Education Program Fellow (RMF)

About Us

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is dedicated to fostering communities of educated, informed, and engaged citizens. Through philanthropic grant-making and Cantigny Park, the Foundation works to make life better in Chicagoland. 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. The Foundation awards about $55 million a year across five grantmaking program areas.

Cantigny Park, part of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, is the 500-acre Wheaton estate of Robert R. McCormick. It is home to the McCormick House, First Division Museum, formal gardens, picnic grounds, walking trails and a Visitors Center with banquet and dining facilities.

Our Values

Integrity and Humility

Trust and respect are essential in relationships. We aspire to the highest standards of professional behavior and ethics. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We seek communities in which all individuals have equitable access to the resources, opportunities, and power they need to flourish, and where race and ethnicity are not predictive of life outcomes.

Individual Rights and Responsibilities

We promote an understanding of both our Constitutional rights, as well as our obligations to others as members of our community.

Commitment to Service and Effective Stewardship

We support people and communities through our service to them. To sustain our mission for years to come, we respect the resources entrusted to us and the intent of our benefactor, Robert R. McCormick. 

Greater Impact and Collaboration

We work with communities to help solve their most pressing challenges. We look to maximize our impact through partnerships and teamwork.

Innovation and a Commitment to Learning

Continuous learning will improve our performance and each person’s ability to contribute.

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation and Cantigny Park provide equal employment opportunity (EEO) to all persons regardless of age, color, national origin, citizenship status, individuals with disabilities, race, religion, creed, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, genetic information, marital and housing status.

About the Education Program

The McCormick Foundation has a decades-long commitment to supporting the education and healthy development of young children in Illinois, ages birth to eight, through investments in early education. A good portion of our nearly $6 million annual investment goes toward leveraging systemic change in the state’s early education system to improve the effectiveness and quality of care children receive. The Education Program focuses its work around two North Star goals: ensuring all Illinois children arrive at kindergarten ready to thrive and enter 3rd grade on track for long-term success.

The Education Program focuses on systemic ways of cultivating outstanding leaders, teachers and childcare providers, and supporting parents to fully optimize their young child’s learning and development at home. Our team works to support our grantees to fully realize the impact of their work, while also using our knowledge and unique position to raise awareness and public understanding of these efforts and critical issues in early education.

The Education Program of the McCormick Foundation lends many years of experience at national, state and local levels around policy, advocacy, communications and grantmaking. Our core team consists of the program director, program officer, and administrative officer along with help from a grants manager. Because our philanthropic approach is to strategically leverage our annual giving to help improve the state’s and city’s early education systems, we get directly involved – around policy tables, on site visits, in coordinating convenings and demonstrating leadership in multiple ways. We believe expertise and creativity make us more than just funders, but thought partners and catalyzers.


Opportunity: Education Program Fellow

Interested in learning about how to interrupt inter-generational poverty by improving Illinois’ system of early childhood education? This one-year fellowship provides a front row seat to the process, from the vantage of involved philanthropy. The McCormick Foundation’s Education Program Fellow would be actively involved in a four-person team that engages in a wide range of activities, from the internal grantmaking process to external policymaking, collaboration and influence activities, and convenings. The Fellow would play an important role in supporting implementation of the Education Program’s strategy, which focuses on helping children arrive at Kindergarten ready and at 3rd grade on track to thrive, with a special focus on least resourced populations. The Fellow would learn about strategic grantmaking and would have a unique view onto the entire state early learning system and the leaders who drive it, while gaining insights into how policy gets made, and playing a supportive role in ensuring impact. One important strand of the Program’s strategy this upcoming year is to improve the data systems that undergird early childhood at the state and City of Chicago levels,

and to help communities and policymakers use that data to develop policies, focus attention and allocate resources. The Fellow would be directly involved in those exciting efforts.

This position would allow the Fellow to develop a set of skills – including collaboration, project management, research, analysis, grantmaking, budgeting, agenda-setting and communication – that would position them well for a variety of mid-level leadership positions. Among them: government, advocacy/policy non-profits, direct service or philanthropy positions. Fellows also have instant exposure to the state and city’s top thought leaders, influencers and decision-makers, as well as families and community-based organizations directly impacted by early education policies and practices. This is a full-time, year-long position that reports to the Director, Education Program.


  • Assist with agenda creation for weekly Education Team meetings and budget updates
  • Learn our grants management database, Blackbaud Grantmaking, and assist on the process of grantmaking, due diligence, and board meeting preparation
  • Assist with Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) implementation strategy, as needed – including KIDS conferences, planning meetings with external partners and ISBE partners, data release and communications collateral
  • Attend designated policy meetings and compile reports for the team
  • Serve as a project manager for special projects which may include planning and coordinating presentations, developing visuals, disseminating information, and organizing and co-hosting events

Ongoing Projects 

  • Develop a tool to centralize compelling data, articles and other resources to build public awareness and generate stronger support for identified early childhood goals, organized around key issue areas within early childhood
  • Refine and update data repository and generate visuals that contribute to the larger statewide public will-building campaign
  • Explore development, research and implementation with Director of a podcasting series on early childhood

Development Opportunities

  • Participate in internal Lunch and Learns and professional development opportunities
  • Attend KIDS and Grantmakers for Education (GFE) conferences/convenings



  • Master’s degree preferred with five to eight years of work experience
  • Demonstrated interest in early childhood education, public policy, advocacy, and engaged philanthropy
  • Strong ability to research, analyze, and synthesize data
  • Excellent writing and presentation skills, particularly in communication with diverse constituencies in a variety of settings; specifically, strong, clear, and concise writing
  • Excellent organizational and project management skills with impeccable attention to detail, follow‐up, time management, and resourcefulness to research and problem solve
  • Collaborative style and willingness to work as a team to successfully implement program strategy goals
  • High level of interpersonal skills and discretion to handle confidential situations, as well as tact and diplomacy in establishing and maintaining strong relationships within the program, across the foundation, and externally
  • Humility and willingness to learn from mistakes
  • Adaptability, flexibility and productivity – able to pivot and work under deadline pressure
  • Demonstrated passion for the Foundation’s values with commitment to deliver results measured against the Foundation’s mission
  • Proficient in MS Office Suite, graphic design skills preferred
  • All offers are contingent upon successful completion of a criminal background check and drug screening


Required Application Materials:

submit online here. 

  • Resume: 1-2 pages max.
  • Cover Letter: In addition to highlighting the skills and experiences that make you a fit for the fellowship, please also share your understanding of the early childhood field.
  • Two Writing Samples
  • Graphic Design Samples (optional): Please submit additional materials via email to [email protected].



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