About us

Reader Institute for Community Journalism

RICJ was organized for and is operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). More specifically, the Charity is organized and operated to educate, advance, and inform public discourse through local, independent journalism in the Greater Chicago metropolitan area. RICJ operates and publishes the Chicago Reader, which creates and curates political and cultural coverage by and for Chicago, including highlighting underrepresented communities and stories. RICJ also operates the Chicago Independent Media Alliance. We reinvest all of our revenue to achieve sustainability, grow our reach, and ensure the fulfillment of our mission.

The Chicago Reader

The Chicago Reader has been a fearless, innovative, and nationally respected media voice in Chicago for more than 50 years. In print every other week and daily online, we are tastemakers, incisive critics, and agenda-setters. Our readers look to us for what’s new, what’s now, what’s next, and depend on us to hold local government and other public authorities accountable—not to take sides. We are community-supported, and we could not be more proud of our equitable approach to community coverage, staffing, and vendor supply. We’ve got fresh talent and fresh energy, and we’re thrilled to continue to deliver our unflagging, unfiltered take on Chicago.

We are the Reader. We are Chicago. And we speak Chicago.

Editorial Independence

We subscribe to standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News.

Donor Transparency

We are committed to transparency in funding our organization. Accepting financial support from individuals or groups does not mean we endorse donor products, services, or opinions.

We accept gifts, grants, and sponsorships from individuals, organizations, and foundations to support our ongoing free journalism. Our news judgments are made completely independently and are not based on or influenced by donors. Supporters do not have the right to assign, review, or edit content.

We will make public all donors who give $5,000 or more per year. As a nonprofit, we will avoid accepting donations from anonymous sources. We do accept advertising from government entities, political parties, elected officials, and candidates actively seeking public office, but we do not endorse in any elections. We do accept donations from individuals, and this can include politicians and candidates, but we do not allow donors to influence editorial decisions.

See our most recent Century Circle impact and financials report.
Learn about the Chicago Independent Media Alliance.

Chicago Reader Champions

Funders who have given $5,000 or more in 2021 or 2022.

Individuals:

  • Leonard C. Goodman
  • Elzie Higginbottom
  • Eileen Rhodes
  • David Hiller
  • Howard Conant
  • Michael Leppen
  • Julia Stasch

Organizations:

  • The Builders Initiative
  • Chicago Community Trust
  • Carol Oppenheim & Jerome Lamet Charitable Fund
  • City of Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
  • City University of New York Center for Community Media
  • The Democracy Fund
  • The Donnelley Foundation
  • Driehaus Foundation
  • Facebook Accelerator Program – Local Media Association
  • The Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation
  • The Field Foundation
  • Fund for Investigative Journalism
  • James P. and Brenda S. Grusecki Family Foundation
  • Illinois Humanities
  • Institute for Nonprofit News
  • Joyce Foundation
  • Local Media Foundation
  • MacArthur Foundation
  • The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust
  • Nathan Cummings Foundation
  • Craig Newmark Philanthropies
  • Polk Bros. Foundation
  • Solutions Journalism Network
  • Square One Foundation
  • The Darrell R. Windle Charitable Fund