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Showing posts from 2018

Transforming the Early Education Workforce

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After recently supporting the production of Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce: A Call to Action for the State of Illinois, the McCormick Foundation’s Education team is now working in coordination with Cathy Main from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development to communicate the report recommendations to the broader early childhood community. We will be hosting conversations around the state to get stakeholder feedback, and will be coordinating with other workforce initiatives to create a statewide action plan aimed to improve quality and increase compensation for early childhood educators.

VA Delays Paying GI Benefits to Student Vets

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This fall, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) left thousands of veterans and military families using the GI Bill waiting longer than normal for their tuition payments and housing stipends. These delays left many veteran students own their own to find alternative ways to cover their rent and other living expenses, in addition to sometimes facing penalties from their schools. This goes against the original goal of the Bill, signed into law in 1944, “to provide immediate rewards for World War II veterans including making low-interest mortgages available and granting stipends covering tuition and expenses for veterans attending college or trade schools.” Much has changed since the initial passage of the law.Understanding the new challenges facing post-9/11 veterans, Congress amended the bill in 2008 to greatly expand the benefits offered through the bill including a housing allowance, book stipend, and other additional benefits. But, like with most things, the ticker tape parades ende…

#CivicsIsBack in Illinois Schools

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On August 21, 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed bipartisan legislation requiring high school students to successfully complete a semester of civics prior to graduation. The law took effect at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, but the McCormick Foundation’s leadership and support of course implementation efforts began upon passage.The absence of state funding for implementation necessitated the commitment of private dollars. The McCormick Foundation has long invested in school-based civic learning and rallied the local philanthropic sector to raise an additional $1 million for implementation annually over three years to underwrite the #CivicsIsBack Campaign. Funding partners include Allstate, Boeing Corporation, Chicago Community Trust, Crown Family Philanthropies, Joyce Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and Spencer Foundation.Teacher professional development is central to the #CivicsIsBack Campaign given the new course requirement and the proven civic learning prac…

Engaged Grantmaking: Collaborating with Communities

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More funders are finding ways to promote the voice and leadership of the communities they partner with and serve by engaging them in the grantmaking process. This process, often referred to as participatory grantmaking, helps shifts the traditional power imbalances that exist in philanthropy by engaging the grantees who are affected by the issues that funding is addressing in the decision-making process for grants. For some foundations, this means including grantees in the process for setting priorities, developing strategies, conducting research, and sitting on boards or advisory councils. While others are using various elements of participatory grantmaking approach based on what their institutions, polices, and structures will allow. At the core of this practice is understanding that those closest to the issue, including those with lived experience, have the knowledge the solve the challenges. In the last year, the McCormick Foundation’s Communities Program embarked on its own j…

A Garden Colonel McCormick Would Have Loved

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When military veterans gather at Cantigny it’s usually in or outside the newly renovated First Division Museum, a monument to those who served. But during the growing season you’ll now find some veterans behind the park’s massive greenhouse as well.They come to learn, and they come to grow. It’s mostly about vegetables, but also camaraderie and mutual support. Welcome to the Veterans Garden at Cantigny, located between the greenhouse and Roosevelt Road. Established in 2016, regular visitors would never know it’s there. The garden is a fenced-in series of circular raised beds, or “pods,” where local veterans from various eras—usually about a dozen—spend Saturday mornings getting their hands dirty and sharing stories about their service time or anything else that comes up. This is social gardening at its best. Along the way, the vets produce some mighty fine tomatoes, peppers, squash, carrots, beans, beets and zucchini.To be sure, it’s not beginners luck. The green-thumb wannabees are g…

