Monday, December 19, 2016

My Journey as a Philanthropist, Part 3

by Kat Birkenbeuel, Development Intern


There are so many articles out there trying to dissect the millennial brain when it comes to philanthropy. My generation is known for online engagement, valuing volunteer opportunities over donations and demanding transparency. We are idealistic dreamers.


But when the magnitude of need creeps in, so does the apathy. There are so many factors that affect the daily lives of those who are struggling to make ends meet. It can be discouraging. Can my $10 donation actually impact someone’s life? Apathy can be crippling. I am the first to admit it.



Recently I was able to attend a site visit and this experience gave me a different perspective.

On a regular Thursday morning, I hop off the L and walk down a rather typical street. I find myself in front of a brick building on a mild Chicago summer day. Walking inside, I glance around the cramped office, with desks covered in sticky notes and walls covered in color-coded white boards. A pretty ordinary space.

As we tour the building, we arrive in the early childhood classroom. Giggles of children bounce off the colorful walls as they proudly show off their newest artwork. A girl with big brown eyes looks up at us. I think of all the things her eyes have seen, yet she smiles and laughs and acts like any 4 year-old girl. It is then when I realize that this is no ordinary place.

The tour continues as we visit various English-learning classrooms and we are welcomed with smiles from parents, elderly and teenagers alike, all eager to show off their reading skills. Students’ eyes fill with pride as they correctly answer questions and speak with us.

The program coordinator explains that refugees are often illiterate in their first language, so trying to learn to read, write and comprehend things in a new, unfamiliar language is even more of a challenge. She articulates to us that if an individual, refugee or not, cannot read or write, they cannot fill out job applications, which means they have no paycheck. With no income, they cannot pay for a roof over their heads. With low literacy skills, they cannot help their children with school work or fill out health forms at the doctor.


That’s when I have this lightbulb moment. Social issues don’t happen in a vacuum, instead they compound on each other. Individuals and families in need in our communities aren’t just struggling with one thing- their struggles come at them from all sides. It’s a snowball effect.


My generation thinks that with so many problems in the world, their donation doesn’t matter. It won’t make a difference. It won’t solve everything. But once we realize that needs are interconnected, that thought changes. Yes, you can’t solve every problem in our world, but when you support someone in need in one aspect of their life, it helps them tenfold. Not every social issue is a cause, sometimes it is a symptom of something else. However, when we give our support, we start another snowball effect for the better.


As I wrote in part two of this series, just because you can’t give big, doesn’t mean that you can’t have an impact. You can give small once a month. You and your friends can decide to make a donation instead of getting each other holiday gifts. When you add up the collective impact you, or you and your friends, make throughout the course of a year, you are changing lives. Let’s revisit the story from the beginning of this post and see just how big of an impact one or two programs can have:

When a refugee organization provides stable housing to a family and English literacy courses, they are actually improving their quality of life. English literacy courses allow adults to find work. Stable housing allows children to focus on school and stay in a constant environment and not switch classrooms and districts from moving around. Employed parents are able to support their children with education and resources they need to succeed.


So yes, your donations can make a difference. Apathy aside, millennials do understand the issues troubling our society. Unlike previous generations, we don’t necessarily support organizations based on their popularity; we support issues that we care about and organizations who help change lives in these avenues.


When society starts looking at issues over organizations, there is a shift in thinking. Instead of donating to the organization with the most popularity, we should start donating to organizations who are doing the most innovative work - organizations who combine structural change with wraparound direct services.


Yes, there are a lot of problems in the world. But I believe we can fix them if we try. We might not be able to see our impact right away, but I promise you that you can make a difference when helping those who need it most.


This is the third part of a four-part series on my journey into philanthropy as a millennial. If you missed the first two installments, read part one or part two here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Home of the Brave

by Brad Lash, Web Content Strategist


Land of the Free. Home of the Brave. Melting Pot. Land of Opportunity. With slogans like these, it comes as no surprise that people across the world are attracted to move to the United States. Our national rhetoric promises inclusion and equitable access to “The American Dream”, however the hardship and prejudice that today’s immigrants face when they arrive tell a different story.



I recently had the opportunity to visit Pui Tak, a grantee of the McCormick Foundation’s Communities Program. Pui Tak hosts English classes for adult students from East and Southeast Asia. I listened as immigrants from countries such as China, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia shared their stories. A strong common theme was their desire to create a better life for themselves and their families, whether they were in their twenties or seventies. Many of them work hard in low-paying laborious jobs. People make fun of their accents or tell them to go back where they came from, yet these courageous people press on like the generations of immigrants that came before them.


My grandparents moved to Chicago from Lithuania almost 100 years ago. My grandfather owned a gas station on the west side of the city and worked long hours to make sure my aunt and father could get college educations and not have to perform hard labor. Because of my grandfather’s hard work, my dad was able to attend college with financial help from the GI Bill after serving in the National Guard. My mother was a teacher with a Master’s Degree in Special Education and other advanced certificates in the field. Both she and my father worked hard to provide better opportunities for my sister and me. This instilled in us a strong work ethic which we applied to part-time jobs we had throughout high school and college to help support our family. I hope that future generations of our family can have a life that is easier still, and the children and grandchildren of today’s immigrant population can experience the same inclusion and opportunity to succeed.



The Chinese sometimes refer to the United States as “Mei-Guo”, which roughly translates to “beautiful nation”. People have been migrating to new lands for as long as we’ve existed as a species. We’re driven by the desire to provide a better life for ourselves and our children. As long as our country remains a land of opportunity, people will find ways to start a new life here. That drive and courage strengthens and diversifies our nation. We as Americans should not forget that many of our ancestors also started as immigrants and we should be proud to embrace their stories and the strength they provide.

Electing President Lincoln

by Jeff Anderson, McCormick Museum Tour Coordinator


This summer, the Robert R. McCormick Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois, obtained a painting by Chicago Tribune artist James Sessions. The painting depicts a meeting between Abraham Lincoln and Chicago Tribune editors, Joseph Medill and Dr. Charles Ray. Lincoln was seeking advice regarding a speech that he would be giving in New York the following year. This speech was famously known as the Cooper Union speech, which was considered to be one of his most important speeches of his career. Some historians argued that it was this speech that was responsible for his victory in the presidential election later that year.


Joseph Medill and Charles Ray were fierce advocates of Lincoln. Their allegiance was formed during the senate race against Senator Stephen Douglas. During that election the Chicago Tribune published several articles and editorials praising Lincoln.



