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Chicago’s McCormick Foundation donates $1 million to Obama Foundation as pandemic creates fundraising challenges

McCormick pledged a $1 million gift over five years with $200,000 given to the Obama Foundation in March. 

Chicago’s McCormick Foundation were among the new major donors to the Obama Foundation in the first quarter of 2020. Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on stage at Obama Foundation Summit on Oct. 29, 2019.
Chicago’s McCormick Foundation was among the new major donors to the Obama Foundation in the first quarter of 2020. Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on stage at Obama Foundation Summit on Oct. 29, 2019.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The Obama Foundation reported on Thursday 10 new donors of $10,000 and above in the first quarter of 2020, with the foundation, going forward, having to figure out how to lure major contributors in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To compare: Looking at new donors over $10,000 in 2019, there were 24 in the first quarter; 21 in the second quarter; 11 in the third quarter; and 27 in the fourth quarter, according to the foundation.

The foundation landed three new million-dollar-plus donors in the first quarter of 2020, taking in January, February and March. They are:

*The Chicago based Robert R. McCormick Foundation. A McCormick spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times the organization pledged a $1 million gift over five years with $200,000 given in March.

Former President Barack Obama and ex-first lady Michelle are familiar with the McCormick Foundation. In May 2017, they personally donated $1 million to One Summer Chicago, a McCormick Foundation fund, for ex-Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s summer youth employment program.

*The Rattner Family Foundation. Steven Rattner, an MSNBC contributor, served in the Obama administration.

*The Spiegel Family Fund. Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Snap Inc.

The Obama Foundation only discloses the general range of donations each quarter — not the specific amounts — and posts the names of givers on its website with no other identifying information for the public. Obama Foundation chair Marty Nesbitt declines to improve this non-consumer friendly system, which gets more cumbersome each quarter.

The Obama Foundation operates domestic and international programs. There is no date set for groundbreaking to build the Obama Presidential Center, a four-building complex proposed for Jackson Park, with a museum to be housed in a tower structure. Construction has been pushed back through the years because planners did not anticipate the time it takes to conduct a federal review of the project.

The federal review is mandated because Jackson Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and because federal grants funded some park improvements.