Blake Wood
Publish Date

The Continuum of Learning, a University of Illinois Springfield partner, has released the Sangamon Success Progress Report. The report documents progress made over the last five years in improving outcomes for less advantaged children in Sangamon County.

In 2015, the Continuum of Learning published the Sangamon Success Report, a set of 25 recommendations meant to close opportunity gaps and improve health, social-emotional and education outcomes for children in Sangamon County. This follow-up progress report serves as a snapshot of all the progress that has been made toward those 25 recommendations in five years of dedicated community work.

The progress report shows the breadth of improvement, growth and betterment in services to Sangamon County youth.

“While not all recommendations have made progress, and some programs have had a difficult journey, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lives of many children and families have been profoundly impacted by the collaborative efforts of community agencies,” said Hillary Rains, program director for social innovation at Innovate Springfield, part of the University of Illinois Springfield.

The report documents how many children have been served by community agencies and lists future suggestions by age group. Some specific community accomplishments noted in the report include:

  • Sangamon County’s Nurse-Family Partnership, the subject of the report’s first recommendation, served 149 pregnant women and new parents between its launch in 2017 and 2020, with 83 total births during that time. The program is built on a national model that is based on years of research and evidence to improve health and education outcomes for first-time parents and their babies. One evaluation found that the Nurse-Family Partnership returns up to $5.70 to the community for every dollar invested in the program. The program took a pause during the pandemic, but plans to relaunch in the fall of 2021.
  • Sangamon County’s many home visiting programs have worked to bring healthcare and education into the homes of families in need. With so many programs, one recommendation suggested building better communication lines between agencies. SIU School of Medicine has taken on this task to implement the Integrated Referral and Intake System (IRIS). This system will track referrals and enrollment and allow organizations to better communicate with one another, avoiding duplication of services and families getting “lost” in the system. The Sangamon Home-visiting, Education and Referral Team (HEART) has organized around the effort, supporting the implementation of this promising system in the fall of 2021.
  • Sangamon County is working to address the needs of adolescents who are focused on college and career readiness. In 2018, the Continuum of Learning was accepted into the 60 by 25 Network. The 60 by 25 Network is an initiative implemented by Northern Illinois University EdSystems, Advance Illinois and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, working to have 60 percent of Illinois residents with a post-secondary degree or career certification by 2025. The knowledge and resources provided by the network will help the Continuum of Learning to coordinate, collaborate and communicate with post-secondary programs here in Sangamon County. As part of this network, Springfield Public Schools #186 received a $14,000 grant from NIU EdSystems to help pay student fees for dual credit and career certification programs in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.

Dozens of community partners including Boys and Girls Club of Central Illinois, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois, Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery and the University of Illinois Extension contributed to the report, adding data and outcomes from their programs.

“The world has changed dramatically in the last five years, but the work has never stopped,” said John Stremsterfer, president and CEO of Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln. “The programs included in the Progress Report support our most vulnerable children as they learn and grow, and we hope that this document highlights that work.”

The Continuum of Learning is made up of partners from the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Central Illinois, UIS Center for State Policy & Leadership, Innovate Springfield, Lincoln Land Community College and Springfield Public School District 186.

“As a founding partner in the development of the Continuum of Learning and the Sangamon Success Report in 2015, it’s exciting to see the work that has been accomplished and take note of areas that still need our full attention,” said John Kelker, president and chief professional officer of United Way of Central Illinois.

The full progress report is available online at

For more information, contact Hillary Rains with Innovate Springfield at 217-206-8672 or