Student Pathways to College and Career Readiness:

Illinois Community Network Meeting

On January 16th and 17th, 2014 Advance Illinois, in partnership with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, and Northern Illinois University's Office of Education System Innovation will bring together community leaders from across the state to discuss how to increase the number of Illinoisans with high-quality degrees or credentials.

Through the Illinois Pathways Initiative, public school leaders and private industry partners are creating and organizing resources to help give students meaningful career exploration, work-based learning opportunities, and rigorous academics that will prepare graduates for life in the real world. 

  • Goal: Each community in Illinois is working to increase the number of residents with high-quality college degrees, certificates or other credentials to 60% by 2025.
  • Meeting outcomes: Community participants will leave with tangible next steps and a plan to work collaboratively to implement Pathways uniquely in their community. Statewide organizations will leave with a clear sense of how to support this work as it progresses. 

At this time, invited communities include: Aurora, Bloomington, Chicago, Decatur, East St. Louis, Elgin, Evanston, Illinois Valley, North Chicago (Lake County), Oak Park, Peoria, Quad Cities, Rockford, and Springfield. Each community will bring representatives from school districts, community colleges, chambers of commerce, community foundations and/or United Way, non-profit partners, and civic and business leaders. Contact us for more information.


Pre-Conference Reading


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Day 1 Agenda

10:30 Registration Begins

Optional pre-conference session: Introduction to College & Career Readiness efforts in Illinois including an overview of the work of the Illinois P-20 Council, the Illinois Pathways Initiative, Illinois Assistance Commission, and the new state standards.

 (This preconference session is recommended for those who have never participated in an event with any of the sponsoring organizations and can help lead to deeper conversations.)

12:00-1:15—Welcoming lunch


1:30-2:30—Panel presentation on community collaboration on Pathways


2:45-4:00—Peer group lead break-out sessions

  • Employer options for engagement & work-based learning opportunities
  • Middle school-14 education models
  • Introduction to backbone organizations
  • Municipal, chamber, and civic leadership
  • Panel conversation with foundations and community organizations

4:30-5:15—Structured team time to debrief


5:30 – 7:00—Dinner conversation by Illinois state leadership

7:00-8:30—Sponsored reception

Friday, January 17, 2014

Day 2 Agenda

8:00 Breakfast opens

8:30—9:15 – CEO panel

Concurrent break-out sessions with Learning Exchange leads

  • 9:30—10:15
  • 10:15—Break
  • 10:30-11:15

11:30-1pm—Lunch conversation lead by planning committee

Pre-Conference Reading

Below, you will find a list of reading materials that will help prepare meeting attendees with a solid background on key topics.  


The Lumina Foundation 

Watch this three minute video on Lumina's initiative designed to help communities and regions dramatically increase the number of local residents with postsecondary credentials. The collaborative effort connects participating cities with significant technical and planning assistance, data tools, flexible funding and special access to a powerful network of national thought leaders.

Read more about the Lumina Foundation. 

Video Case Study: Wheeling High School

Illinois’ Wheeling High School has helped students develop critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills through an extensive program of career pathways and original research opportunities. Watch this short film produced about Wheeling High School which premiered at the P21 Summit on 21st Century Learning on November 18, 2013.

Read more about Patterns of Innovation at Wheeling High School.

The Common Core State Standards: New Learning Standards for English Language Arts and Math

This three-minute video explains how the Common Core State Standards will help students achieve at high levels and help them learn what they need to know to get to graduation and beyond.

Find out more about the Common Core State Standards in Illinois.