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Democracy Program Grant Opportunity

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The EssentialsThrough 5pm CT on Monday, October 5th, 2020 the Democracy Program is accepting Letters of Inquiry (LOI) to support programs and organizations working in our three Focus Areas: Strengthen Local Journalism, Engage Youth Civically and Invigorate Public Institutions. Grant requests may be for work in any Focus Area and should be over $50,000.How to Apply for a GrantVisit the Democracy Program’s “Apply for a Grant” page where you will find our funding criteria (e.g. you must be a 501(c)(3)nonprofit), a timeline for our review process, and a link to the online portal through which you must submit your LOI.What is an LOI?The LOI is the first stage in our two-stage application process for evaluating grant requests. The first stage of the process serves as an introduction for the Democracy Program staff to your organization and the work you propose to undertake during the grant period and how it aligns with our strategy. The LOI provides helpful information on:Administrative Aspe…

Veterans Addressing Food Insecurities During COVID-19

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This article is the first in a series written by the McCormick Foundation’s Veterans Program, introducing topics that have impacted the Veterans Community in 2020. This article introduces the issue of food insecurity in the veteran community.
Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, the Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center had been closed for non-essential operations, including its food pantries, one of the first of its kind to open back in 1996. In response to the closure, a grassroots group of active veterans led by the Travis Manion Foundation began conversations to discuss emerging issues including food insecurity and how to reopen the facility.Hosted by the nearby First Immanuel Lutheran Church, a little more than a mile from the original location of the food pantry, the local community joined with veterans to provide prearranged food bags for veterans and nearby residents. Since May, the group has gathered on five occasions (with a sixth planned for late August) to …

Achieving the Civic Mission of News

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Mapping Chicago’s local news coverageIn the Democracy Program, we envision a day when all residents of the Chicago region will be informed and engaged citizens. To achieve this goal, we need to ensure there is sufficient high-quality, civically relevant, and personally resonant information available to each resident of our region.A new study by the Center for Media Engagement reveals topical and geographic gaps we need to fill in our information ecosystem to achieve this vision. It builds on earlier work and shows how these gaps align with low community confidence in the local news media.Understanding the gapsResearchers collected all articles published on the websites of 21 local news organizations over a two-week period. They then mapped the locations mentioned and the topics covered in each article. The research revealed a geographic imbalance in local news coverage. Chicago’s North Side and Downtown are mentioned more than twice as much as the South Side and more than five times a…

Medill’s Metro Media Lab Aims to Boost Local Journalism in Chicago

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Newspapers across the country have been in decline for decades and Chicago outlets have not been immune from precipitous drops in ad revenue and mass layoffs. But the region has been distinguishing itself nationally with its entrepreneurship in journalism. A new class of collaborative, equity-focused outlets are taking root in the region and attracting national attention with their commitment to listening and serving the public news they need to be civically informed. Innovative nonprofit and forprofit models are emerging to tackle the nation’s local news challenge, making Chicago a unique opportunity for research and partnership. Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications is taking an ambitious step to more deeply engage with Chicago’s information ecosystem and launching the Metro Media Lab, a comprehensive series of initiatives to support local outlets, journalists, and the public they serve. The lab is designed to help local ne…

Emergency Supplies For Childcare Providers

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As households and businesses reeled in the wake of COVID-19, families suddenly found themselves unable to find or afford urgent child care supplies such as diapers, wipes and infant formula. Even while closed, more than 100 child care agencies across the city with links to those families stepped in to help, first by documenting their families’ needs — sometimes weekly — then by putting out the call more broadly for supplies.Hoarding at grocery stores depleted child care and cleaning supplies, not only in Chicago but nationwide, and stores were unable to restock fast enough to meet demand. Working with child care providers such as the YMCA, Gads Hill and the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, as well as the City of Chicago’s Dept. of Family and Support Services (DFSS) and the Cradles to Crayons, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation helped mobilize both a volunteer drive and bulk-purchasing of emergency child care supplies.Cradles to Crayons, which provides families living in homeless o…

Chicago’s Peace Outreach Continues as Gun Violence Takes No Break

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Amidst the continual backdrop of COVID-19, Chicago’s plague of gun violence has raged on, and over several weekends spiked higher than previous years.Almost no other group is seeing the broad effects of these events more than the outreach workers of Communities Partnering 4 Peace, or CP4P, a city-wide collaborative of community-based organizations whose outreach teams are trained to prevent and intervene in violence using restorative de-escalation tactics. Coordinated by Metropolitan Family Services, the teams are in communities most impacted by violence.“When COVID-19 was on the rise in Chicago in early March, we saw our situation go from bad to worse,” said Vaughn Bryant, CP4P’s executive director. “Our teams were beginning to experience additional sadness, frustration, and anger as they themselves were having to deal with the virus while still managing to do their jobs to help curb shootings.” The outreach teams acted quickly and were prepared with the necessary PPE to maintain the …

Team Rubicon and local Veteran Service Organizations Respond to Veteran Needs

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The McCormick Foundation recently issued two grants to address the needs of veterans amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. is a rapid-response veterans’ organization that mobilizes veterans to help people prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and humanitarian crises. Their “Whole of America” initiative is executing operations and logistics at local food banks, pantries, testing centers, and COVID-19 quarantine shelters in Chicago.are collaborating to re-open a food pantry that had been operating in the Jesse Brown Veterans Hospital and had to be closed due to the pandemic. Additionally, a rapid response fund for veterans is being established to help maintain stability during this economic hardship. More details will be shared once the rapid response fund is open for applications.