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Robert R. McCormick banner illustration with various scenes from his life.

Our Mission

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation invests in organizations working to build thriving communities where all individuals have the resources and opportunities to succeed, without regard to income, race, ethnicity, gender, or ZIP code.

A Look Through the Decades


Robert R. McCormick passes away on April 1, 1955, creating the Robert R. McCormick Charitable Trust (today’s Foundation). The Trust makes its first grants in 1956 for military college scholarships and to Chicago Boys Club, Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital, Fourth Presbyterian Church and Northwestern University.

Funeral of Robert R. McCormick, 1955


In 1957, the Trust gives $400,000 to Northwestern for construction of the Robert R. McCormick Hall at the School of Law. In 1958, Colonel McCormick’s former Wheaton estate opens to the public as Cantigny Park.

Fisk Hall, McCormick School of Law, Northwestern University, Chicago campus


The First Division Museum, with exhibits tracing the distinguished history of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, opens in 1960 at Cantigny. Later in the decade, noted landscape architect Franz Lipp designs and installs elaborate display gardens on the Cantigny grounds.

First Division Museum exterior and artillery piece, ca. 1960


By the late 1970s, the Trust quietly has distributed almost $50 million. Some of the largest support is given to universities, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry.

U505 Submarine being moved indoors, Museum of Science and Industry


In 1986, Trust assets total more than $500 million. Annual distributions reach nearly $23 million with the Trust continuing its longstanding support for journalism, Chicago-area YMCAs, and cultural and educational institutions. The Trust also increases support for Latinx organizations.

McCormick Bird House at Lincoln Park Zoo


In Wheaton, 27-hole Cantigny Golf opens in 1989 and is named “Best New Public Golf Course in America” by Golf Digest. That same year, the Trust changes its name to McCormick Tribune Foundation.

Cantigny Golf, Lakeside 9 (Dick Tracy)


In 1989, the Foundation donates $30 million to rebuild “Tech,” Northwestern University’s College of Engineering building. The university renames the school the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University


The Foundation in 1990 establishes its communities program, a national network that would grow to 47 partner entities in 32 cities in less than a decade and makes $60 million in grants, including $20 million for construction of the McCormick Tribune Journalism Center at Northwestern University.


At Cantigny, the First Division Museum moves into a spacious new building in 1992, accommodating expanded exhibits and growing visitation. In 1993 the Foundation launches an initiative to improve early childhood education centers in Illinois. By 1999, Foundation assets total close to $1.5 billion.

First Division Museum interior, Battle of the Bulge exhibit


The Foundation helps raise more than $21 million in relief response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and gives away its billionth dollar in 2003 — the same year the Illinois Institute of Technology opens the McCormick Tribune Campus Center, made possible by $20 million from the Foundation.

Illinois Tech McCormick Tribune Campus Center


Driven by the efforts of Foundation grantees, Illinois passes legislation in 2006 making it the first state to commit to free, high-quality education for all children ages 3-5. Also in 2007, the McCormick Tribune Foundation becomes the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.


In 2010, the Foundation deepens its commitment to Chicago communities with a special focus on the South and West sides, particularly the Little Village and Englewood neighborhoods.


In 2010, the Foundation also launches a major initiative to improve media literacy and civic education, which culminates in the State of Illinois passing two laws establishing civic education requirements that set new standards nationally for access and instruction.

Illinois State Capitol building


The Foundation launches a refreshed Chicago-focused strategy to guide its investments over the forthcoming decade.


Our Benefactor

Publisher, editor, media pioneer, and staunch defender of the First Amendment; war hero, explorer, and public servant; civic leader, attorney, and philanthropist. He stood 6-feet, 4-inches and was known as the Colonel, a rank achieved during his valorous military service and a nickname that proved to be an enduring reminder of his imposing presence.

Our Benefactor

Robert R. McCormick at Tribune Tower desk

Meet Our Team

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is led by individuals dedicated to this great city, its diverse neighborhoods, and its residents.

Leadership and staff are guided by our vision, values, and mission and are committed to furthering McCormick’s ideals and principles. We are strategic thinkers and leaders in our respective work. We embrace partnership and are committed to continual evaluation and improvement.

Our Team

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