Stop and Frisk Only Hurts Black and Brown Communities

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by Anna LauBach, Director of Special InitiativesPatrick Sharkey, in his book An Uneasy Peace argues that Stop and Frisk policies did much to damage if not ruin any trusting relationship between police and the communities most impacted by violence. Stop and Frisk is the practice by which an individual can be stopped by the police if the officer has reason to suspect a crime has been or is about to be committed, and then frisked if there is suspicion he/she is carrying a weapon. Before it was ruled unconstitutional in 2013, Stop and Frisk was disproportionately carried out in black and brown neighborhoods where citizens, especially young men, suffered dire consequences. Data from New York City show that at the height of Stop and Frisk in 2011, over 685,000 people were stopped by the police, 88 percent of whom were completely innocent, 53 percent were African American, 34 percent were Latinx, and 9 percent were white. As is becoming more widely acknowledged, violent crime in the country’…

Universal Preschool Rolling Out in Chicago

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by Cornelia Grumman, Director, Education ProgramOver the last 15 years, Chicago has made gradual steps toward making sure all children in the city receive half quality early childhood experiences. Half-day kindergarten gradually was expanded to full-day kindergarten. Then half-day PreK programs were incorporated into schools, and many of those were expanded to full-day, responding to the needs of working parents.This summer, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he would make full-day preschool in the city universal to all 4-year-olds, regardless of family income. The phase-in would be gradual, so that by 2021, any family who opts to have their child attend PreK could access it, free of charge. This could spell savings of thousands of dollars for many working families who have found early education to be essential for children, but increasingly burdensome on family income. City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made the announcement earlier this summer at a gathering at Truman College, one of the …

Addressing Intentional Violence and its Root Causes

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by Kate Dohner, Senior Writer, University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences DevelopmentViolence in Chicago has become a national headline: “More Than 100 People Were Shot in Chicago Over the Fourth of July Weekend” (Time), “3-year-old boy among 7 wounded in Englewood shooting” (Chicago Sun Times).The University of Chicago Medicine seeks to change this story. With one-third of the City’s homicides and violent crimes occurring within five miles of its campus, UChicago Medicine has the opportunity to not only deliver much-needed care to survivors of intentional violence but to become a proving ground for evidence-based interventions that reduce the number of patients who experience repeat violence.Since opening in May 2018, UChicago Medicine’s Adult Level 1 Trauma Center has had more than 700 patient encounters, an average of 10 patients per day. Of those, 40 percent were directly related to community violence.Recognizing that the epidemic of intentional violence calls for mor…

Remembering the Great War

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This summer, the United States is observing the centennial of World War I. Late to the war in 1917, the fledging American Expeditionary Forces needed a year before any were combat ready. The first American battle was fought by the US First Division at Cantigny, 75 miles north of Paris, from May 28-31, 1918. As it unfolded, the Germans attacked along the Marne River and nearly reached Paris. However, the US 3d Division entered the fray at Chateau-Thierry. Immediately to the north, the US 2d Division with its brigade of Marines did likewise at Belleau Wood. With the Germans halted, the Allies went over to the counter-attack, not stopping until the Germans agreed to an Armistice on November 11, 1918. At Soisson and St. Mihiel, American doughboys made the critical difference. From September 26, 1918, to the Armistice, the United States fought its largest battle ever, between the Meuse River and the Argonne Forest in Lorraine. If all the 320,000 US casualties of the Great War were assigne…

Readjusting to Civilian Life

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by Emanuel Johnson, Program Officer, Veterans Program Some would believe the toughest transition a veteran experiences is entering the military. Would you believe that returning home is much harder than leaving? Every year over 250,000 men and women return to civilian life not only seeking a new sense of purpose but a job, a way to connect to their community, and positive opportunities to reconcile the actions of their service with the person they want to become. Only seven percent of America’s current population has served leaving many of our veterans returning home to communities that don’t understand their service or what opportunities exist after. Within that seven percent exist minority groups that face far more significant barriers to returning home. According the VA, women veterans are two to four times as likely as their non-veteran counterparts to experience homelessness, two times as likely to be using SNAP benefits than male veterans (13.0 vs. 6.3%) and have a yearly medi…

Census 2020: The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher for Illinois

