Non-profit

Robert R. McCormick Foundation

Website:

donate.mccormickfoundation.org/

Location:

Chicago, IL

Tax ID:

36-3689171

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $67,316,111
Expenses: $104,962,080
Assets: $1,391,901,639

Formation:

1955 (Ruling Year 1990)

Type:

Grantmaking Organization

President/CEO:

David Hiller

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation (previously known as the McCormick Tribune Foundation) is a Chicago-based grantmaking organization which funds entities mainly covering journalism and freedom of speech issues, primarily in Illinois. The organization is one of the largest private grantmaking organizations in the country and held assets of $1.25 billion as of 2018. [1]

The McCormick foundation has been closely related to the Chicago Tribune since its creation in 1955; Robert McCormick was the owner and publisher of the Tribune until his death in the same year. The organization has since cut ties with the Chicago Tribune after an ownership change at the newspaper..

History

The McCormick Foundation was founded in 1955 upon the death of Robert R. McCormick, the owner and editor of the Chicago Tribune, which he took over from his grandfather in the 1920s. McCormick dedicated $55 million toward the creation of a foundation that would be dedicated to advocating for First Amendment rights, especially those pertaining to journalists. [2]

Since its founding, the McCormick Foundation has grown substantially and is now one of the largest grantmaking organizations in the United States. In 2017, the organization held assets of more than $1.3 billion. [3]

The organization was previously named the McCormick Tribune Foundation. It held a substantial ownership stake in the Chicago Tribune until 2008, when it sold its stake and changed its legal name to the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The organization remained loosely related to the Tribune in that board members of the Tribune remained on the board of the McCormick Foundation. [4]

Founder

Robert R. McCormick was the CEO and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. McCormick was a Republican alderman in Chicago in the early 1900s and 1910s. He used his platform as a politician to speak out against U.S. involvement in World War I. Nevertheless, McCormick enlisted in the Illinois National Guard in 1916 and was commissioned as a major. The entire National Guard of Illinois was called into federal service during World War I and McCormick was sent to Europe to serve. McCormick served in France as a commander of the First Cavalry Division of the U.S. Army. [5]

McCormick removed himself from any political positions in 1920 when he took control of the Chicago Tribune. He used the Tribune to publish anti-war sentiments before the U.S. entered the Second World War and was always a strong opponent of President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal. McCormick continued to use the Tribune to dissent with politicians including the mayor of Chicago at the time, William Hale Thompson (R), and Illinois Governor Len Small (R). [6]

Cantigny Park

The McCormick Foundation spends a considerable amount of money annually on maintaining and upgrading Cantigny Park, previously the home of Robert McCormick. McCormick stated in his will that part of the $55 million endowment left to found the organization would go toward this purpose. The organization has exceeded simple maintenance of the grounds and has turned the area into a tourist attraction preserving the history of Chicago and Robert McCormick. Cantigny now includes multiple museums, a golf course, walking gardens, sports fields, and playgrounds. [7]

The First Division museum is the largest museum on the grounds and is devoted to displaying the history of the First Cavalry Division of the United States Army, the division in which McCormick served. The museum underwent an $8.5-million overhaul and was opened to the public in 2017. The museum focuses on key victories in the World Wars in which the First Division played key roles. The Museum averages around 175,000 visitors annually and does not charge for entry. [8]

Grantmaking

While the Robert R. McCormick Foundation was originally devoted to making grants for journalism-related entities, it has a recent history of funding left-of-center and liberal organizations which advocate for a variety of issues.

The organization made a $100,000 grant in 2017 to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, a left-of-center organization which advocates for more lenient immigration legislation and lessening immigration enforcement. The organization also made a number of grants amounting to around $50,000 in 2016 to the Common Cause Education Fund, an organization which focuses on campaign finance laws and advocated for redistricting which would favor Democratic candidates. The organization has also made grants to Latino Policy Forum, an organization which advocated for rent ceilings, minimum wage increases, immigration policy reform, and tax incentives for Hispanic people in Illinois. [9]

Board of Directors and Staff

Dennis FitzSimons is the chairman for the board of directors for the McCormick Foundation. FitzSimons previously served as the chair and CEO for the Tribune Company, a large media conglomerate which controlled the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, KTLA, the Chicago Cubs baseball team, and more media subsidiaries. FitzSimons also worked as the chair for the board of directors for Independent Maps, an organization which aims to redraw the congressional districts in Illinois. [10]

