Journalism Program

In September 2014, the McCormick Foundation announced the merger of two of its programs—The Civics and Journalism programs—and will launch a new combined program in 2015.

This united program will combine the work that affects the functioning of our democracy, including a free and active press, educated and engaged citizens, and accountable government. The Foundation expects new and enhanced grantmaking opportunities presented by this change, coming at a time when the effectiveness of democratic government is under great challenge.

Currnet grants from the Foundation are unaffected. Radical changes to our grant making strategy are not expected, but new ways to achieve greater impact will be explored. The Foundation will continue to review its grant making strategy in the coming months. Revised guidelines will be available in spring 2015.

For more information, please contact John Sirek at

The Journalism Program seeks to increase civic engagement by strengthening the quality of journalistic content, enabling audience to become smarter news consumers and protecting press freedoms that promote government accountability.


In 1994, the new McCormick Journalism Program started its formal grantmaking. A $1 million gift to New Directions for News became the first in a series of Foundation investments to help the news industry prepare for the new millennium and adapte to technological advances. In honoring the journalistic legacy of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the Foundation Board said "it was critically important for journalism to find new ways to grow, adapt and prosper through unprecedented and accelerating change."

Two decades later, McCormick has awarded grants of nearly $120 million in such areas as leadership, diversity, press freedoms, mid-career training, journalism education and news literacy.

Our Approach

We believe a strong and free news media providing citizens with the information they need to make reasoned decisions is critical to a healthy democracy.  In support of this objective we focus on three key areas:

  • Educate audiences to understand and appreciate the value of news.
  • Invest in training and educating journalists in pursuit of relevant, quality news content. 
  • Protect press freedoms and public access to information.

The McCormick Foundation Journalism Program aims to bolster a more informed citizenry by investing in quality news content and educating people—especially students—to better appreciate the importance of news. We also are dedicated to protecting press freedoms that align with the Foundation-wide commitment to civic education, access to public information, watchdog journalism and good government.

We are especially interested in working with journalists and news consumers in underserved communities.

We support grantmaking initiatives in News Literacy, Education & Training and Rights/Access & Accountability. Please note that our grantmaking strategy now includes more Chicago investment and increased support for news literacy through our WHY NEWS MATTERS initiative. We place a strong emphasis on performance evaluation and impact of programs. Finally, we are active in coordinating funding and field-building collaborations and partnerships.

Review our section to see how your organization can join with us to improve communities here in Chicago and across the country through attention and action to our initiatives.

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Robert R. McCormick Foundation
205 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 4300
Chicago, IL 60601

Phone: 312 445 5000
Fax: 312 445 5001