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by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Director, Democracy ProgramEvery 10 years, Americans are asked to fill out and return their Census questionnaires. It's an important decennial event, given that population counts guide billions in federal spending, determine congressional apportionment, and play a key role in shaping future policies.Yet vast segments of the population often fail to respond. Greater racial and ethnic diversity, more nontraditional living arrangements, elevated poverty rates and a litany of other factors are also putting more people at risk of not being counted in 2020. These challenges, alongside other national administrative concerns, have major implications for residents and communities in Illinois. The Census Bureau’s goal is to “count everyone once, only once, and in the right place,” but this is easier said than done. According to the Funders Census Initiative 2020, during the 1940 Census, 453,000 more men registered for the military draft than were reflected in the ce…

Kindergarten Readiness Data in the News

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“Three out of four Illinois kids are not ready for kindergarten.” – KIDS Report Observational Survey Tool. The Kindergarten Individual Development Survey, or KIDS, is an observational survey tool used across the state to assess the readiness of incoming kindergarteners. The KIDS program, which kindergarten teachers began using statewide in 2017, focuses on four key domains: Approaches to Learning and Self-Regulation; Social and Emotional Development; Language and Literacy Development; and Cognition: Math. KIDS recently released its comprehensive 2017 data, revealing that 3 in 4 children are not ready for kindergarten. The McCormick Foundation's Education Program is dedicated to ensuring that Illinois' youngest residents arrive to kindergarten fully prepared to thrive in school. Learn more about the 2017 KIDS Data here:WBEZ
Just 24 Percent of Illinois Kindergartners Ready for SchoolChalkbeat
Three out of Four Illinois Kids Aren't Ready for KindergartenChicago Tribune Editori…

Taking Informed Action, Part 4 of 4

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Foreword by Sonia Mathew, Civic Learning ManagerOver 225 attendees participated in the Democracy Schools Network Convening which took place March 8-9th in Naperville, Illinois with the theme “Informed Action for Equity”. This year, we recognized and celebrated 13 new Democracy Schools that joined the network. The Network now encompasses 67 high schools with representation in Chicago, its surrounding suburbs, the Metro East region outside of St. Louis, and both Central and Southern Illinois.Network members and civic learning partners presented many workshops related to our theme. Pleases enjoy reading reflections from DSN members on various breakout sessions from the convening. These reflections focus on fostering civil discourse and strengthening student voice. Upstanding: What it Takes to Choose to ParticipateTracy Freeman, Social Studies teacher/chair, Normal West High School, Democracy Schools Network Advisory Council memberPracticing what he preached Wayde Grinstead had those who …

Taking Informed Action, Part 3 of 4

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Foreword by Sonia Mathew, Civic Learning ManagerOver 225 attendees participated in the Democracy Schools Network Convening which took place March 8-9th in Naperville, Illinois with the theme “Informed Action for Equity”. This year, we recognized and celebrated 13 new Democracy Schools that joined the network. The Network now encompasses 67 high schools with representation in Chicago, its surrounding suburbs, the Metro East region outside of St. Louis, and both Central and Southern Illinois.Network members and civic learning partners presented many workshops related to our theme. Pleases enjoy reading reflections from DSN members on various breakout sessions from the convening. These reflections focus on addressing civic learning across the curriculum, a key component of being a Democracy School. Literacy is PowerJay Mehta, English Teacher, Wheaton North High School, Democracy Schools Network Advisory Council MemberA day filled with educators creating conversations about democratic …

Taking Informed Action, Part 2 of 4

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Foreword by Sonia Mathew, Civic Learning ManagerOver 225 attendees participated in the Democracy Schools Network Convening which took place March 8-9th in Naperville, Illinois with the theme “Informed Action for Equity”. This year, we recognized and celebrated 13 new Democracy Schools that joined the network. The Network now encompasses 67 high schools with representation in Chicago, its surrounding suburbs, the Metro East region outside of St. Louis, and both Central and Southern Illinois.Network members and civic learning partners presented many workshops related to our theme. Pleases enjoy reading reflections from DSN members on various breakout sessions from the convening. These reflections focus on addressing issues of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — a necessary step in working towards eliminating the civic empowerment gap. Woke or Broke: Grayslake North High School's Journey Toward Diversity, Inclusivity, and Civic DiscourseJason Janczak, Social Studies Department Chair, …