David Hiller is the CEO and president for the McCormick Foundation. He previously worked as a publisher and editor for the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. Hiller is a graduate of Harvard Law School and previously served as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. Hiller resigned in 2008 from his position as publisher for the L.A. Times after a long stint low revenue for the paper. There were a large number of staff cuts under Hiller’s leadership, and he was criticized for indecisive leadership decisions. [11]

Funding

The Robert R. McCormick foundation is one of the largest charitable foundations in the United States holding assets of more than $1.3 billion as of 2017. The organization saw an almost $100 million decline in assets from 2017 to 2018 when their endowment fell to around $1.25 billion. [12][13]

Officers of the organization take relatively low compensation compared to other organizations with billion-dollar endowments. David Hiller, the CEO and President of the organization — and highest paid employee — was compensated $389,170 in 2018, and was one of only two employees breaking the $300,000 mark, while only two other employees broke $200,000 in base compensation. [14]

The McCormick Foundation is one of the largest grantmaking organizations in the United States and makes tens of millions of dollars in grants annually. According to tax documents, the foundation gave $69 million in 2016, $89 million in 2017, and $47 million in 2018. [15][16]

References

  1. 2018 IRS Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Part I: Summary. ^
  2. “Our History.” Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Accessed February 2, 2020. https://donate.mccormickfoundation.org/about-us/history. ^
  3. 2017 IRS Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Part I: Summary. ^
  4. “Foundation Changes Name.” Charles Storch. Chicago Tribune. Accessed February 2, 2020. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2008-05-16-0805150637-story.html. ^
  5. “The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick.” Smith, Richard Norton. Northwestern University Press. ^
  6. “Robert R. McCormick Biography.” First Division Museum. Accessed February 3, 2020. https://www.fdmuseum.org/researchers/robert-r-mccormick-biography/. ^
  7. “About the Visitors Center.” Cantigny Park. Accessed February 2, 2020. https://cantigny.org/plan-your-visit/visitors-center/. ^
  8. “First Division Museum Opens Saturday, tells the story of war with aplomb.” Johnson, Steve. Chicago Tribune. Accessed February 2, 2020. https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/museums/ct-ent-first-division-museum-reopening-0824-story.html. ^
  9. 2017 IRS Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Schedule I, Part II: Grants and other assistance to governments and organizations in the U.S. ^
  10. “Dennis FitzSimons Biography.” Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Accessed February 2, 2020. https://donate.mccormickfoundation.org/about-us/board-of-directors ^
  11. “Publisher of Times resigns amid cuts.” Michael A. Hiltzik. Accessed February 2, 2020. ^
  12. 2017 IRS Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Part I: Summary. ^
  13. 2018 IRS Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Part I: Summary. ^
  14. 2018 IRS Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Part VII: Compensation of Officers and Key Employees. ^
  15. 2017 IRS Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Part I: Summary. ^
  16. 2018 IRS Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Part I: Summary. ^
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 1990

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $67,316,111 $104,962,080 $1,391,901,639 $31,171,717 Y $12,221,288 $0 $22,503,171 $2,237,383 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $58,862,050 $84,974,438 $1,267,759,375 $35,200,776 Y $23,342,745 $0 $18,301,000 $2,307,823
    2015 Dec Form 990 $69,942,028 $72,148,999 $1,251,839,102 $35,653,284 Y $20,226,899 $7,051 $18,916,370 $2,183,387 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $106,361,160 $75,283,545 $1,324,555,986 $42,884,095 Y $15,577,976 $12,500 $18,996,693 $2,352,097 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $121,675,991 $84,105,501 $1,331,662,305 $44,151,554 Y $17,550,193 $6,441 $19,527,710 $2,105,003 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $67,443,458 $62,990,671 $1,199,449,711 $32,922,093 Y $15,247,510 $19,073 $19,035,841 $2,067,031 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $36,160,702 $83,172,827 $1,103,940,308 $43,753,917 Y $17,724,621 $12,985 $19,639,361 $2,015,577 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Robert R. McCormick Foundation

    205 N MICHIGAN AVENUE
    Chicago, IL 60601-5927