On February 28, 1860, Lincoln delivered the Cooper Union speech in which he elaborated views on slavery affirming that he did not wish it to be expanded to the western territories and claiming that the majority of the Founding Fathers would agree with this position. This stance was in direct rebuttal to Senator Douglas’s most recent stance that the Founding Fathers favored popular sovereignty, under which settlers in each territory decided their own status as a salve or a free state.


When Medill and Ray finally read Lincoln’s speech, they noticed that nearly all of their advice and alterations were absent. Ray said “old Abe must have lost out the car window all our precious notes …”

Tis the Season to Give

by Jim Struthers, Chief Development Officer


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 who are less fortunate.


One way the Robert R. McCormick Foundation is lending a helping hand, is through our annual Holiday Campaign. Each year the Robert R. McCormick Foundation partners with six of our Fund Partners across the nation. In Chicago, Chicago Tribune Charities is raising funds for those in need across Chicagoland. The Los Angeles Times Family Fund is making a difference in the fight against illiteracy, homelessness and hunger. The Denver Post Season to Share, 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.



This year’s campaign, was inspired by a storytelling workshop in August, focusing on the stories of our grantees and their clients. Through dynamic photography and a comprehensive digital strategy, our goal for this year’s Campaign is $5 million over the course of 6 weeks. Additionally, giving to one of 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 non-profits to do so. All campaign and administrative expenses are paid, meaning 100 percent is granted to qualified local non-profits working to help low-income families, children and adults become increasingly self-sufficient.


Visit the McCormick Foundation’s website and follow along on social media with the hashtag #RewriteTheStory.

Veteran Faces

by Megan Everett, Veterans Program Director


The Robert R. McCormick Foundation recently granted nearly $1.2 million to eight nonprofits supporting veteran services, reintegration and public health initiatives in Illinois. To help promote the important work of these organizations, we are sharing short vignettes that capture how these organizations are impacting local veterans.


Since September, we have had the privilege to speak with four incredible individuals on how our partner organizations such as, National Able Network, Bunker Labs, Chicago Lighthouse, and Thresholds have helped them transition back into civilian life. The stories below reveal hardships, successes, and self-reflections faced by these veterans upon leaving the military.


To view the full interviews follow @McCormick_Fdn on Twitter and Like the McCormick Foundation on Facebook.



Deneen Gayles, National Able Network


I am a National Guard veteran. I retired in 2014 after serving in the military for nearly 30 years. I enlisted right after high school. Being in the military enabled me to get a college degree. While serving, I became a Certified Public Accountant.


Now that I am out, I am going back to school to get my MBA. These days, you really need an MBA to be considered a “good” accountant. My hope is by completing the MBA program, it will make me a more marketable candidate to future employers. I also hope it will help me to gain perspective on how to navigate the corporate culture. Since leaving the military, I have worked in a few different industries. Through each of those experiences I have had a difficult time fitting in. The military is a very team-oriented organization and that is not always the case on the civilian side.


A year ago, I came to National Able to get assistance assembling my resume and getting a tutorial on professional networking sites, like LinkedIn. LinkedIn has really been helpful for me. Since activating my account, I have been approached by numerous recruiters. I am not totally comfortable with social media—I don’t even have a Facebook account. My experience with National Able has helped me manage my professional identity, and to be more open to new opportunities that may be different than my experiences in the military.



Sandra Edwards, Bunker Labs


I am an Army Veteran, and now an entrepreneur. I own a rent-to-own tire financing company. My target market is individuals, mostly women, from low-income communities. I have been a small business owner for three years, and with The Bunker for one. Todd Connor, CEO of The Bunker, invited me to join The Bunker community a year ago. Since joining this vibrant community of veteran entrepreneurs, I have gained the confidence and knowledge that I need to be a successful, more strategic business owner. Most importantly, I am part of a community that wants to see me succeed.


Traditional business school courses teach you how to develop business plans and understand the technical side of running a business. The Bunker is different. It is an organization that helps to grow the individual, in addition to helping build a strong business model. Recently, William Blair, the global banking and investment firm, came to The Bunker to discuss different financial models. This is essential information to understand when working on a start-up. If you don’t have a goal and a path to get there, then you probably won’t. And through William Blair’s guidance, I have been able to figure out how to get there. This is a resource that I probably wouldn’t have had if not for The Bunker.


In short, I feel very blessed. I am. I used to be homeless, so there is nowhere for me to go but up.



William Bryant, Chicago Lighthouse


I served in the Marine Corps from ’82 to just close to ‘85. I was 17 years old when I enlisted. I chose the Marine Corps, probably because I was young and very petite – 120 pounds soaking wet. I wanted to participate in something that was going to challenge me, so I joined the Marine Corps.


While in the Marines, I served in Okinawa, Japan at Camp Pendleton, spent time in the Philippines, and got to see the world— I really enjoyed that. I was a heavy equipment mechanic 1342 and went to Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) in San Diego and came out the south side of Chicago.


In 1985, I was medically discharged –I was losing my eye sight. It was a rough year and transition. All at once, I was told I was going to probably lose my vision, and have to leave the one thing I really loved. At 20 years old I was asking myself, ‘what am I going to do now? I’m losing my vision, and don’t have a job.’ I decided to go to refrigeration, air condition, and heat school. I wasn’t ready to accept my impending fate. I was still kind of young and naive; really headstrong. At that time, I was still able to see but my night vision was starting to go.


After that career path, I decided to take another pivot and enrolled in mortuary school. I got my license as a funeral director and embalmer, but had trouble with low-light churches and driving. Long story short, that career did not work out for me.


As time went on, my eyesight started diminishing more rapidly. As a man I thought, ‘I can’t be cool, and be blind, carrying a stick.’ In 1994, everything changed. It was the year I started coming to the Chicago Lighthouse, and I have been with them ever since—nearly 22 years. Chicago Lighthouse has helped me to accept my condition and to find employment. Through Lighthouse’s guidance and support, I recently landed a position with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and the Veterans Call Center. I have now been there for 18 months. I was born to do this work, and I love it.



Todd McCoy, Thresholds


I have known about Thresholds for quite a while now. I was a member back in 1989, and participated in their programs for three years. In 2012, I needed help again and I went to NASH to see if I qualified for disability benefits, and they referred me to Threshold’s Veterans Project. It has been a lifesaver. This program is the catalyst that gets me up and out every day. And it gives me the tools I need to deal with my issues. And it gives me hope. If it was not for the programs and the support groups they offer, I don’t even think I would be able to keep my room or apartment. The meditation group, the drama group, and the beyond survival groups are the ones I participated in the most. There’s also a movie group that helps you get the meaning of the movie. The movies are very inspiring and ones that give you hope—they are the kind that give you the message that you can change and do better.


