The Northwestern – Chicago Public Schools Rapid Impact Grants Program

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Rapid Impact Grants (RIG) program’s goal is to fund small grants for Northwestern University research projects that are of high scholarly quality; that are completed along an accelerated timetable; that are immediately actionable; that kick-start or advance researcher-district partnerships; and that align with Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) programmatic priorities. This program works to accelerate the study of first-order CPS research questions that can be addressed with small grant-level funding and yield actionable results in 12-18 months following funding. The program was conceptualized 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. Dean Figlio and CEO Jackson sought to build a bridge between the unmet research needs of CPS and the research tools and substantive expertise of Northwestern faculty to address CPS’s most pressing questions and improve policy and practice and the use of research. The main goal of the RIG program is to provide sustaining, small grant funding for Northwestern-CPS research partnerships that address first-order research needs in the district. The RIG program works for the following outcomes: • Engage scholars from across Northwestern who can bring specific expertise to inform and advance the CPS research agenda and improve policy and practice in the district. The RIG program is therefore designed to: o Kick-start new scholarship and partnerships between researchers and research centers and groups with district offices, administrators and practitioners, and schools. o Enhance existing research endeavors and partnerships that could be extended, strengthened, or scaled through more flexible, rapid funding. • Directly align to the CPS research agenda and therefore directly advance district goals and priorities. • Provide more immediate impact to CPS. Successful proposals will lead to both scholarly products as well as products generated for CPS use and benefit. • Further build the capacity of the district to do research; use research for practice; and to allow practice to inform research. • Develop a model for other university-school district partnerships that can be shared locally in Chicago as well as through national networks focused on advancing research-practice partnerships, for example, the National Network of Education Research – Practice Partnerships (NNERPP). To implement the RIG program we engage in the following activities: • Develop and circulate the RIG Request for Proposals (RFP). This funding from the Steans Family Foundation will enable us to do Round 4 of RIG funding. Previous rounds of funding were: Fall 2018, Spring 2019 and Fall 2019 and those projects must be completed by March 31, 2020. Researchers have approximately 6 weeks to develop and submit a short proposal. The proposals, up to 6 pages in length, describe the research question; its contribution to the scholarly literature and its methodology; its budget and timeline; its CPS partner; the problem of practice the project addresses or how the project informs decision-making for CPS partners/supporters; and proposed products (both scholarly products and those delivered to CPS). • Proposal Review. Proposals are initially evaluated by an anonymous panel of Northwestern faculty for scholarly quality and contribution, appropriateness of the budget, and feasibility and then by CPS leadership on the basis of these criteria as well as timeliness, actionability, and CPS priorities. The Northwestern faculty
Effective start/end date12/15/1912/15/22


  • Steans Family Foundation (19-2493)


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