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Showing posts from December, 2017

Building Cantigny's Future

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by Matt LaFond, Executive Director, Cantigny Park About a year ago, we announced major revitalization plans for Cantigny, the former home of Robert R. McCormick in Wheaton. We didn’t have a name for our project at the time, only big plans for the estate’s gardens, grounds and museums. Project New Leaf is still years from completion, but progress came quickly in 2017. Just before Labor Day, the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park reopened after a 10-month renovation. If you’ve had a chance to visit, we hope you agree that our world-class military museum is better than ever—as an educational resource and as a tribute to those who served or serve today. “Better than ever” aptly describes our goal for Cantigny Park overall. Through Project New Leaf, the McCormick Foundation is investing to ensure a superior guest experience for current and future generations of visitors. Colonel McCormick, our benefactor, would want nothing less. We honor and share his vision for Cantigny as a com

Schools Play Definitive Role in Students' Civic Development

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by Shawn Healy, Program Director, Democracy As a former high school teacher, I believe deeply in the premise that formal education can shape students’ civic development. The sustenance and success of our democratic experiment is dependent upon each generation being knowledgeable about both the issues of the day and the institutions of government, possessing the skills necessary to work together to resolve collective problems, and the belief that civic participation is both valuable and impactful. The Foundation certainly understands that schools play a vital role in cultivating engaged and effective citizens. In 2015, the Foundation and other statewide partners helped pass legislation that requires all high school students to complete a semester-long civics course effective with the Class of 2020. Through our statewide civic learning and engagement work, including the implementation of the new course and the Illinois Democracy Schools initiative, the Foundation provides guidance an

Building an Education Media Ecosystem in Chicago

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by Cornelia Grumman, Program Director, Education Too many compelling education stories in the Chicago area are simply not getting told. Stressed, constricted newsrooms have increasingly limited resources. Expertise in complex issue areas such as early education is in limited supply. Meanwhile, students, educators, and families stand at the center of sweeping changes that carry profound implications for our communities and Illinois’ future. Residents, thought leaders and policymakers need to hear – and be informed by – compelling accounts of what is happening inside classrooms, higher education institutions and community early learning centers, and how those stories illustrate larger systemic issues or trends. To help boost understanding of education issues, philanthropic, education and journalism leaders have come together to successfully attract Chalkbeat, an award-winning education news organization, to Chicago. Chicago, along with Newark, N.J., was selected by Chalkbeat’s nationa

Fighting on Both Fronts

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by Don Cooke, Senior Vice President, Philanthropy This year marks 100 years since the United States entered World War I. To commemorate this important event in our history the McCormick Foundation and WTTW partnered to present to the people of the region a series of five vignettes titled Chicago World War I Moments . This series highlights the many roles of Chicago and Chicagoans in the “war to end all wars.” Out of this project surfaced a remarkable, untold story of the 370 th Infantry Regiment, one of the only African-American regiments that fought in combat during WWI. Fighting On Both Fronts: The Story of the 370 th , a documentary produced by WTTW with the Foundation’s support, first aired on November 11 and tells the story of the nearly 3,000 unsung heroes, largely from Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, who fought in combat during WWI. They were men who believed that if they fought for the principles of democracy overseas it would translate to equality for them back h

New Program Strategy Helps Strengthen Chicagoland Communities

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Since February, the Foundation’s Communities Program has been working with more than 20 local and national organizations with expertise in poverty alleviation and race equity work to discuss ways to improve our grant and development strategies to achieve the greatest impact in the communities we serve. Through these discussions, we have decided to focus on (1) adopting a Race Equity lens, supporting programs and policies that respond to community voice and address the root causes of poverty and systemic racial bias and (2) develop a holistic grant framework that responds to the complex mix of barriers experienced in Chicago’s most under-invested communities. Recently, the Communities Program developed a new fund, the McCormick Foundation Communities Matching Fund , to help create long-lasting impact in Chicagoland communities. Through the Matching Fund, the Foundation, along with frontline community organizations and community partners, will work to fight hunger, homelessness, and

Making Illinois the Best State for Veterans to Thrive

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by Megan Everett, Veterans Program Director As 2017 quickly comes to a close, the Veterans Program continues to build and strengthen relationships with our grantees that serve veterans and military families through partnerships with Chicagoland businesses and nonprofits throughout Illinois. This year we have invested more than $2 million in Illinois-based organizations and national organizations that are doing this important work in Illinois. We strive to work alongside our partners, and public and private donors to support impactful work that best supports Illinois veterans. The McCormick Foundation Veterans Program supports high-quality, integrated, and coordinated services in the areas of education, employment, health and wellness, along with providing capacity and technical support for veteran-centered institutions. To ensure Illinois is the best state for veterans to come home to, we believe collaboration and coordination among partners, in addition, to delivering high-qua