2016 Review of the McCormick Foundation and Cantigny Park.
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Robert R. McCormick Foundation

2016 Year in Review

Dear Friends of the McCormick Foundation,

Last year was difficult and tumultuous for our nation and our local communities. The unusually contentious national election, political gridlock in our state capital, and an escalating crisis of gun violence in Chicago neighborhoods make deeply challenging times.

In such times, however, people of hope and good faith continued the work of trying to make things better. We are honored to work with many such people and community groups, and their passion, faith and courage is good cause for hope in our future together.

Included here are some highlights of this work, with thanks to all our partners and friends who inspire us every day.



David Hiller
President and CEO


Left to right: Board of Directors members Scott Smith, Don Wycliff, Ruthellyn Musil,
Dennis FitzSimons (Chairman) and John Madigan, and President and CEO David Hiller.

Grantmaking Programs


The Foundation continues its focus on helping low-income families and children realize their full potential. With money raised through fundraising efforts and matched by the Foundation, the Communities Program invested in programs addressing hunger, homelessness, health, education, and family strengthening.

In Chicago, through Chicago Blackhawks Community Fund, Chicago Bulls Community Assist Fund, Cubs Care, Chicago Tribune Charities, Chicago White Sox Community Fund, and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago we raised $7 million and granted out $11 million to non-profits helping families and children in our most at-risk neighborhoods. Through partners in Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York and Orlando we raised $5 million and granted out $8 million.

For a second straight year, we served as fiscal sponsor for Thrive Chicago, a collective impact initiative bringing together all of the public and private organizations serving kids from cradle to career. January 2017 marks their launch as a fully independent organization, dedicated to overseeing a citywide effort to prepare youth for a bright future.


The Foundation also served as fiscal sponsor for the One Summer Chicago youth jobs program, supported by $10 million from public donations.

The Foundation deepened its connection with the Englewood and Little Village neighborhoods in Chicago through a “place-based” approach to building stronger communities. In each community we work closely with local organizations to identify priorities for improving the quality of life for the neighborhood.

In Englewood, we partnered with Teamwork Englewood in their goal to reinvigorate the community by working with local residents, developers and businesses to build a thriving, sustainable community. Our support of Enlace's Little Village Education Collaborative helped bring together leaders, residents,  and local public schools and service organizations to share resources and opportunities, improve educational attainment, and advocate for policies that meet the educational needs of all Little Village residents from early childhood through adulthood.




Building on the 2015 landmark legislation bringing civic education to every Illinois high school, efforts in 2016 turned to implementation. With help from the Foundation and a coalition of funders, schools across the state began to introduce coursework, programming and teacher professional development to prepare students for their role as active citizens.

The program added 13 new high schools in the Democracy Schools network, a cohort that now includes nearly 60 schools that are models of high quality civic learning.

An important part of civic learning, especially in an era of rising "fake news," is the ability to assess what is credible and what is not - what we call News Literacy. The News Literacy Project launched a new digital initiative that can help bring these skills to students across the country, and there are also great resources at the News Literacy Center at Stony Brook.

Quality journalism has likewise never been more important. The Foundation supported the growth of new independent, non-profit news agencies in Chicago and across Illinois through City Bureau and the Illinois News Room.



The Education Program in 2016 refreshed its strategy to focus on two key goals: moving all children in Illinois toward kindergarten readiness and 3rd grade proficiency in literacy and math. The program today supports systemic efforts to develop more outstanding leaders, quality teachers and engaged families.

Among those organizations helping to lead the way is the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, through its "Y Essentials Quality Initiative", fueling vital improvements in early learning education programs for children.

Additionally, Erikson Institute launched a project featuring the Early Development Instrument (EDI), an assessment tool that will help communities measure how young children are developing and advocate for more effective early childhood policies, systems and resource allocation. The first two communities named in fall 2016 were East St. Louis and Kankakee. Erikson will select an additional four communities from across Chicago and Illinois in spring 2017.





Illinois has the potential to be the best state for Veterans returning from active duty. Funders including the McCormick Foundation supported the creation of a detailed research study of Chicago-area veterans to present a much more accurate picture of the issues veterans face.

The Foundation will use the study to continue shaping its strategy around Veteran education and employment, wellness, and transition to civilian life. Organizations helping veterans with jobs include the Commercial Club of Chicago, through its initiative focused on Veterans recruitment and retention, and National Able Network supporting placing veterans in jobs throughout the region. The Foundation continues its work in Veterans mental health through its Welcome Back Veterans partnership with Major League Baseball and local organizations including Thresholds and Rush Medical Center.

Through collaborative work with organizations, including Illinois Joining Forces and our local faith community, we can and must improve the lives of our veterans who have given so much for all of us.



Cantigny Park

With nearly 370,000 visitors in 2016, Cantigny Park, the former estate of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, remains one of the most visited parks in the state. Cantigny Park finalized planning for an historic revitalization effort beginning in Spring 2017 to renew the gardens, and facilities for the enjoyment of generations to come. More news will be shared in the coming weeks.

We also began a redesign of the First Division Museum, including a new gallery that will feature the story of the First Infantry Division since 9/11. The museum will re-open next summer in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Division's formation to fight in World War I. If you haven’t been to Cantigny in a while, we invite you to come see all the exciting changes.


Cantigny Golf

Cantigny Golf, owned by the Foundation and managed by KemperSports, is widely regarded as one of the finest public golf facilities in the Midwest. In 2016, Cantigny Golf's youth clinic programs taught more than 1,500 junior golfers, including children as young as age 5. With its successful caddie program, deep commitment to amateur golf, and consistent recognition for service and course ratings, Cantigny Golf remains a favorite to golfers throughout the tri-state area.


Through our philanthropic and educational initiatives, and at Cantigny Park, the Foundation makes significant investments in our mission of fostering communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens.

In 2016, these investments totaled $77 million and included more than 700 grants.



Total Grants


$77 million

Dollars Granted

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