Thresholds has help me gain the confidence I need to succeed, given me a path to reintegrate into society, helped me talk more freely about myself, and has given me effective approaches to handle my feelings. Without their support, I would be lost. And I really believe that.

Monday, November 28, 2016

My Journey as a Philanthropist: Part 2

by Kat Birkenbeuel, Development Intern


Like most millennials, I have a desire to change the world. Yes, I know it sounds like a vague, lofty goal, but my generation is known for vague, lofty goals like this one. My generation is also known for slacktivism, a term I cringe at the thought of.


I cringe because I know my generation can be lazy and want gratification fast. But, I also know that we are some of the most giving, dedicated, passionate people in our country. Looking back at the past, every generation has seen their young people engage in social justice movements and philanthropic causes. While their funds were limited, their dedication spurred positive change.


I am inspired by the changes driven by past generations and the current work of grassroots organizations and large foundations alike. Yet, I think about the lack of financial resources that I have and wonder how much impact my small donation actually makes in today’s world. I wonder how I can engage in philanthropy with such a small wallet. It’s this weird combination of being inspired to create change, but apathetic because I think I can’t. I am happy to volunteer where I see an immediate effect of my time, but it takes longer to see the impact of a small donation.


As much as I would like to, I can’t afford to drop $100 at once as a donation. I’m a typical recent college grad, broke and living with my parents. However, I do participate in monthly giving. Parting with $10/month is super doable, so I give every month to a cause I love. It’s easy and makes me feel like I’m helping change the world, $10 at a time. At the end of the year, this totals to be a $120 donation! Everything adds up.


There are simple things you can do to save $10/month in order to donate it instead. Here’s what I do:

  • I pack my lunch a few times a week so that someone else can have a meal to eat.
  • I stay at home every once in a while to binge watch TV so that someone else might have a home themselves.
  • I walk to work instead of taking a cab so someone else can learn skills that help them find work.

Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to giving and I hope you’ll make a donation. But we shouldn’t just give on this one day only. Find an organization you love, pledge to donate $10 (or even $5) a month for the next year. Your philanthropy doesn’t end with Giving Tuesday- it begins there.


I’d like to believe millennials can be known as the Giving Generation. That starts by giving small to give big. That starts by engaging in philanthropy.


But it doesn’t matter what generation you’re a part of. History reminds us that we all have the power to affect positive change. What are you going to do?


This is the second part of a four-part series on my journey into philanthropy as a millennial. Read part one.

Monday, November 21, 2016

My Journey as a Philanthropist: Part 1

by Kat Birkenbeuel, Development Intern


When I was 8, my brother and I had our first lemonade stand. We spent one morning making lemonade and we set out to make a little money. The catch, however, was that all of our profits would be donated to charity. I can’t remember exactly who we donated it to; nevertheless, this charity lemonade stand began a summer tradition, attracting more neighborhood kids each time.


This venture sparked my desire to change the world. What an idealistic thought, right?


Throughout high school and college, I continued to volunteer wherever I could, eventually leading to a career in nonprofit. Now, this same idealistic 8 year-old still steers my career path, but with a great deal of guidance from my 22 year-old realist perspective.


I found myself at the McCormick Foundation with an internship. To be honest, at first I didn’t really understand what the Foundation did. Since most of my nonprofit experience had been with direct service organizations, a grant making foundation was definitely a different approach to nonprofit work than what I was used to. I knew that money was instrumental for organizations to be able to serve their clients, but as a poor, just-out-of-college young professional, I didn’t think philanthropy was something I could really engage in.


Wow, was I wrong!


Working in the Communities Program, I’m able to see how philanthropy makes a tangible difference in our communities. It is more than just granting out money. It is funding thoughtful projects to sustainably build up community organizations. It is thoroughly looking into organizations to see what their programs are doing, how they are helping and what impact they are making.


I see how philanthropy is sometimes this intangible idea to my generation. We don’t have a lot of discretionary income and donating is often our last thought. Yet, this internship has taught me that anyone can be a philanthropist. It’s not reserved for a later life stage or for millionaire tech gurus. It’s something that we all can and should be a part of. Every day, I see donations of $10-$25; these people aren’t donating thousands of dollars, but they are still philanthropists. I guess my 8 year-old self was a philanthropist, too.


While donations are one avenue of philanthropy, volunteering is another. Use your time and talents to give back to your community.

  • If you’re great at social media, contact a local organization and see how you can help!
  • Do you like to write? Are you great with a video camera and editing software? Offer to capture stories and effectively convey them to their desired audience.
  • If you have a closet full of clothing you no longer wear, donate them to local organizations rather than getting pennies for it at a resale shop.
  • Find a food pantry and volunteer to serve a holiday meal.
  • Volunteer to do some housework for an elderly neighbor.


We often think about giving around the holidays, but it isn’t just reserved for Thanksgiving or the month of December. Philanthropy is something we should engage in all year long. I encourage you to find an organization that you are passionate about, get involved and become your own philanthropist!


This is the first part of a four-part series on my journey into philanthropy as a millennial. Check back soon for part two.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

by Shawn Healy, PhD, Civic Learning Scholar


Election Day is here, and like me, many of you will have already cast your vote by the time you read this post, happy to check off this cycle’s thankless chore, having chosen the lesser of two evils. For even the most ardent of political junkies among us, instead of reveling in this great exercise of democratic governance, we’ll close our eyes after hours of election results and collectively exalt, “Good riddance.”


I’ve lamented before about the special challenges of teaching this election, so will pivot instead to the important work that lies ahead in our classrooms beginning tomorrow.


Tonight’s presidential outcome and control of the U.S. Senate promise to be closer than we anticipated even ten days ago. Many of our students and their parents will have supported or even voted for losing candidates. They may very well feel like doomsday has arrived. And many of their concerns and grievances are real.


But we cannot allow them to forget that the victors represent every one of us. I’m hopeful that olive branches are extended in tonight’s victory and concession speeches, as the peaceful transfer of power is one of the things that make America great.


Our founders were visionaries in designing a system where the sum of its parts is greater than any single leader. Checks and balances are well-established throughout our federal system, and divided party government is likely to continue in Washington and Springfield, instituting yet another protection against individuals and party platforms outside the boundaries of mainstream political discourse.


It’s incumbent upon tonight’s victors to build a bigger tent, where injustices experienced by communities of color are addressed alongside the economic anxieties of the white working class, where the retirement security of Baby Boomers is balanced with college affordability and employment opportunities among Millennials.


The challenges facing this country and state are too steep for the “us versus them” battles of this election and the dysfunction that preceded it to rage on. Therefore, we must reward our leaders for politically courageous acts, and vote those that place party or ideology above country out of office. And we must work hand-in-hand with elected and appointed officials from both parties to affect positive policy change as an exercise in self-government.


