Seed Funding for School of Education and Social Policy to address first-order CPS research needs

Project: Research project


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.

We’ve established a seed funding model 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 rapid response studies addressing the first-order CPS research questions that can be accomplished with small grant-level 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, postdoctoral fellows, and Ph.D. students across the University.

Twice per year we will also put out a blanket call to the Northwestern research community to propose small grants under the accelerated process proposed herein. Researchers wishing to apply for a small competitive grant to study a question on the research agenda may submit a 2-6 page summary of the research project, including rationale (including explicit connection to CPS’s research agenda), research design, analytical plan, and timeline. These proposals would be first screened by an internal committee at Northwestern, and a “short list” of finalists would then be considered by a broader committee consisting of representatives from CPS and Northwestern, which would rank order the proposals for funding priority. We propose that this committee be co-led by David Figlio from Northwestern and Sarah Dickson from CPS. We might also request input from the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research in order to create synergies and avoid duplication with ongoing work being done at the Consortium.
Effective start/end date5/15/185/14/20


  • Steans Family Foundation (18-2206)


school research
Social Policy
research planning