Skip to Main Content


Our Mission

Work with community partners across the state to research and co-construct solutions to the most pressing issues in the cradle-to-career, education-to-workforce pipeline.

Our Vision

Illinois education and workforce development organizations have reliable, relevant, actionable research on which to base decisions.

Our Scope

IWERC’s research addresses field-initiated questions from across the state.

Our Approach

IWERC’s approach to research prioritizes equity, forges collaboration with practitioners, and seeks to uncover and extend successful practices.

IWERC complements DPI’s ambitions to improve education and training for in-demand tech jobs as well as conduct applied research.

IWERC sits at the center of both initiatives; it conducts research on early childhood, K-12, and postsecondary education, and examines the intersections of that research with job-readiness.

Modeled on other research-practice partnerships, like the Consortium on School Research at University of Chicago, IWERC’s agenda is driven by stakeholders across Illinois.

IWERC is working with state agencies, school districts, early childhood programs, colleges, workforce development initiatives, and other educational partners to research and solve critical issues.

Core Principles

Research Agenda

Current Projects




IWERC launched in 2020 with $4.3 million in generous support from philanthropic partners. Since that time, IWERC has raised an additional $4.4 million from foundations, federal and state grants, and contracts. As a self-supporting unit at the University, IWERC is grateful for this external funding, which allows IWERC to sustain its impactful, state-focused research agenda. IWERC’s funders are listed below.

Chicago Education Equity COVID-19 Response Fund

Dual Enrollment Research Fund

Illinois Community College Board

Illinois State Board of Education

National Science Foundation

Two Anonymous Funders

Advisory Board

IWERC’s work is overseen by an esteemed advisory board of experts in policy, research, and practice.

Jo Anderson (Chair)

Consortium for Educational Change 

David Ardrey

Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools (AIRSS)

Lela Bridges-Webb

Retired Superintendent

Sherly Chavarria

Lloyd A. Fry Foundation

Cynthia Coburn

Northwestern University

John Q. Easton

Northwestern University

Shauna Ejeh

Illinois Action for Children

Judy Erwin


Matt Muench

JP Morgan Chase & Co

Adrienne Nazon

University of Illinois System

Elliot Regenstein

Foresight Law & Policy

Jesse Ruiz

Vistria Group

Robin Steans

Advance Illinois

Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro

Latino Policy Forum


Explore all IWERC current projects

Learn More

Illinois Workforce and Education Research Collaborative (IWERC)