Rapid Impact Grants to Address the Research Needs of the Chicago Public Schools

Project: Research project

Description

Background

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have many unmet research needs. Meanwhile, numerous researchers at Northwestern University have the research tools and substantive expertise to address a number of CPS’s most pressing questions. Through a series of conversations between David Figlio, Dean of Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), and Janice Jackson, CEO of CPS, the CPS leadership has developed a set of research questions that they would most like for Northwestern researchers to address, should researchers be interested in doing so.

The purpose of this program is to work to solve a problem that typically depresses deep and mutualistic collaboration between researchers and school districts. School districts have key questions that they wish to address, and researchers have research ideas that they wish to study, but it is sometimes hard to find a match between district objectives and researcher objectives. Meanwhile, when there is this match, it often takes years to find the funding to get the project off the ground. SESP’s investment to create the Office of Community Education Partnerships (OCEP), with personnel dedicated to matchmaking between CPS and Northwestern, is helping to solve the first challenge, while the Rapid Impact Grants Program is designed to begin to solve the second challenge. The goal of OCEP and the Rapid Impact Grants Program is to connect all of Northwestern to CPS in order to accelerate CPS’s improvements while carrying out the first-rate scholarly research that a world-leading university expects of its researchers. When fully implemented, this pair of vehicles will be unprecedented in the country.

With $145,000 in initial seed funding support of the Spencer Foundation, the Steans Family Foundation, the Chicago Public Education Fund, and an anonymous donor, we have established the Rapid Impact Grants Program, a small grant funding program for Northwestern researchers to address first-order CPS research needs at a more accelerated timetable than is usually possible. While some of CPS’s research questions will require major grant-level funding to study, some of their research questions can get off the ground with a small grant to support, say, faculty research time, research assistant time, or project administration. The goal of this program is to facilitate the acceleration of Northwestern researchers’ studying the first-order CPS research questions that can be addressed with small grant-level funding. The goal of the Rapid Impact Grant program is to support projects that will yield actionable results in 12-18 months following funding.

In the service of facilitating Northwestern researchers’ partnership with CPS, SESP has established an Office for Community Education Partnerships, headed by Assistant Dean Amy Pratt, we have established a blanket data use agreement between Northwestern and CPS, and we are funding personnel both within CPS (shared with the University of Chicago and Chapin Hall) and at Northwestern to handle data extraction and security for research questions of mutual interest between Northwestern researchers and CPS.

Matching CPS research questions to Northwestern researchers

We have established a process through which Northwestern researchers can propose research studies to CPS to be addressed under the blanket data use agreement. We will share the CPS research agenda for Northwestern with the broader Northwestern research community – not just within SESP but, rather, all faculty members and postdoctoral fellows across the University.

During
StatusActive
Effective start/end date12/1/1811/30/19

Funding

  • Arie and Ida Crown Memorial (Agmt 12/10/18)

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