that shows the way. Obstacles can be addressed if students have a mentor. A mentor can model good decision-making and problem-solving skills that can have a huge impact on a young person’s life. Mentors serve as living testaments to the rewards of staying on the right track, and helping students visualize a bright future.
The need is big. Some 400,000 kids began a new school year in Chicago this month. Most of them lack sufficient economic support. About 85 percent of Chicago Public Schools students receive free or reduced-price meals.
These kids often face some big hurdles, such as housing, incessant hunger and one-parent-families stressed by abuse or incarceration. Then there is the neighborhood violence in Chicago.
A rigorous 2013 study, “Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout: A Randomized Field Experiment,” by the National Bureau for Economic Research (NBER) found that participation in Chicago’s “Becoming a Man” program reduced violent-crime arrests by 44 percent and non-violent arrests by 36 percent over the course of the school year. A key component of “Becoming a Man” is mentoring, and NBER also was able to project markedly higher rates of high school graduation for these students as a result of their increased academic engagement.
Many groups coordinate successful mentoring programs in the Chicago area. City Year Chicago reports positive outcomes when placing AmeriCorps members as mentors and tutors in schools to provide the consistency and support students need to feel engaged in learning and invested in their futures. Corps members are now in 21 schools throughout the city. Last year, 62 percent of targeted students improved their behavior assessments and 77 percent showed improvements in their academic assessment scores.
Mentoring is a key ingredient to ensuring Chicago youth can see past the violence to a life as educated, informed and engaged citizens. Every child needs someone to emulate if they are to develop their potential to become leaders and be their own best advocates. This means Chicago needs a surge of caring adults.
It’s time to prioritize an approach that works. We need more people, especially young adults, to step forward as volunteer mentors and join with the city’s philanthropic community to expand support for our at-risk students.
Lisa Morrison Butler is the executive director of City Year Chicago
David D. Hiller is the President & CEO of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation
Monday, August 11, 2014
by Francisco Martinez, Communications Associate
My world, at the age of 14, was very small. Before high school, I never ventured outside of Edgewater, a neighborhood on the north side of Chicago. Within the two-mile radius surrounding my home, all I knew was my family, friends and school. When it came time to choosing a high school –a privilege given to a few in the CPS magnet schools process— it created an interesting outcome.
In my mind, selecting a high school, it was simple. Go to the best school (academically) without going too far “south.” With that criterion in mind, I decided on Lane Tech High School. The other schools that had accepted me were either outside my comfort zone or too far “south.” Looking back, I recognize that any of these schools would have been excellent choices. I often wonder how my high school experience would have been different had I taken another path.
I was still very nervous going to Lane Tech. During one of our first half days as freshmen, my new group of friends proposed going to lunch at a restaurant that was south of Fullerton Avenue just 1.5 miles from the campus. I didn’t know what to say. I nervously responded, “Why so far south?” The group, comprised of kids from all over Chicago, looked puzzled by my question. One of my friends finally asked me, “What is the farthest south you’ve ever been?” Embarrassed, I answered. My friends then laughed and proceeded to assure me everything would be fine and I would have the best sandwich of my life.
Recently, I had the privilege of sharing my high school experiences, including this story, with a group of kids from After-School All-Stars Chicago (ASAS). These kids were part of a summer program called STEM CampUS, which is one-week program that helps low-income Chicago Pubic School students transition from eighth grade into high school.
Participating in the luncheon brought back so many memories of my early days at Lane Tech. During the luncheon, three Foundation employees, including McCormick Foundation President and CEO, David Hiller and myself, shared stories of our middle school and high school days, and how these experiences helped to shape who we are today. As I sat listening to the other’s stories, I couldn’t help but relate to the students in the room. Seeing them, reminded me of being an eighth grader going into my freshman year. Although unlike me, through ASAS, they all had an opportunity to be exposed to new borders and cultural experiences before entering high school.
It is my belief these first-hand experiences will translate into phenomenal opportunities and adventures, some of which they would have never seen as possibilities if it weren’t for ASAS. Kudos to them an all groups enriching students lives by opening their eyes and ears to the wonder of cultural and career exploration.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
by Paul Herbert, Executive Director, First Division Museum at Cantigny Park
In time for the observance of the 100th anniversary of World War I, Dr. Jeff Gusky launches a wonderful photo exhibit, The Hidden World of WWI. The exhibit reveals the folk art of World War I soldiers of all nations left in long-forgotten bunkers, fortifications and caves that Gusky has explored. Included are images from an abandoned root cellar at Cantigny, France, that once was occupied by doughboys of the US First Division.
|Former underground city beneath the trenches. Picardy, France.|
© 2013, Jeffrey Gusky. All Rights Reserved. Jeffrey Gusky, c/o attorney at P.O. Box 2526, Addison, TX 75001-2526. email@example.com
Gusky has discovered simple graffiti by soldiers who recorded their presence and their survival thus far, as well as elaborate evocative sculptures by soldiers who surely spent weeks or months underground. His work is two layers of art – the poignancy of the soldier art itself, and the excellence of his photographic images.
|Carving reads 'Liberty leaving the world, September, 1917, a soldier of the 278, the disasters of the 20th Century, the sun of my youth'. Picardy, France.|
© 2013, Jeffrey Gusky. All Rights Reserved. Jeffrey Gusky, c/o attorney at P.O. Box 2526, Addison, TX 75001-2526. firstname.lastname@example.org