Fighting for Human Rights in Illinois

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When 18 national and local grant makers join forces, the result is $1.1 million to fuel 37 cutting edge immigrant and refugee organizations. While the fundraising number is always reported, the story at the heart of the Illinois Immigration Funders Collaborative (IFC) is the work of front line organizations ambitiously strengthening our state. What follows are examples of three agencies within the collaborative working tirelessly to serve, organize, and advocate for marginalized, scapegoated, abused, exploited, and mistreated communities. In recent decades, there has been a rapid influx of immigrants moving to the suburbs of Chicago, largely due to an increase in jobs and a lower cost of living. Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project (SSIP) led by two young immigrants, Jose Eduardo Vera and Elizabeth Cervantes, help suburban immigrants access the tools and information needed to effect change and become leaders in their communities. Because of the work done by SSIP, more suburban immigr…

Shining Light, Telling Stories, Having Impact

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The Social Justice News Nexus at Medill partners with journalists to explore issues impacting Chicago communities.by Kari Lydersen, Interim Director of Social Justice News NexusWhen Adriana Cardona-Maguigad walked around the Back of the Yards neighborhood where she was editor of a community newspaper, she would often chat with people living on the streets or in abandoned buildings. She was surprised to hear that many of them had Puerto Rican accents, since the Southwest Side neighborhood has a largely Mexican immigrant population. Cardona, who moved to the U.S. from Colombia as a teenager, started asking more questions. She began uncovering a strange and troubling story: many of the men and women had come to Chicago from Puerto Rico to live in unlicensed drug treatment centers housed in storefronts and residential buildings in Back of the Yards and surrounding immigrant neighborhoods. And some of them had been sent by Puerto Rican government authorities. Around this time Cardona was s…

McCormick House at Cantigny Park Hosting Civic Awareness Series

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Some connections are just meant to be. That seems to be the case with Cantigny Park’s McCormick House and the League of Women Voters of Wheaton. The two struck a partnership last fall, launching a Civic Awareness Series based on a common interest in encouraging local participation in the democratic process. The series features monthly gatherings with guest speakers inside McCormick House, the former home of Cantigny’s benefactor, Robert R. McCormick. Appropriately, the proceedings take place in Freedom Hall, the mansion’s impressive library. Meetings begin at 7 pm and are free to attend, including parking. “We are delighted to be partnering with the League on this series,” said Will Buhlig, interim director of McCormick House. “Civics education and community participation were important to Colonel McCormick, so I think he’d be delighted as well. The Civic Awareness Series also fits with our goal of using McCormick House for community learning opportunities.”Meetings so far in 2018 have…

Taking Informed Action, Part 1 of 4

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Foreword by Sonia Mathew, Civic Learning Manager Over 225 attendees participated in the Democracy Schools Network Convening which took place March 8-9th in Naperville, Illinois with the theme “Informed Action for Equity”. This year, we recognized and celebrated 13 new Democracy Schools that joined the network. The Network now encompasses 67 high schools with representation in Chicago, its surrounding suburbs, the Metro East region outside of St. Louis, and both Central and Southern Illinois.Network members and civic learning partners presented many workshops related to our theme. Pleases enjoy reading reflections from DSN members on various breakout sessions from the convening. These reflections focus on service learning, one of the six proven practices for civic learning recommended by the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools. Beyond the Soup KitchenJamie Nash-Mayberry, Social Studies Teacher, Shawnee High School, Democracy Schools Network Advisory Council MemberBeyond the Sou…