Whether we voted to “Make America Great Again” or concluded that we’re “Better Together,” the answer to our democracy’s wicked problems lies in our hands. As educators we play a profound role in our students’ civic development. In so doing, we empower them to build a more perfect union.


We salute you for the difficult work you have so faithfully pursued with your students this spring and fall. In an election without heroes, you, the great civics teachers of Illinois and the country, have saved the day.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Free Speech No Longer Ends at the Schoolhouse Gates

by Frank LoMonte, Executive Director, Student Press Law Center


The McCormick Foundation talked with Frank LoMonte, Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center (SPLC), on a bill recently signed by the Illinois Governor that protects First Amendment rights for high school journalists in the state. The bill would reverse the effects of the 1988 Supreme Court case Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, a decision that gave high school administrators the power to censor school-sponsored content if they had a “reasonable educational justification.”


McCormick: Tell us about the new law that was passed in July 2016 to protect high school journalists from censors.


LoMonte: In July, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a law (HB 5902) that protects high school journalists against censorship. The new mandate, introduced by Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-39), a former journalist, also prevents school administrators from retaliating against school employees for protecting a student journalist’s right to free speech. However, it does not protect expression that violates the law or threatens to incite a disturbance.



McCormick: This bill is part of a nationwide movement, New Voices. What is that initiative? What other states have implemented a similar measure?


LoMonte: New Voices is a student-powered grassroots movement, led by the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) that mobilizes coalitions of students, educators, lawyers and civic leaders across the country to pass common sense reforms that protect student journalists from censorship. This important movement was ignited after a group of students and their professor at the University of Jamestown took a stand against censorship of student journalists at their school. This effort eventually led to the passage of the John Wall New Voices of North Dakota Act in 2015. The law, which ensures free-speech rights of journalism students in North Dakota public schools and colleges, passed unanimously in the state legislature with strong support across the ideological spectrum.


After the North Dakota legislations, our phones were bombarded with calls from teachers and students from coast to coast saying "me next." Since 2015, both Illinois and Maryland have passed New Voices bills. This brings us to a total of 10 states that have statutes to protect students from censorship. There is legislation still pending in Michigan, Minnesota, and New Jersey. We expect to see at least four additional bills in 2017 and possibly as many as nine.


McCormick: What inspired you and the Student Press Law Center to fight so passionately for this legislation across the country?


LoMonte: All you have to do is spend a day answering the phones at the SPLC to realize how pervasive censorship is in our schools and how it can drastically impact school climate. We get hundreds of calls every year from amazing young people. One such individual is Abby Melton. Abby was a student journalist ordered by her high school principal to rewrite a quote that would portray her school and the administration in a better light. When she questioned the order, she was issued a disciplinary write-up, and the had her subsequent article about First Amendment rights in schools yanked from the publication because the school insisted that students relinquish their First Amendment rights once they enter the school.


This is just one of many stories that cross our desks at the SPLC. Censorship of student journalists is the "canary in the coal mine" telling us that that school leadership doesn't respect the input of students, parents, or teachers. There is academic research that shows teenage girls absorb a vast majority of school censorship and, in turn, learn not to speak up on issues affecting them and/or their communities. As educators and rights advocates, it is our job to coach young women to have the confidence, disposition, and ability to lead our newsrooms, schools and businesses, not to hold them back.



McCormick: Why is this law important for Illinois high school students?


LoMonte: Even though the law primarily benefits student journalists, it truly benefits everyone who is concerned about the quality of education in Illinois. Students are the "embedded journalists" on the front lines of education, and they're in a unique position to sound the alarm if their schools are dirty, dangerous or ineffective. In fact, it has become so difficult for professional journalists to get access to schools today that if student journalists can't blow the whistle on their schools' shortcomings, it's very likely that no one else will. School administrators are government officials, and if the First Amendment means anything, it means citizens get to criticize the performance of government officials and advocate for better government services, which is exactly what student journalists are trying to do every day.


McCormick: How are you going to ensure high schools adhere to this new law?


LoMonte: We're working in Illinois and in every state to keep these successful New Voices coalitions together and to keep finding new ways to engage them, standing guard to make sure press freedom exists in reality and not just on paper. But that's the constant challenge. California has had the nation's strongest press-freedom law since 1977 and it's still the state that produces the most complaints to our hotline, even today, because school administrators and their lawyers are so poorly trained when it comes to student rights. Ultimately, we need to work more closely with colleges, in Illinois and around the country, to ensure student rights are incorporated into the curriculum in a respectful way. That way, student rights are taught to every principal-in-training so these ideals are embedded into their practices when they become principals. I hope we don't need to bring cases to court to remind schools that the law exists, but we're fortunate to have a network of nearly 200 volunteer lawyers around the country who won't hesitate to defend student rights if the law is disregarded.


McCormick: How do you anticipate this bill will impact civic engagement among Illinois youth?


LoMonte: We've been letting schools get away with "low-impact civics" for way too long. Schools enthusiastically support civic engagement when civic engagement means playing a simulation game in a social-studies class, but when students actually try to engage civically on the issues on which they have a knowledgeable insider's perspective, way too many schools shut them down. Journalism is participatory civics. It's the way that young people first find out that there's a school board and a state legislature with enormous power over their lives, figure out how they work, and figure out how to explain those workings to the rest of the community. Censorship of journalism teaches the most toxic civics lesson imaginable—that you cannot criticize the government. We can't be surprised if schools are turning out civically disengaged students when that's their first interaction with government authority. The New Voices of Illinois law is going to make school a more empowering place for student voices to be heard.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

WWII Veterans Receives Legion of Honor Medal

In July, John Chrenka (age 94), WWII veteran from Berwyn, Illinois, received the Legion of Honor medal—the highest distinction awarded by France. This honor was given to him for his service in Omaha Beach and across northern France.


John Chrenka enlisted in the army in 1942 and served until the war ended in 1945. He accepted his medal from French Consul General, Vincent Floreani at the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.



During the ceremony First Division Museum’s Andrew Woods performed a song that Chrenka wrote as a young soldier in England. As Andrew sang, Chrenka remembered every single word of his song and, in a soft voice, began to sing along.


This is the latest honor for the already decorated Sergeant Chrenka who also has a Bronze Star and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.



Program Helps Close Summer Learning Gap

by Liz McChesney, Director of Children and Family Services, Chicago Public Library


According to the National Summer Learning Association, every summer, low-income youth lose two to three months in reading while their higher-income peers make slight gains. Most youth lose about two months of math skills in the summer. This phenomenon contributes to gaps in achievement throughout the child’s life effecting future employment, and college and career success.


