Foundation spending to increase news literacy


The Robert R. McCormick Foundation believes that the internet has ushered in an explosion of news-related content, but at the same time it hasn’t ushered an increase in news-gathering. Rather, it has led to increases in the amount of opinion and infotainment content available. It is awarding almost $5M in grants to organizations hoping to teach younger demos how to distinguish one type of content from another.

In a nutshell, the Foundation believes that nowadays, facts are scarce and opinions are not.

“Given the digital information overload, citizens of a democracy are challenged to sort credible information from opinion, rumor, and simple untruths,” said David Hiller, President and CEO, Robert R. McCormick Foundation. “We believe that news literacy training, youth journalism training and stronger civics education are effective tools to build critical thinking skills and generate vigorous debate so vital in maintaining a strong democracy.”

“The Foundation has increased support of stand-alone news literacy programs, while also infusing news literacy principles into youth journalism, teacher training and community news projects,” said Clark Bell, Journalism Program director, Robert R. McCormick Foundation.  “Our goals are to increase the quality of news and public understanding, and make Chicago a model for news literacy programs that could be replicated nationally.”

Here’s where the money is going:

*** Grants Supporting Quality Content
1. Investigative News Network, Washington, D.C., $225,000 over two years. For joint reporting projects, training seminars and support services for the 55-member network
2. Investigating Reporting Workshop, Washington, D.C., $75,000. For support of an evaluation project of investigative news
3. Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., Columbia, MO, $90,000 over 18 months. To expand a watchdog reporting and training program to Midwestern newsrooms
4. Poynter Institute for Media Studies, St. Petersburg, FL, $710,000 over two years. For administration and evaluation of the Specialized Reporting Institutes
5. Aspen Institute, Aspen, CO, $150,000. For support of the Aspen Security Forum
6. Center for Media and Security, Millwood, NY, $200,000 over two years. For general operating support
7. Northwestern Medill School of Journalism, Evanston, IL, $1,000,000 over two years. For continued support of the National Security Journalism Initiative
8. American University, Washington, D.C., $250,000 over two years. For continued support of the New Media Women Entrepreneurs program
9. Chicago Public Media., Chicago, IL, $150,000 over two years. To partner with media that serve youth and community audiences
TOTAL – $ 2,850,000

*** Grants Supporting Youth Media and News Literacy
10. City Colleges of Chicago Foundation, Chicago, IL, $50,000. For the development of news, digital and civic literacy curriculum for students of the City Colleges
11. Common Sense Media, San Francisco, CA, $210,000 over two years. To continue to grow a news and digital literacy program in Chicago
12. News Literacy Project, Washington, D.C., $300,000 over two years. To implement news literacy curriculum in two dozen Chicago schools and community organizations
13. Research Foundation of the State University of New York, Albany, NY, $330,000 over two years. For news literacy resources, training, evaluation and mini-grants to innovative teachers
14. University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, $50,000. For the development of a news literacy assessment instrument and related research
15. Free Spirit Media, Chicago, IL, $150,000. To support the expansion of its journalism programs and help develop Chicago’s youth journalism field
16. Youth News Services Los Angeles Bureau, Los Angeles, CA, $75,000. For general support of youth journalism training
17. National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL, $75,000. For support of Difusion Media’s youth journalism program
18. Street-Level Youth Media, Chicago, IL, $90,000. For continued support of Street-Level’s Multimedia Journalism Program and one-time support for a new community media center
19. Youth Communications New York Center, Inc., New York, NY, $50,000. To support New York Youth Communication’s journalism program
TOTAL – $1,380,000

*** Grants Supporting Press Freedoms
20. Better Government Association, Chicago, IL, $250,000 over two years. To build the capacity of civic journalism
21. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Arlington, VA, $210,000 over two years. For continued support of the McCormick Legal Fellowship and regional training in First Amendment rights
22. Student Press Law Center, Arlington, VA, $150,000 over two years. For continued support of the McCormick Publication Fellowship
TOTAL – $610,000
GRAND TOTAL – $4,840,000