EC Reach Logo on white background

Early Childhood Research Alliance of Chicago

Early Childhood Research Alliance of Chicago (EC-REACH) aims to transform the way we conduct early childhood research and evaluation across the city by bringing diverse partners and collaborators together and centering community voice.

By uniting early childhood researchers, policymakers, practitioners, families, and community representatives across sectors and institutions, EC-REACH will identify and answer Chicago’s most pressing questions to build a stronger, more equitable comprehensive early childhood system.



diverse partners and collaborators to co-create a meaningful and
actionable early childhood research agenda that unites Chicago’s research and evaluation initiatives across sectors, agencies, and institutions and aligns to state-wide efforts.


and support robust research-practice partnerships that produce
research and evaluation that is relevant, timely, and useful for enhancing early childhood systems, policies, and programs.


holistic research and evaluation findings with Chicago
policymakers, program leaders, and community members in an accessible and transparent manner.


In support of the Every Child Ready Chicago initiative, Start Early began to explore the nascent concept of a Chicago early childhood research consortium or alliance in fall 2020, and published their findings in an Exploratory Report released in March 2021. EC-REACH has now moved into a planning phase (through summer 2022) led by a citywide planning committee comprised of 14 Chicago-based individuals with diverse research, policy, and practice expertise. Staffed by Start Early and facilitated by CoSpero Consulting, the planning committee will set a strong foundation for EC-REACH by:

  • Determining the mission, vision, structure, governance, and sustainability model; 
  • Guiding the engagement of a broader group stakeholders and advisors; and 
  • Identifying a home institution and initial funding sources to support the launch of EC-REACH.

You can learn more about the exploratory process and pathway to launch EC-REACH via the EC-REACH Video Overview  and PDF Overview.

Planning & Launch Committee Updates

This site aims to bring transparency to each step of the EC-REACH planning process by sharing meeting minutes, key materials, and other relevant planning committee updates.

Stay up-to-date on EC-REACH by downloading Planning Committee minutes below:

3/11/22 Retreat Notes
Planning Committee Letter of Commitment
Retreat Hot Air Balloon Activity
Retreat Sucess/Failures Activity

3/24/22 Meeting #1: Mission, Vision, Values, Decision-Making Process & Structure, Working Bodies

Meeting 1 Deck
Meeting 1 Minutes

3/29/22 Meeting #2: Research Values & Criteria, Home Institution Criteria, Data Access Principles

Meeting 2 Deck
Meeting 2 Minutes

4/14/22 Meeting #3: External Engagement Strategy, Transition Planning

Meeting 3 Deck
Meeting 3 Minutes

4/28/22 Meeting #4: Fundraising Strategy

Meeting 4 Deck
Meeting 4 Minutes
Home Institution Letter of Inquiry

5/12/22 Meeting #5: Equitable Research Values, Criteria; Data Access and Sharing Approach

Meeting 5 Deck
Meeting 5 Minutes

5/26/22 Meeting #6: Fundraising Strategy & Transition Plan

Meeting 6 Deck
Meeting 6 Minutes

10/8/22 Meeting #7: Close-out Meeting

Close-out Deck
Close-Out Minutes

Interested in learning more or helping EC-REACH on its pathway to launch? Contact Isabel Farrar,

Meet the EC-REACH Planning & Launch Committees

Meet the Launch Committee   | Meet the Planning Committee

Nataly Barrera, Acting Director of Early Learning, Mayor’s Office

Cerathel Burgess-Burnett, Deputy Commissioner,  Children Services Division, Department of Family and Support Services

Chris Chavez, Data Strategist, Chicago Public Schools

Dionne Dobbins, Vice President, Research & Evaluation

John Easton, Senior Fellow, UChicago Consortium on School Research

Jon Furr, Executive Director, Education Systems Center at NIU

Craig Maki, Chief Strategy Officer, Provisio Partners; Former CEO, Asian Human Services, Inc. 

Remsha Shah, Associate Professor, Director of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

Samantha Melvin, Assistant Research Professor, Erikson Institute

Edgar Ramirez, President and CEO, Chicago Commons Association

Terri Sabol, Assistant Professor Northwestern

Diane Schanzenbach, Professor, Northwestern University

Jennifer Vidis, Chicago Department of Public Health

With support from key advisors: Meg Bates, Anna Colaner, and Kate Tarrant

Exploration and planning for EC-REACH is made possible by generous support from:

Crown Family Philanthropies

The John and Kathleen Schreiber Foundation