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Showing posts from 2015

My Way to Olympia

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by Francisco Martinez, Communications Associate On July 26, 1990, our nation committed itself to eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities. The American Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates 25 years since the passage of this historic mandate. To honor the ADA and raise awareness of barriers still faced by individuals with disabilities, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, in partnership with WTTW/Channel 11, is hosting a McCormick Community Screening at the Chicago History Museum (CHM) featuring the film My Way to Olympia on November 16. This award-wining documentary, directed and produced by Niko von Glasow’s, a disabled filmmaker, follows a group of disabled athletes preparing for London's Paralympics competition. Born with severely shortened arms, von Glasow serves as an endearing guide to London’s Paralympics competition. As he meets a one-handed Norwegian table tennis player, the Rwandan sitting volleyball team, an American archer without arms and a Greek par…

Veterans Benefit from 311 Enhancements

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by Megan Everett, Program Officer Have you used the Chicago 311 Call Center recently? In January 1999, Chicago implemented the 311 system to enhance access to all city services and to decrease 911 calls for non-emergency police services. The system centralized satellite call centers so that citizens did not have call several different departments to reach the services that they need. Fast forward to 2015, after a series of meetings with staff from the Mayor’s Office, the Advisory Council on Veterans Affairs for the City of Chicago welcomed the news that the city would enhance the 311 intake assessment to better identify military veterans and active duty service members so they could be directed to specific resources and services. On June 24, 2015 Mayor Emanuel’s office announced that residents who call 311 to request a range of services, including homeless prevention, employment services, senior well-being checks, emergency food, and crisis referral services, will be asked by a 311…

Getting the Word Out

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The best way to enhance your child's development, simply put, is to talk with them. Dr. Dana Suskind, founder and director of the Thirty Million Words (TMW) initiative recently released a book, Thirty Million Words: Building a Child's Brain that discusses the importance of early exposure to language in a child's development. The book provides an engaging and informed account of Dr. Suskind's experience as a pediatric cochlear implant surgeon, highlights emerging early childhood research and outlines three simple tools, known as the Three T's, that every parent and caregiver can us to enrich their child's language environment. The Three T tool kit includes: Tune in to what your child is doingTalk more by using descriptive words with your childTake turns engaging in conversation with your childIt's no secret to speech/language and hearing professionals that children's early language environments are critical to their speech, language, and academic outcome…

Growing a Healthy Community in Englewood

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by David Pesqueria, Senior Program Officer Residents are the most important assets to any community. Yet many communities face challenges, such as high poverty, unemployment, failing schools and housing instability that directly impact their residents and deter growth. Englewood in Chicago is one such community. For decades, community residents, nonprofits and government-funded programs have worked tirelessly to reverse a declining population and job base, underperforming schools and high crime. In June, key community players, including community residents, Teamwork Englewood, Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Chicago (LISC-Chicago) and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, came together to begin discussing such challenges faced by the community. On the agenda, was updating a comprehensive community revitalization blueprint called the Quality of Life Plan, originally crafted in 2005, that has acted as a framework for building, sustaining and operationalizing community structur…

Student Leaders in Elections

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by Shawn Healy, Civic Learning Scholar Young people participate in our democracy when they have the capacity, connections, and commitments to follow through. School-based civic learning is a critical contributor to this equation, and Illinois Governor Rauner’s recent signing if landmark civic education legislation is reason to celebrate. Also critical to youth civic development are real-world opportunities to contribute to democratic rituals like elections. The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law connected the two in their “Student Leaders in Elections” program that spanned three elections over the past two years. They collected more than 3,500 applications to serve as election judges from college students throughout the Chicagoland region. Nearly half of them served as judges in at least one election, and more than too worked two or more elections. A follow-up case study published last month produced generalizable findings that contribute greatly to our understandi…

