Neighborhood Journalism Gets Boost From Grant Funding


CHICAGO, May 8, 2020 – Grants from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and the Chicago Headline Club will power local journalism for the McKinley Park neighborhood of Chicago in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, announced Justin Kerr, publisher of the McKinley Park News. Each grant will go directly toward funding news coverage of McKinley Park and new journalism initiatives to support the community, Kerr said.

“We are honored and humbled by this critical support for our publication,” Kerr said. “The pandemic has upended the already-battered news industry. This funding for Chicago journalism ensures our communities stay informed with reliable, high-quality news and information.”

Chicago COVID-19 Journalism Fund

The grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation is funded in collaboration with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Polk Bros. Foundation, and the Field Foundation. Offering grants of up to $10,000 to local news outlets, the Chicago COVID-19 Journalism Fund has so far awarded 48 grants totaling more than $425,000.

“We’re hopeful these grants will keep community voice alive in neighborhoods around Chicagoland,” said Andres Torres, Democracy program officer at the McCormick Foundation. “Communities that have historically suffered disinvestment have also been left out of the prevailing media narratives.”

Chicago Headline Club

The Chicago Headline Club Foundation, which manages giving for the local chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ), quickly disbursed emergency grant funding to local journalists as part of its Chicago Headline Club program to help offset extra professional costs caused by the pandemic. The grants of up to $500 each directly help local journalists with their news reporting expenses, including at the McKinley Park News.

“We’re so fortunate to have a leading SPJ chapter here in Chicago,” Kerr said. “They immediately recognized the crisis in the local news industry and very quickly implemented this program. We are profoundly grateful for their support.”

The McCormick Foundation awarded grants to many publications throughout the Chicago area, including to commercial publications like the McKinley Park News and its operating company, Local News LLC. Foundation giving focused on specific categories of news outlets, including those that serve non-English speakers, those that inform residents in local COVID-19 hot spots and those that specifically speak to vulnerable communities.

“Local philanthropy responded quickly to meet the basic human needs of Chicago residents,” said McCormick Foundation Director of Journalism and Media Kathy Im. “This fund acknowledges that community and ethnic media outlets are also providing an essential service for residents.”

New Neighborhood News Programming

Kerr said that both grants are going directly to support a new news programming initiative at the McKinley Park News that will especially support the neighborhood, its residents and its institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Like all of our micro-local news and events content, this new programming will be freely published online at no cost both to news consumers and to our neighborhood’s institutions and stakeholders who require communication with their constituencies,” Kerr said. “We will be announcing details soon and anticipate roll out of our new community news programming hopefully this month or by early June.”

The McKinley Park News is a micro-local online publication covering the McKinley Park Community Area and Central Manufacturing District of Chicago from its website at Its features include original news reporting, a comprehensive calendar of neighborhood events and an interactive membership system. Online as a neighborhood resource since 2012, the McKinley Park News launched its commercial operations in 2019 as a publication of Local News LLC.

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation helps communities in Chicagoland and across Illinois develop educated, informed, and engaged citizens. Through philanthropic grantmaking and Cantigny Park, the Foundation works to strengthen our democracy, and to help ensure that people, especially children, have equitable access to the opportunities they need to flourish. The McCormick Foundation, among the nation's largest foundations with more than $1.5 billion in assets, was established in 1955 upon the death of Col. Robert R. McCormick, the longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. Find out more at

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and corruption in Nigeria. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. More information is at

The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation dedicated to strengthening the Chicago region and improving the lives of the people who call it home. For more than 100 years, the Trust has served as a trusted philanthropic partner, connecting the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to nonprofit organizations working to create lasting change. Following the creation of a new strategic plan in 2019, the Trust stands committed to addressing Chicago’s legacy of systemic inequity and closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap, while continuing to respond to the critical needs of our most vulnerable residents. The Trust administers more than $360 million in annual grant making as part of its commitment to equity, opportunity and prosperity for the Chicago region. To learn more, visit

Polk Bros. Foundation is a private independent foundation dedicated to building and strengthening Chicago's families and communities, especially those most affected by poverty. The Foundation focuses its work at the intersection of Chicago's most pressing issues to address the complex roots and devastating effects of poverty, challenge inequity, and ensure that all Chicagoans have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Since its founding in 1988, the Foundation has partnered with more than 3,000 Chicago nonprofits to build strong communities and families, increase access to quality education and the arts, improve health, and strengthen organizations and the sectors in which they work. Polk Bros. Foundation is one of the largest funders of Chicago nonprofits, granting more than $25 million to nearly 400 nonprofit partners every year, and managing assets greater than $400 million. Learn more at

The Driehaus Foundation benefits individuals and communities by supporting the preservation and enhancement of the built and natural environments through historic preservation in neighborhoods throughout Chicago, encouragement of quality architectural and landscape design, and conservation of open space. The Foundation also supports arts and culture, investigative reporting and government accountability, and organizations that provide opportunities for working poor people. More information is available at

Founded in 1940 by Marshall Field III, the Field Foundation is a private, independent foundation that has been dedicated to the promise of Chicago for more than 80 years. The Field Foundation aims its grantmaking toward the goal of Community Empowerment through Justice, Art, Media & Storytelling and Leadership Investment. With racial equity at the center of its giving, it directs dollars to critical organizations working to address systemic issues in Chicago and aims to directly benefit some of our city’s most divested communities. Learn more at

The Chicago Headline Club is the nation’s largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, as well as an independent nonprofit dedicated to supporting journalists and promoting the values of a free press across the region. Founded in 1921, the Club champions freedom of information issues, offers professional training and support and hosts the annual Lisagor Awards banquet. More information is available at


Justin Kerr
(312) 560-1115
P.O. Box 9136
Chicago, IL 60609


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