To help reverse this discouraging trend in Chicago, Chicago Public Library (CPL), launched a 10-week summer learning program, Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge. This initiative provides opportunities for youth throughout Chicago to grow and learn while out of schools, including STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) programs developed in partnership with the Museum of Science and Industry.


Youth who enrolled in the Summer Learning Challenge–particularly the youngest and most engaged—showed 15 percent greater reading gains, and 20 percent greater math gains over and above their peers, according to a study done by Chapin Hall, a research institute at the University of Chicago.



CPL also hosted 20 Community Days in branch libraries where Bernie’s Book Bank distributed books to children who signed up for the Summer Learning Challenge. These events featured opportunities for the children to read, share and swap books as well as participate in a wide variety of activities. These events were open to families in the community as well as children who participated in the Summer Learning Challenge at neighboring community organizations including parks, day camps and preschools.


Chicago Public Library serves youth and families citywide located in 80 neighborhoods. With the support from the City of Chicago, local organizations, community partners and private donations to the Chicago Library Foundation, CPL has been able to grow the summer learning program exponentially over the last four years. Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge’s participation has doubled in the city, and in 2015 CPL served more than 99,400 children across Chicagoland.


Participants can sign up at their local library branch or find additional information at chipublib.org/summer.


The Chicago Public Library Foundation is supported through Cubs Care and Chicago Tribune Charities, funds of the McCormick Foundation.


The McCormick Foundation sat down with the five kids that participated in the Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge and shared with us their favorite books and why they were important to them. These are their stories:

Genevieve

McCormick: What is your favorite book?

Genevieve: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DeCamillo

McCormick: Why is it your favorite book?

Genevieve: It is my favorite because I find it very enjoyable and humorous, which the author, Kate DeCamillo, is clearly good at.

McCormick: What is your favorite part of the entire book?

Genevieve: I really like it at the end when Louisiana falls into the pond and then Raymie Nightingale rescues her.

McCormick: Who is your favorite character and why?


Genevieve: I usually like the main characters, but to be honest I really like the cat. He's this cat that Louisiana gave to the pet shelter, where they said he got killed. It was not a "very friendly" shelter, but then at the end of the book he returns. It is really unexpected! He reminds me of my friend's cat that died two months ago; he was a nice cat.

McCormick: Who would you recommend it to?

Genevieve: I would just recommend it to everyone. Though I assume people who have trouble fitting in would like it most becuase that's sort of what Raymie struggles with and Louisiana too.

William

McCormick: What is your favorite book?

William: Compass South by Hope Larson

McCormick: Why is it your favorite book?

William: It's a good story because at the end it has a happy ending. The twins have to go through hard times to then meet their dad at the end of the book. It's like an adventure to find their father. 

McCormick: What is your favorite part of the entire book?

William: My favorite part is at the end because the twins find their dad.

McCormick: Who is your favorite character and why?



William: My favorite character is Cleopatra, the girl. Because she is more defensive. When her brother gets in trouble a lot, she is the innocent one, but she defends him.

McCormick: Who would you recommend it to?

William: I would recommend it to my best friend because he likes graphic novels.

Aniyla

McCormick: What is your favorite book?

Aniyla: Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren by Barbara Park

McCormick: Why is it your favorite book?

Aniyla: I like her style and that she talks about her friends and that it it about her real life. It reminds me of me. When I was in kindergarten I used to dress up like her.

McCormick: What is your favorite part of the entire book?

Aniyla: When she and her friends start arguing about liking the same boy, Handsome Warren. They both like him.

McCormick: Who is your favorite character and why?


Aniyla: Junie B. Jones. I like her style and sometimes my mom will go and try to find her clothes for me to wear. My sister and I will dress up sometimes and my mom will record us when we act like characters in a movie.

McCormick: Who would you recommend it to?

Aniyla: I would just recommend it to my dad because he always asks me "Why are you dressing up?" and I tell him "because I like to dress up".

Edwin

McCormick: What is your favorite book?

Edwin: Weird But True: 300 Outrageous Facts by National Geographic Kids

McCormick: Why is it your favorite book?

Edwin: It has really cool facts in it like 'A lemur can weigh as little as five quarters or as much as a car tire, depending on the species'.

McCormick: What is your favorite part of the entire book?

Edwin: My favorite fact is, 'You can use Gatorade to clean your toilet.'

McCormick: Who would you recommend it to?



Edwin: Younger kids and maybe grown-ups because it gives them more information like "Some tarantulas are blue".

Ria

McCormick: What is your favorite book?

Ria: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

McCormick: What is your favorite part of the entire book?

Ria: A Nazi soldier sees a man riding a horse, so he asks a little boy who the man riding the horse is. The little boy says, 'the king.' The soldier then asks the boy where the king's bodyguards are and the little boy says, the whole of Denmark; anyone would die for him. I like this because people nowadays won't die for anyone. 

McCormick: Who is your favorite character and why?


Ria: Annemarie and her little sister, Kristen. She's very funny. One part in the book when Kristen and her friend, Ellen, were running back from school a Nazi soldier stopped them and asked them why they were running. He stopped them and tried to tough her [Kristen's] hair, but Kristie was very stubborn those days and she pushed back. I like her because she is strong and funny.

McCormick: Who would you recommend it to?

Ria: I would recommend it to my best friend, Annika. She is also very funny like Kristen. It takes place in World War II and I like it because it is very interesting and full of history.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Educate, Don't Incarcerate

by Janice Lombardo, Program Officer, Democracy Program


Schools should inspire learning, and offer a supportive and positive environment in which to learn. When students are punished for minor offenses by suspensions and expulsions, that out-of-school time creates more problems than it solves. Often, there are more effective interventions that address the root causes of behavioral issues. Students also have a greater chance of educational success the more time they are in school.


Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) is a youth-led, citywide collaborative dedicated to education justice and equity. VOYCE, a program of Communities United and a grantee of the Democracy Program, convened The Campaign for Common Sense Discipline that led the effort to pass SB 100 in 2015.



SB 100 limits the use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions at public schools (K – 12) in response to minor incidents. It ensures the most severe disciplinary consequences are used not as punishment, but only in order to preserve a safe and productive learning environment. The bill will especially affect students of color, students with disabilities, LGBTQ students, and English Language Learner students who are disproportionally affected by suspensions and expulsions.


In September 2015, the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research released a report that focused on the alarming number of suspensions in Chicago Public Schools. It highlighted that African American students are nearly three times more likely to be suspended than Latino students, and more than four times more likely to be suspended than white or Asian students. In addition, boys are much more likely to be suspended than girls.


