Visit the Sangamon County 60 by 25 Cradle to Career Data Dashboard

Sangamon County has been designated a 60 by 25 Leadership Community.  This means that the Continuum of Learning will work locally to contribute to the statewide goal that 60% of all adults in Illinois will hold a meaningful postsecondary degree or credential by the year 2025.  Check out Sangamon County’s Cradle to Career Data Dashboard to:

  • Analyze regional information on education and workforce system characteristics and performance
  • Track progress on postsecondary education attainment and education-to-career objectives
  • Benchmark community efforts against state averages.

Visit the data dashboard.

2018 Youth Mentoring Summit: Group work results

It has been one month since the 2018 Sangamon County Youth Mentoring Summit, and the Continuum of Learning team has been hard at work reviewing the results of the Summit’s group activity and identifying the top 5 types of outcomes, activities, and inputs that attendees expressed need to be part of our local mentoring movement.

For those who need a refresher, during the final activity at this year’s Youth Mentoring Summit attendees gathered in multi-disciplinary groups of 5-8 people and worked collaboratively to articulate the outcomes they and their staff strive for (What do we want for our youth as a result of their having been mentored?), the activities that would help achieve those outcomes, and the resources/inputs needed to make those activities happen.  Below are the commonly-identified themes in each of those categories.


Outcome Types:

Remember that outcomes are specific and measurable.  These are just the types of outcomes that Summit participants expressed are important to their programs:

  • Academic improvement
  • Increased participation in career and technical education opportunities
  • Improved school retention, attendance, and graduation rates
  • Delinquency prevention and support for justice-involved youth
  • Improved social-emotional learning and skills


  • Mentor training
  • Evidence-based curriculum and mentoring practice
  • Academic-focused programs
  • Mentees’ exposure to new experiences (cultural and career-related)
  • Social-emotional skill-building for mentees


  • Funding
  • People (committed mentors and mentees, paid mentoring program staff, school staff)
  • Partnerships (Fraternal organizations, civic organizations, school districts, faith community)
  • Knowledge of and access to mutually-reinforcing community programs (jobs/internships, tutoring opportunities, basic needs support)
  • Family/student support team engagement



We’ve identified some of the results we all aspire to achieve for our youth being mentored.  Now what?  Here are 3 ways these commonly expressed outcomes, activities, and inputs can be used:

1. PROGRAM PLANNING: As you conduct planning for your mentoring program, discuss with your team: Are our inputs and activities likely to get us to our desired outcomes?  What does research say will help us achieve our outcomes?  If you need help, you can check out some research summaries, apply for technical assistance, or contact the Continuum of Learning.  Your outcomes may be the same or different from the ones identified above, but make sure every opportunity you pursue drives towards the end results you want for the youth participating in your program.

2. PARTNERSHIPS: As you form partnerships with other organizations in Sangamon County to support your mentoring efforts, ensure that your shared activities and the inputs you’re giving/receiving speak directly to one or more of your desired outcomes.  Use the commonly identified outcome types listed above as a starting point– which of these (or others) do you share with your prospective partners?

3. CONTINUUM OF LEARNING: The Sangamon County Continuum of Learning will continue to support local mentoring programs in aligning with evidence-based best practice and to increase the reach of high-impact mentoring models.  Now, the CoL will also keep these group work results in mind as local priorities.  If there is a resource that has helped your program use evidence-based best practice, let us know and we’ll share your story and that resource with the community. Subscribe to the Sangamon Success newsletter to learn about opportunities as they arise.





To stay in the loop about local resources for evidence-based mentoring and future events, please subscribe to the Sangamon Success newsletter.



The Sangamon County Youth Mentoring Summit is hosted by the Sangamon County Continuum of Learning, which oversees implementation of the Sangamon Success report.  The report consists of 25 recommendations to support local non-profits and service providers in leveraging data and high-quality research to maximize their positive impact on the less-advantaged members of the Sangamon County community.  Learn more.

