IRS approves Chicago Reader’s move to nonprofit model

CHICAGO—The new Reader Institute for Community Journalism, Inc. (RICJ) has received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service. On January 1, 2021, RICJ will take over the Chicago Reader newspaper from its current owners.

RICJ is an Illinois nonprofit that was formed earlier this year to create an ownership structure for the Chicago Reader to move to once 501(c)(3) was conferred. RICJ will begin operations when the Reader’s assets are transferred next year.

Elzie Higginbottom and Leonard C. Goodman are currently majority owners of the Chicago Reader after purchasing it for $1 from the Chicago Sun-Times in October 2018. They have given significant support to the paper as it charts a path to a fully independent future. The Reader has also received extensive support from individual donors and foundations, and hopes to continue to diversify its revenue streams as a nonprofit.

“This is terrific news for the Reader, especially given the impact of COVID-19 on our primary revenue base—advertising,” said Reader Publisher Tracy Baim. “As we wind down the L3C this year, I can’t thank Mr. Higginbottom and Mr. Goodman enough for their tremendous support in both saving the Reader in 2018—just days before it was going to be shut down—and in support of our efforts these past two years.”

The Reader will also celebrate its 50th anniversary year in 2021. All current staff are expected to make the switch to the new organization, and the Reader’s office will remain in Bronzeville.The Reader’s current board members are President Dorothy Leavell, Treasurer Eileen Rhodes, and Secretary Sladjana Vuckovic. Those board members will continue under the new nonprofit, with Rhodes taking over as president, and several new board members joining the new nonprofit. More details will be announced soon on chicagoreader.com.

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About the Reader:

The Chicago Reader has been a fearless, innovative, and nationally respected media voice in Chicago for nearly 50 years.

The Reader creates and curates political and cultural coverage by and for Chicagoans, including highlighting underrepresented communities and stories.

As a social enterprise, we reinvest all of our profits to achieve sustainability, grow our reach, and ensure the fulfillment of our mission.

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