In the future, students will receive the appropriate intervention and support they need while remaining in school. This legislation will help our most vulnerable students stay in school, and have the same opportunity as their peers to learn and develop the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become informed, engaged members of society.


VOYCE is working with groups across the state to ensure strong implementation of the new law. For more information, please contact Maria Degillo at maria@communitiesunited.org.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The First Amendment and a Tale of Two Protests

by Cassandra Solis, Digital Communications Intern


This past May, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) took to the streets to protest Governor Rauner’s delay in passing a budget for the 2016-2017 school year affecting the financial resources needed for Chicago Public schools (CPS) to start on time. Public officials may not be too happy about the demonstrations, but they have preserved the CTU’s right to protest; allowing them to assemble and organize a peaceful agenda.


Similarly, across the U.S./Mexico border – in the southernmost state of Oaxaca, Mexico— teachers took to the streets to protest the government’s education reforms. Sadly, the Oaxaca teachers experienced a very different outcome.


Here’s the breakdown…


In 2013, Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, proposed an education reform plan that included a provision that would have teacher evaluations dictate compensation and subsequently, terminate teachers who would not meet federal standards. In May of 2013, the CTNE issued a statement making the suggestion that testing occur with a ‘bottom-up’ approach and have the community and school administration work together to craft teacher evaluations.


Creative Commons Fair Contract Now by Brad Perkins is licensed under CC 2.0


This June, Mexico’s federal government opened fire on CTNE teachers and union activists who were protesting the education reforms. The Mexican government attacked protesting teachers anywhere from publicly shaming them in the streets through nonconsensual head shavings in the public plazas to imprisoning union leaders among other human rights violations. The results of this are heinous; nine killed and brutally murdered, twenty imprisoned, and many injured.


Creative Commons Yo Soy 132 by MaloMalverde is licensed under CC 2.0


Mayor Rahm Emmanuel may not necessarily support the CTU strike, however, his opposition is not faced with immediate life threatening consequences like that of Mayor Adolfo Gomez Hernandez, Mayor of Oaxaca, who has openly stated his support of the teachers’ demonstrations. This, he believes prompted the delivery of a homemade bomb to his office. Karen Lewis can champion the CTU views and clearly use her First Amendment right to freedom of speech and assembly. Lewis does not have to fear imprisonment for disagreeing with the state and protesting like Ruben Nunez, who heads CTNE.


The disjuncture between the federal, state, and local government in Oaxaca is astonishing, but illustrates why our Founding Father created the Bill of Rights. Where would we be without it? One just has to look at Oaxaca, Mexico and the protest that happened there.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Race and Healing in Chicago

by David Hiller, President and CEO


After the terrible events last week in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas, our country is shocked, saddened and deeply worried about where we are and where we are going as a nation. As a foundation in Chicagoland committed to strengthening our communities, we are reflecting on what we can do to help our community heal, build trust, and move forward.


The center of our problem is the failure of community itself, with the perception and fact that we are divided along racial lines, and that police and other institutions do not treat communities of color equitably, sometimes with violent and lethal consequences. This problem is as old as our nation, and is rooted in our long history of slavery, racism, and segregation, a legacy we have not fully confronted and certainly not solved.


At the McCormick Foundation we have over the past year begun exploring more intentionally how race and racial equity impact our communities, and our own mission to help make our communities better. We are benefitting on this journey from our work with community-based organizations and individuals who are living these issues daily. It is a journey we all need to travel together.


Even early on, we can see a number of related needs that must be addressed.

  1. Police accountability and community relations. We should support the public process of reconciliation, trust building, along with changes to improve police accountability and police community relations. Along with other foundations, we helped fund the Police Accountability Task Force that has made a very strong set of recommendations to deal with racism and bias in policing, improve accountability and transparency, and improve police community relations. We now need to develop and implement a process to make these changes in ways that build trust and confidence between the police and the people they serve and protect.
  2. Public safety and violence reduction. Heightened shootings and killings in our communities of color is the setting in which police and community interactions occur. This rising violence places greater demands on law enforcement at the same time that trust and confidence have been diminished. We should continue our support for violence reduction efforts in the neighborhoods, including measures that will build trust and support for the police.
  3. Strengthening Families in low-income communities of color. Deep poverty in our segregated communities on the south and west sides contributes in myriad ways to the racial divisions and disparities in education, employment, health, homelessness, and experiencing violence. We need to deepen city-wide efforts to help families and children in these communities, with an increasing emphasis on systemic level change that can have bigger long term impact. Creating jobs is especially important in these communities, where nearly half of African American young men between 16 and 24 are not in school and not employed.
  4. Democracy and Civics. The challenges we are facing are fundamentally about the effectiveness – and short-comings – of our civic and community institutions. Solutions will require active democratic participation, vigorous journalistic reporting, and more accountable and transparent government. Implementing the Police Accountability Task Force recommendations, in a process genuinely embraced and informed by our communities, will be critical.

Much of what our country confronts is part of our painful history of race and prejudice, and needs to be addressed in those terms. Our own work on racial equity is helping us build our capacity to work with others in the community to deal with these issues in open, honest and constructive ways. This is something we all need to do together, in the prayer that terrible events as we have seen in the past week do not happen again.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Transparency in Collaborative News Media

by Jennifer Choi, Program Officer


In May, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation partnered with Bloomberg Media and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to host a private in-person “Platforms + Publishers Roundtable” of influential platform representatives (Twitter, Facebook, Google, Medium, YouTube, LinkedIn) and large, medium and small news publishers to increase transparency, open lines of communication and build trust for more collaboration.


Key takeaways from the event:

  • Social media platforms want to collaborate better with news organizations. But they are also quite thinly staffed and struggle with operating in silos. The platforms will require improved coordination and communication to solve some of the consistency issues surfaced by news organizations.
  • Social media platform participants shared that one of the challenges to the transparency issue raised by news organizations was that at times the media coverage of social media platforms didn’t allow for social media platforms to more safely experiment and iterate without also having to address a PR crisis that might detrimentally affect their business. Social media platforms want publishers to also be more nuanced and offer more sophisticated reporting on their industry.
  • Many participants expressed appreciation for this convening by describing it as having a more problem-solving disposition than other similar convenings and even created a Facebook group for the cohort to continue to keep in touch.


The event took place at Bloomberg Headquarters in New York City, and was facilitated by MediaShift, a thought leader in journalism innovation/tech training and research. MediaShift and the McCormick Foundation worked to not only strategically select news organizations and platform participants that would best benefit from such a conversation, but also key leaders from all levels of the various organizations that would help to facilitate a constructive and substantive change-making conversation.