Preserving the Green

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by Scott Witte, Director of Golf Maintenance In 1993, Cantigny became one of the earliest golf courses in the United States to earn the prestigious classification of “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary”. To reach certification, property owners and managers demonstrate a high degree of environmental excellence in: Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management. In recent years, Cantigny Park and Cantigny Golf have joined forces to maintain the Robert R. McCormick Estate’s Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary status. In doing so, Cantigny joins over 3,000 properties including golf courses, cemeteries, ski areas, housing developments, hotels, and communities in the rigorous certification program. Through education, technical assistance, certification, and recognition, Audubon International facilitates the implementation of environmental management practices that…

Robert R. McCormick Theater Dedication

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by Phil Zepeda, Director of CommunicationsThanks to a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, visitors to the Chicago History Museum (CHM) will now get a chance to step into the newly renovated, state-of-the-art Robert R. McCormick Theater, which was designed in keeping of the historical style of the original auditorium.The theater features a dynamic new film presentation entitled “The Great Chicago Adventure” that transports visitors through major events in Chicago’s history. Feel the intensity of the Great Chicago Fire and splendor of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Explore the sights of bustling Maxwell Street in the 1950s and peer down from an I-beam of the Sears Tower in the 1970s. Relive Chicago sports victories and cheer on President Obama during his Grant Park victory speech. New audio, lighting, and video equipment bring the theater’s technology to the cutting edge of the 21st Century, led by the installation of a 4K digital projector and supporting playback devices. …

Veterans Impact Pledge Marks One Year

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by Don Cooke, Senior Vice President of Philanthropy On May 12 a special event at the Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. marked the first year anniversary of the Philanthropy – Joining Forces Impact Pledge supporting veterans and military families. The Impact Pledge consists of more than 160 grant-makers, non-profits, policymakers and service providers banding together to help veterans successfully reintegrate to civilian life. The first anniversary marks an important milestone in an ongoing effort to build the philanthropic sector’s commitment to providing vital services to veterans and their families. This year, we expanded our efforts by raising more than $106 million in new commitments. This is in addition to the $170 million that was raised in 2014.It has been very rewarding to help this initiative grow. The McCormick Foundation has been a leader in this effort since the inception several months ago, and we are proud to continue working with colleagues around the…

Civics Legislation Awaits Governor's Signature

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by Shawn Healy, Civic Learning Scholar Civics legislation—HB 4025—requiring that Illinois students take a civics course to graduate from high school, was delivered to Governor Rauner on Thursday, June 25. The Governor has 60 days from the day he received the bill to sign it into law. On May 30, the Illinois Senate approved HB 4025 with strong bi-partisan support. The bill previously passed the House, and now goes to Governor Rauner for signature. Representative Deb Conroy (D-Villa Park) and Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) championed the legislation in their respective chambers. Illinois is one of only eleven states that does not have a civic education graduation requirement. As a result, “Many students graduate without even basic knowledge of current events and how to become active members of their communities,” said Rep. Conroy. The proposed legislation will help fill this civic empowerment gap, and bring civics back to all our schools."Good government is a result of public …

Celebrating 60 Beautiful Years at Cantigny

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by Jeff Reiter, Senior Communications ManagerThe Robert R. McCormick Foundation is marking 60 years by inviting visitors for a special day at Cantigny Park on Thursday, July 30. Annually celebrated as the birthday of Col. Robert R. McCormick, the day will offer guests extra special experiences including behind-the-scenes tours, and a free evening concert by the renowned Chicago Sinfonietta. As McCormick’s former home located in west suburban Wheaton, Cantigny enriches our community every day and is enjoyed by more than 350,000 visitors each year. On July 30, visitors will get a special glimpse of everything Cantigny has to offer: including the formal gardens, the walking trails, the McCormick Museum and the First Division Museum, dedicated to the history of the Big Red One, the famed 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. “This is our birthday celebration with the community,” said David Hiller, President and CEO of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. “Sixty years ago, Col. McCormick g…

