David L. Grange, the new president of McCormick-Tribune Foundation, draws on 30 years of military experience to illustrate one of his tactics for improving the foundation’s organizational culture: “In Bosnia, you had command centers in both Germany and Russia. Sometimes the aviation guy didn’t know the artillery guy.” Finding a similar situation in his new job, Grange says he’s “looking at bringing some of the people from our peripheral locations face-to-face in downtown Chicago for more coordinated action on projects.”
Grange, who has served as McCormick-Tribune Foundation’s executive vice president and chief operating officer since 1999, succeeds Richard A. Behrenhausen, president of the foundation since 1991. The change-over became effective September 1.
Bringing more managers face-to-face is one of several organizational changes Grange wants to achieve at McCormick-Tribune, which arranges $100 million in annual grants, and makes between 1,800 and 2,000 grants a year.
Plans have been in the works almost a year for re-organization—thanks, Grange points out, to the “generous cooperation” of departing president Behrenhausen. “We have worked together to establish a three-person executive team to guide the organization. All our activity will come under the authority of one of these three individuals.”
A tri-partite grouping of McCormick-Tribune grant programs has also emerged, which Grange calls “the three C’s: children, community, and country.” All three have deep roots in the history of the foundation and the values of its founder.
Upon the death of Robert R. McCormick in 1955, his will created the McCormick-Tribune Foundation. Known informally as “the Colonel,” McCormick was the entrepreneurial founder and often controversial editor of the Chicago Tribune. His will specified that his fortune be used for “religious, scientific, literary, and educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.”
Born in 1880, McCormick was one of the early entrepreneurs to make his fortune building a multimedia empire. A colorful character, he created not only the Tribune but Chicago’s WGN radio and television stations, as well as the Mutual Broadcasting System at a time when broadcasting was in its infancy. McCormick served in the U.S. Army with the Mexican Expeditionary Forces and in France during World War I under General “Black Jack” Pershing. His respect for the military continues in the Foundation’s substantial military projects, including the First Division Museum at Cantigny, located on McCormick’s Wheaton, Illinois estate. As a newspaper columnist and editor, he was an advocate of American isolationism and midwest conservatism.
Children, Community, and Country
One of the Foundation’s most important divisions is its children’s grants program, which focuses on early childhood education and supports such teaching institutions as Chicago’s Erikson Institute.
McCormick-Tribune will also continue several commitments designed to magnify its own fiscal resources through local community partnerships. As of September 1, the Foundation leads a network of 47 partners nationwide to stimulate grassroots-directed giving from private groups in select local communities. The Foundation ordinarily teams up with newspapers, broadcasters, and professional sports teams in each community. These partners promote programs and raise local contributions using their combined media power; McCormick-Tribune uses its matching model to increase funds for these projects.
“We don’t skim anything off the top,” Grange says about the community partnerships. “We pay our own administration costs. Forty percent of our annual grants are raised through local partners.” These grants go to such projects as Boys & Girls clubs, substance abuse prevention counseling, and centers for victims of domestic violence.
Grange says he will continue to improve a ten- to twelve-part conference series on national issues that the Foundation supports annually. “It’s another way to magnify resources,” he says. “You do a conference on, say, service volunteerism. You make it a lively and substantive discussion. You publish the proceedings. You get more results when the material is re-published in magazines and other media. The intellectual property the conference creates is widely disseminated through many communications channels. So your conference results get a big reach for your investment dollar, and that helps related projects that receive our grants.”
The most recent conference sponsored by McCormick-Tribune (and co-sponsored by Center for Media and Security) was the “Military and the Media Conference.” Grange says such conferences offer neutral ground where journalists, military officers, and Pentagon officials can gather to better understand each other. After some of its sponsored conferences, the Foundation commissions polls surveying the American people on the recent conference’s topic. After the “Military and the Media Conference,” for instance, the Foundation commissioned a poll whose questions gained much from the material presented in the conference. The survey’s results then gave new directions to some Foundation programs regarding public communication about military matters.
Grange sees serving in the military as similar to service in a foundation like McCormick-Tribune. In both, “you feel a sense of duty and service,” he explains. During his 30-year career in the U.S. Army, Grange commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Germany, Task Force Eagle in Bosnia, and U.S. troops in Macedonia and Kosovo. He led Ranger, Special Forces, Delta Force, aviation, and infantry units throughout the world, and was awarded three Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts. Recently inducted into the U.S. Army’s elite Ranger Hall of Fame, Grange retired with the rank of brigadier general.
“In the military, you have a sense of purpose,” he says. “You enjoy organizing things. You learn to deal with a lot of uncertainty. Things move fast. Under such conditions, you have an opportunity to be creative. You have to figure out how to be innovative. Making the transition to a large foundation after a military experience is a reasonable move.”
From day one at McCormick-Tribune, Grange has had to move fast under uncertain conditions. It was on September 1, the day he moved into the president’s slot, that the foundation launched, with partners, the Hurricane Katrina Relief Campaign to provide short- and long-term aid to children and communities affected by Katrina. As of September 27, the foundation has raised $8.48 million. When it comes to getting organized “in places like New Orleans,” he says, “it is the same as in Kosovo.”