Children born into poverty are unfairly disadvantaged because the first five years of a child’s life are so developmentally crucial. One of Chicago’s most respected philanthropic organizations, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, continues to help fund early childhood programs like the Ounce of Prevention Fund every year.
The McCormick Foundation was developed by long-time publisher and editor of the Chicago Tribune in 1955. The foundation, which is one of the nation’s largest foundations with more than $1 billion in assets, provides grants for various public service organizations in education, civics, veteran affairs, and journalism. McCormick contributed over $250,000 each year to the Ounce of Prevention Fund each year since 2007. These funds go towards the Fund’s leadership campaigns, general operating support, and public advocacy efforts.
In a June 18, 2012 press release, McCormick’s education program director, Sara Slaughter, stated, “These grants will help Illinois address critical areas, such as principal preparation and the achievement gaps for Latino and African American children.”
The Ounce of Prevention’s objective is to assist children born into poverty with early childhood development during the first five years of life. They directly serve over 4,000 children and families throughout Illinois, train over 3,000 early childhood professionals, and design educational models to prevent academic and social achievement gaps. Ounce relies upon private funding dollars to develop innovative early brain development programs and then leverage public funding to implement and regulate these essential programs.
According to a 2012 policy statement from the Academy of Pediatrics, the number of at-risk children is increasing dramatically. Ounce of Prevention’s president, Diana Rauner, noted that “…in partnership with the McCormick Foundation, we have been at the forefront of efforts to use state and new federal investments to improve and extend the impact of home visiting programs in Illinois.” Voluntary home visiting programs have shown to be one of the most effective methods to help young parents nurture and support their babies, while minimalizing environmental risks.
Robert R. McCormick was one of Chicago’s very first major philanthropists who helped shape the city he loved during his life and beyond. He willed his fortune and estate to the people of Illinois, also leaving behind a legacy of service and a determination to make his community a better place to live for our community’s children.