Bridges to Employment

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by Megan Everett, Program Officer, Veterans Through the month of March, Student Veterans of America Illinois hosted a signature event series called Bridges To Employment (BTE). The BTE event series assembles executives and senior managers from the public and private sectors to engage in a panel discussion educating veterans on the strengths they bring to future careers. Following the panel, veterans in attendance connected in a networking forum with professional partners to empower student veterans with networking skills necessary to succeed. BTE seminars were designed to arm veterans with pertinent networking skills and provide an opportunity to effectively market their skills.The BTE events took place at colleges across the state of Illinois. BTE visited Northwestern University in Chicago, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and Illinois State University in Bloomington/Normal. Through the four events over 150 student veterans were able …

Marking 60 Years

by David Hiller, President and CEO In 2015, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation is marking 60 years of fostering communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens.To honor the legacy of our benefactor and continue our commitment to individuals and families in the Chicagoland area, the Foundation is taking on a number of activities that help our grantee organizations deliver on their own mission of service. Our goal is to recognize and incorporate the work of our grantee organizations, building support for their causes in a forward-thinking manner.Honoring WTTW’s 60th YearChicago’s public broadcasting leader, WTTW/Channel 11, is also marking 60 years in 2015, prompting the Foundation to offer a grant to the station to support their efforts to educate and inform their viewers. Through sponsorship of Chicago Tonight, WTTW’s 60th Anniversary Gala, McCormick Community Screenings and support during upcoming pledge nights, the Foundation is able to actively illustrate our commitment to…

Multi-Faith Veteran Support Project

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by Megan Everett, Veterans Program Officer Veterans from all eras face a unique set of opportunities and challenges when transitioning from military service back to civilian life. When servicemembers return to their communities, it is often challenging and overwhelming to navigate the various services and matching them to their own needs. Faith is a natural place for people to turn to in times of need. It is this pre-existing infrastructure that has prompted the faith-based and the social service communities to come together to help veterans and their families.  In fall 2014, faith-based leaders, mental health practitioners, veteran service providers, pastoral care practitioners and other interested parties came together to launch the Multi-Faith Veterans Support Project (MVP), a new effort to pilot projects that will enhance the quality of life for veterans and their families. The Steans Center's Egan Office for Urban Education and Community Partnerships at DePaul University is c…

McCormick Turns 60

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by Phil Zepeda, Director of CommunicationsRobert R. McCormick was one of Chicago’s first major philanthropists, with his generosity helping to shape the city he loved. In 2015, the Foundation that bears his name will mark the 60th anniversary of its establishment. Over that time, the McCormick Foundation has touched the lives of thousands of people, contributing more than one billion dollars to journalism, education, community action, social and economic services and civic engagement. The McCormick Foundation is marking the year with special partnerships and events for the communities in and around Chicago. Also celebrating 60 years of its commitment to Chicago is WTTW/Channel 11. Through special support of their premiere news program Chicago Tonight, regular pledge drives, and special community screenings, the Foundation will help trumpet the tremendous value that the station has added to our lives since its first broadcast. Through an enhanced partnership with the Donors Forum, the …

Common Goals for Our Children

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by Beth Swanson, Vice President of Strategy and Programs, Joyce Foundation (Chair, Thrive Chicago Board of Directors) and Tom Vanden Berk, Chief Executive Officer, UCAN/Peace Hub (Member, Thrive Chicago Board of Directors) When he laid out his education priorities for the next four years, Mayor Emanuel made it clear that while Chicago has made great strides in its educational outcomes, we still have a long way to go. The Mayor plans to expand high-quality education choices at neighborhood schools throughout the city and empower parents and school leaders to improve their local schools. However, he won’t be able to achieve these outcomes alone. As he said, he’ll need to harness the combined might of parents, teachers, and principals. And in addition, he will need to tap the collective power of non-profits and community groups that support Chicago’s young people every day.Previously incubated in the Mayor’s Office and now launching as a community-led, independent organization, Thrive Ch…