Attendees included representatives from national non-profit and for-profit news organizations (The Atlantic, The New York Times, ProPublica, National Public Radio, NBC News, Mic, CNN Money, Time Inc, Vox Media, Fusion) and local non-profit and for-profit organizations (Institute for Nonprofit News, Local Independent Online News Publishers, Philadelphia Media Network, Jersey Shore Hurricane News, Brick City Live, WBEZ, DNAinfo).


Foundation attendees additionally included the Joyce Foundation and Open Society Foundations.


The day started off with a call to action from CEO of Bloomberg Media, Justin Smith, and Global Head of Digital, Scott Havens, imploring social media platforms to increase access for smaller local news organizations with regard to distribution and revenue stream opportunities and partnerships for a better informed public and healthier democracy.


Presentations from Claire Wardle of Tow Center for Digital Journalism (Columbia University), platforms (Facebook, Medium, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn) and publishers (Jersey Shore, NBC News, DNA Info, Mic) followed. The rest of the day was dedicated to small group breakouts to come up with tactical solutions for partnerships.


Next step recommendations included having various cross-sector decision makers from platforms (engineers and sales representatives) to be included for system changes to be implemented in response to publisher needs. More training also on the local, smaller news organizations level, was identified as a key next step.


Many thanks for all the stakeholders involved that took the time and leap of faith to come together for a productive day.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Mikva Proved that Nobodies Are Somebodies

by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Civic Learning Scholar
 

The civic learning community in Illinois mourns the passing of Abner Mikva (1926-2016), a devoted public servant who co-founded the Mikva Challenge with his wife Zoe. The organization capped a half century career that touched state and national government, and all three branches of the latter. It’s work engaging young people in the political processes, both elections and public policy, allowed Ab to pass the baton to the next generation, and what a legacy he leaves.


The McCormick Foundation has proudly supported the work of the Mikva Challenge for the past 13 years. The organization played a key role in the expansion of civic learning both in Chicago and throughout Illinois, including the current #CivicsIsBack Campaign.


Whether it’s engaging students in campaigns on both sides of the aisle, training them to serve as election judges, or elevating youth voice through citywide and school based youth councils and committees, Mikva Challenge proved time and again that young people are not nobodies, but instead somebodies set at their own devices.


The work of the Mikva Challenge now transcends the City of Chicago, encompassing the suburbs, downstate, and even Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. Their “secret sauce” centers on “action civics,” a form of student-centered learning where students learn about the political process by serving as change agents themselves.


Action civics dovetails perfectly with the new civics course requirement in Illinois, specifically learning about government institutions, discussions of current and controversial issues, and service learning.


It’s fitting that Ab bid his earthly confines farewell on the nation’s 240th birthday. He served his state and country admirably and left us with the tools to form a more perfect union. We must accept this perpetual challenge with passion and integrity in the spirit of Abner Mikva.



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Supporting Veterans through Chicago's Faith Community

by Megan Everett, Veterans Program Director


Where does one go in times of struggle? Every person’s response is different based on their current and past experiences. This holds especially true for veterans returning home from service. The success of a veteran’s transition from military to civilian life is dependent upon a number of factors including length of service, and experiences during one’s service, family structure, resources available in the communities’ veterans are returning to, and much more. The question remains – with a varied veteran population, how can we best support successful transitions?


Rev. Oluwatoyin Hines of the Multi-Faith
Veteran Support Project, leading a Spiritual
Integration Training.

Last January, I wrote about the Foundation’s partnership with the Steans Center's Egan Office for Urban Education and Community Partnerships (UECP) at DePaul University to launch the Multi-Faith Veterans Support Project (MVP). For over a year, this initiative has been working to strengthen relationships between the Chicago faith-based communities and local social service organizations as a way to help ease transitions home. I am thrilled to announce that the McCormick Foundation will continue to work with DePaul by supporting a second phase of the MVP initiative.


In the last year, DePaul has identified four faith-based organizations and communities in Chicago to anchor this work including Lockhart Resource Institute in the Austin neighborhood, Apostolic Church of God in the Woodlawn neighborhood, Endeleo Institute in the Washington Heights neighborhood, and DePaul University in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. In each neighborhood, DePaul has provided community engagement training to cultivate clergy leadership’s participation in this program and to enhance connections between the faith-based community and local VA medical centers. Each of these sites has adopted strategic plans to create networks across the faith, behavioral health, and veteran communities


In the coming year, DePaul will identify two new community engagement sites to begin equipping more faith-based organizations with the skills and training they will need to address and understand veterans’ needs. Additionally, at these sites, DePaul will develop alternative safe healing spaces for veterans and formalize their psycho-theological curriculum for spiritual care for issues of moral injury, military sexual trauma, and veteran family healing. This important work is helping to bridge the military and civilian divide, and allowing veterans to receive both spiritual support and the health and social services they may need.


Follow the Multi-Faith Veteran Support Project on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about the initiative and its progress.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Downstate News Collaborative

by Jennifer Choi, Program Officer


In an effort to ensure news stories throughout the state are being shared regionally and nationally, seven public media stations across the state joined forces to start a journalism collaboration Under the working title, Illinois Newsroom.


Led by Illinois Public Media, the Illinois Newsroom will focus on covering education, public policy, and health and the environment. It will produce content for partner stations, in addition to, working with national syndicates, including PBS NewsHour and NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered.


The McCormick Foundation is funding the audience engagement and partnership strategy for this initiative. The strategy includes developing digital tools that connect users with content and one another. Additionally, hosting events, discussions and workshops for community members, civic leaders, students and journalists to establish meaningful relationship with downstate audiences.


“The face of journalism is changing but its critical role in democracy is not, said David Hiller, President and CEO of the McCormick Foundation. “The Foundation investment in the Illinois Newsroom shows our commitment to sustaining a strong local journalism ecosystem in Illinois.”

Reducing Violence and Creating Opportunities through Employment

by Carrie Thomas, Executive Director, Chicago Jobs Council


Unemployment for young black Chicagoans is staggering, damaging, and has solutions. Young adults 20-24 year olds in Chicago are more likely to be out of work and school than their peers in other large US cities, or the nation as a whole. (Graphic: Chicago Tribune)




The data comes from a report recently released by the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Great Cities Institute that found low-income black teens in the city are employed at an abysmal rate of 9 percent. It also revealed that the highest concentration of youth unemployment were in low-income and minority neighborhoods on the south and west sides of Chicago. Communities where resources are scarce.


These statistics are bleak but there are solutions.