State Journal-Register: “Report Sheds Light on Local School Changes”

(Springfield, IL – November 25, 2017) “Every school district in the area saw its low-income population rise, and in the case of some communities, more than double.  The rise in low-income students has been especially stark in Riverton. Enrollment has been relatively flat, but the percentage of low-income students has skyrocketed from 28 percent to 58 percent.  Superintendent Lance Thurman, who was hired four years ago, said the jump can be explained, in part, because Riverton has seven mobile home parks, some of which have expanded in recent years, and a number of apartment buildings.  “The rentals encourage more of short-term stay than in other communities I’ve been associated with,” he said.

Ball-Chatham also saw its low-income population more than double as the community has expanded, as has Rochester. Jacksonville, Taylorville, Pawnee and Springfield also have seen significant jumps.  Out of all the districts, Waverly has remained the most level, only inching up from 35.2 percent to 35.4 percent.” Continue reading at

State Journal-Register: “District 186’s PARCC performance improves slightly”

(Springfield, IL – October 31, 2017) “Springfield Public Schools inched closer, but still has a ways to go to close the gap with other Illinois schools on state testing, newly released data shows. Test scores from the PARCC exam taken by elementary and middle school students for the 2016-17 school year show 26.8 percent of Springfield students met or exceeded state standards in reading and math. That was up from 25.6 percent of students in the 2015-16 school year.” Continue reading at

Children & Nature Network – Thriving Through Nature: Fostering Children’s Executive Function Skills

The Children & Nature Network has integrated the Harvard Center on the Developing Child’s research about developing executive functions with the seven common play motifs that David Sobel has found that children — regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or ecosystem — use in unstructured play.  Check out Thriving Through Nature: Fostering Children’s Executive Function Skills for evidence-informed, developmentally-appropriate, nature-based activities that promote the development of executive functions in children 0-18 years old.  These can be used year-round, at home or in an educational setting, and with few additional funding resources.

UIS offers first on campus dual credit class to high school students as part of a pilot program

(Springfield, IL – October 12, 2017) “The University of Illinois Springfield is offering its first on campus dual credit class for high school students as part of a pilot program. The class marks the first time UIS has offered high school students college credit for a class taught by a university faculty member.  The pilot course, CHE 199A: General, Organic, and Biochemistry, is being offered to 18 seniors from Springfield’s Sacred Heart-Griffin High School (SHG). The students earn both college and high school credit for the course. If the program is successful, the university hopes to expand course selection and offer classes to students at other high schools in central Illinois.”  Continue reading at

CNN: “Little kids and ‘toxic stress’: we can solve this”

(October 4, 2017) “All children have incredible potential, most with parents, teachers and other adults in their lives who want the best for them. Unfortunately, many schools, particularly those that serve children with the greatest need, face obstacles that limit children’s educational success — rote curriculums, insufficient support for teachers and scant extracurricular options, to name a few.” Continue reading at  

NPR: Getting The Most Out Of Pre-K, ‘The Most Important’ Year In School

(October 2, 2017) “The big takeaway here is: Any gains a child makes in a quality preschool program will fade away in a classroom that’s not supportive and nurturing.  We all know what quality programs do for children, and yes, they’re expensive. But not as expensive as all the remedial programs we fund these days to ‘fix’ kids who missed out. So the choice should be simple.” Continue reading at

University Business: Is early college working? How higher ed can address four common concerns related to dual enrollment?

(September 20, 2017) “In 2002, 1.2 million students were earning college credits while still in high school. A decade later, the number of those participating in dual enrollment courses had almost doubled, hitting 2 million, according to the most recent federal data. And as a 2015 ACT policy brief detailed, the programs continue growing.

Colleges and universities in 47 states engage with school district partners to offer dual enrollment programs, in which courses are taught on college campuses, at high schools or online. However, with the explosive growth of dual enrollment—also referred to as early college—have come questions about their value.” Continue reading at

Brookings Institution: What we know about Career and Technical Education in high school

(October 5, 2017) “Career and technical education (CTE) has traditionally played an important role in U.S. secondary schools. The first federal law providing funding for vocational education was passed in 1917, even before education was compulsory in every state… Unfortunately, research on CTE has not kept pace with policy interest.”  Continue reading at