Continuum of Learning logo

The Continuum of Learning is a partnership dedicated to ensuring that all Sangamon County residents are Ready to Learn, Ready to Work, and Ready to Succeed.

Purpose and Aspirations

The Continuum of Learning is an educational collaborative partnership led by volunteers from:

  • The Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln
  • Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce
  • United Way of Central Illinois
  • the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS
  • Innovate Springfield
  • Springfield Public Schools District 186
  • Lincoln Land Community College Workforce Development
  • The Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance
  • The Illinois Education Association

The purpose of the Continuum is to promote policies, programs, practices, and public attitudes that ensure:

  • All young children in our community are ready to learn
  • All young adults in our community are ready to enter the world of work
  • All residents are ready to succeed because they have the necessary skills and knowledge

The Continuum partnership is guided by five core aspirations that it believes everyone should endorse:

  • To have every child ready for kindergarten
  • To have every K-5 student performing at or above grade level
  • To have every high school student graduate with a plan for the future
  • To increase post-secondary educational attainment
  • To have all residents of the county achieve their highest employment potential as a result of the learning they have acquired

Sangamon Success

In 2015, the Continuum of Learning published the Sangamon Success report as a roadmap for community organizations, lawmakers, and funders to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable children in the Sangamon County community. The reports included 25 recommendations regarding health, social-emotional learning, and education.

History of the Continuum of Learning

The Continuum of Learning arose out of concerns among local leaders about the United States' slipping in global rankings of educational attainment and labor market changes necessitating a more educated workforce.  In light of this emerging reality, they wondered:  what should and could Sangamon County be doing to assure that its children, teenagers, and young adults are progressing successfully through each stage of their development and poised to contribute to the region's economy?

Interest in answering this question bubbled up at different places in the community at about the same time.  There was enough intersection among those involved that it was not long before they realized they were having the same conversation and that it might be more efficient and effective to bring it all together under one umbrella.  When it was formed in 2005, the Continuum of Learning was initially a partnership among the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Central Illinois, and, later, the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership, in addition to dozens of community volunteers.

In 2015, through the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership's efforts, the Continuum of Learning released the Sangamon Success report, a set of 25 recommendations for improving education outcomes for youth who are less-advantaged in Sangamon County through evidence-based programs.  With this shift toward using research evidence to inform the Continuum of Learning's decision-making, in 2016 the Sangamon Success report became the first road map for Innovate Springfield's Social Innovation Program.  In 2017, Innovate Springfield, Springfield Public Schools District 186, and Lincoln Land Community College's Workforce Development joined the Continuum's Leadership Council.  At the same time, the Continuum launched its Community Partners Network, a group of service providers and community members who serve as a sounding board and meet quarterly to provide feedback on the Continuum's strategic direction.

    CoL Leadership Council

    Leaders of the core seven organizations and educational leaders in the community serve on a Leadership Council that guides and oversees the work of the Continuum, particularly the implementation of the Sangamon Success recommendations.

    • John Kelker (Chair) - United Way of Central Illinois 

    • Jennifer Gill - Springfield Public Schools District 186

    • Katrina Hays - United Way of Central Illinois

    • Chris Hembrough - Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce

    • Molly Lamb - UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership

    • Ryan McCrady - Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance

    • Hillary Rains - Innovate Springfield

    • Stacy Reed - Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln

    • John Stremsterfer - Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln

    • Diana Zaleski - Illinois Education Association

    CoL Community Partners Network

    The Continuum of Learning Community Partners Network is comprised of service providers and community members who serve as a sounding board on strategies for supporting youth who are less-advantaged in our community.

    • Harry Berman - HJB Higher Education Consulting

    • Paula Crouch - Springfield Police Department

    • Sarah Graham - Land of Lincoln Workforce Alliance

    • Teresa Haley - Springfield NAACP

    • Collin Hitt - SIU School of Medicine

    • Juan Huerta - City of Springfield Community Relations

    • Marcus Johnson - Springfield Urban League

    • Dave MacDonna - Sangamon County Department of Public Resources

    • Brad Polanin - Riverton CUSD #14

    • Laura Rhodes - Lincoln Land Community College Child Development Center

    • Diane Rutledge - District Leadership Solutions

    • Josh Sabo - Heartland Continuum of Care

    • Stephanie Standish - Sangamon County Department of Public Health

    • Sameer Vohra - SIU Medicine Office of Population Science and Policy

    • Heather Whetsell - SIU School of Medicine

    • Dan Wright - Sangamon County State's Attorney

    • Matt Yarnell - SIU Medicine Office of Community Care