One being to increase employment opportunities and resources in low-income communities. Research from the University of Chicago found that an 8-week, minimum wage, part-time job reduced violence by 43 percent for 16 months after the work experience had concluded for the youth involved in the program.



Not only do we understand the approaches that work, Chicago has a strong track record for putting them into action. Unfortunately, not to the scale needed for broader impact. During the recession, federal funding created hundreds of jobs in Illinois for unemployed resident creating positive benefits among all age groups; however, funding stopped after only one year. Every year programs like One Summer Chicago connect Chicago youth to employment opportunities during the summer months. But demand is high so only one out of every four candidates is placed.


Full year jobs and private sector opportunities for young people are also in short supply. Our efforts creating jobs for young people have been big enough to demonstrate their effectiveness, but too small to create the broad impact Chicago needs.


To maximize the benefit of these programs, they need both more funding, and strategic local targeting. Chicago Job Council (CJC) member organizations and community leaders across the city have been calling for greater investment for months, holding rallies, testifying at public hearings, and outlining ideas for reaching more young people.


Here are some approaches organizations can take to identify and recruit potential employees who are most at-risk of unemployment:

  • Partnering with community organizations and leaders working in communities experiencing high levels of unemployment and violence
  • Strengthening income eligibility requirements
  • Creating local in-person application opportunities in addition to online recruitment

Strategic investment in job opportunities decreases unemployment and violence, and provides opportunities for disadvantaged youth to thrive. It’s incumbent upon all of us to work together to create a more hopeful future for the next generation.


The Chicago Jobs Council is one of the many local nonprofits that receive funding through Chicago Tribune Charities, a Robert R. McCormick Foundation Fund.

Developing Strong Education Leaders in Illinois

by Christy Serrano, Program Officer


In 2010, Illinois became the first state to create a PreK-12 principal endorsement requiring preparation programs in early education, special education, and English Language Learning coursework and field experiences for aspiring school leaders. Those policy changes became law in 2010 and went into effect in 2014. With more than 860 school districts and 400 principal vacancies each year, these new requirements provide an opportunity to transform the principal pipeline in the state to ensure that school leaders demonstrate both managerial and instructional leadership skills.



Research commissioned by the McCormick Foundation on the implementation of the new requirements has identified some early concerns from principal preparation programs. One concern is that the more rigorous program requirements will lead to a decrease in the supply of principals in the state thereby negatively affecting districts and schools. While there is no data confirming this, it's a potential issue that may need to be addressed.


A recent white paper, released by Illinois State University on principal supply and demand, addressed these concerns and outlined what can and cannot be concluded from the available data. Researchers also provided recommendations on ways Illinois can create and sustain a healthy supply of high quality principals. Those strategies include:

  1. Developing a longitudinal data system that collects and stores a wide variety of metrics that can more accurately inform principal supply and demand
  2. Identifying regional differences in principal supply and demand, and distribute resources accordingly
  3. Establishing and implementing talent management efforts that improve requirement, selection, training and retention

Overall, principal preparation programs and school districts strongly believe that the new requirements will attract higher quality candidates and improve practices statewide. The Foundation’s education grantees continue to partner with private and public stakeholders on implementing a state plan to advance the preparation and development of future school leaders.


To learn more see ”Statewide Data on Supply And Demand of Principals after Policy Changes to Principal Preparation in Illinois.”

Coming Summer 2017! Major Updates to the First Division Museum

by Gayln Piper, First Division Museum


When visitors step into the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton next summer, they will be greeted by new, interactive exhibits celebrating all 100 years of the 1st Infantry Division’s history.


In early April, the First Division Museum announced the start of the redesign project that will update existing exhibits -- which span the period from the 1st Infantry Division’s inception in 1917 through the Vietnam War in 1970 -- and create new ones highlighting its more recent history.


While the footprint of the Museum will not change, visitors will see dramatic differences inside. Led by Luci Creative, the project will be divided into three areas: the existing 10,000-square-foot exhibit, which will be updated with revised text, updated artifact displays and new digital components; the 2,700-square-foot temporary exhibit area, which will be converted into a permanent exhibit focused on the 1st Infantry Division’s history after the Vietnam War; and the lobby.


The First Division Museum, which attracts about 170,000 visitors annually, will close its doors the day after Veterans Day, November 11, 2016, and remain closed until summer 2017. The reopening will coincide with the centennial of the 1st Infantry Division and World War I.


While a final design concept is still being determined, here is a sneak peek at what the space may look like after the redesign.



Thursday, April 21, 2016

Museum Director Visits Kuwait as 1st Infantry Division Provides Deterrence in Middle East

by Paul Herbert, Executive Director, First Division Museum at Cantigny


This is Sergeant Christopher Shouse, commander of a Bradley M-2A3 infantry fighting vehicle in A Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. He is one of the 3,000 soldiers currently serving with the 1st Infantry Division in Kuwait. As a Bradley commander, SGT Shouse is an expert on his vehicle and its capabilities.


Last week, I visited the 1st Infantry Division’s 2d Armored Brigade Combat Team (“2ABCT”) in Kuwait, one of America’s important strategic outposts. These 3,000 soldiers operate from Camp Buehring, an austere 9-or-so square mile patch of temporary buildings west of Kuwait City where there is literally nothing except desert and camels. All that desert makes excellent firing ranges and maneuver grounds that are in constant use. 


Such visible readiness helps deter any military threat or intimidation against Kuwait and, by extension, Saudi Arabia and other important US partners. The 2ABCT is also an immediate reaction force in the event of a crisis. The brigade’s primary mission, however, is military assistance to American partners within the US Central Command’s vast area of responsibility, stretching from Northeast Africa to South and Central Asia. 2 ABCT troops have aided the Iraqi fight against ISIS. They are in Jordan training the armed forces of that important state. They have been in Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. They work closely with the armed forces of their host country, Kuwait. From a pier at the Kuwaiti naval base in Kuwait City (one of many critical facilities secured in part by 2ABCT troops), I watched an endless string of oil tankers head down the Persian Gulf to energy consumers around the world and thought of the criticality of this volatile region. 


Sectarian and ethnic strife, struggles with modernity, autocracy, ancient rivalries, extremism, terror, weapons of mass destruction – these and more threaten the peace and stability of the region and its people daily. Helping mitigate such malign influences are these great troops. I went there to teach them some of their division’s important 99-year history, from World War I to the present. None of them seemed to think that their work is as important as those past conflicts, but I assured them that it is – and that we here at home are proud of them and grateful to them.


Just this morning, I turned on the news to hear President Obama explain our challenges and strategies in this region. I thought all the activities shared by the President are being carried out by these great service members.