Policy and Research

Government policy and spending decisions can have a big impact on your nonprofit’s operating environment and on the health of the communities you serve. At IFF, we engage in public policy to make sure that these decisions are based on solid data, knowledge of the nonprofit sector, and hands-on experience in community development.

For nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies, we also provide data and analysis to help you make better decisions about resource allocation and real estate investment. Our goal is to ensure that your investments and programs are targeted to where they are needed most.

We are national leaders in needs assessments that measure the supply of and demand for quality schools in urban school districts. Our policy and research initiatives have informed state and local government efforts to expand quality child care in high-need areas, and led to new models for providing affordable, community-integrated housing to low-income persons with disabilities.

To learn more about IFF’s policy and research services, email or call us at 866 629 0060.

Early Childhood Care

IFF’s broader research and public policy work grew out of our efforts — more than two decades ago — to understand, invest in, and increase the availability of quality child care options for low-income families. No issue is closer to our hearts or speaks more directly to our mission.

Our research can help you understand the landscape for programs serving children from birth to school age. We measure the supply and demand for each program type (e.g., child care, infant and toddler care, Head Start, Early Head Start, and pre-kindergarten), analyze where the highest need for each of these services is, and can work with stakeholders to close the gaps identified.

We have conducted comprehensive needs assessments for Chicago, Detroit, and the state of Illinois; led community planning efforts around early childhood programs in more than a dozen Illinois communities; and helped develop and implement early childhood capital programs for the state of Illinois.


At IFF, we believe every child deserves the opportunity to attend a good school near where they live — and, with hard data and a neighborhood focus, we are working to make that happen.

Our research focuses on the location, enrollment, and academic performance of all schools — be they public, public charter, or private — and pinpoints the geographic areas where new quality schools, more resources, and public policy changes will have the most impact.

Foundations, school districts, and charter school authorizers have used our research to support data-driven education reform strategies, including in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Washington, DC.

Nonprofit Sector

We conduct independent research for and about the nonprofit sector, helping foundations, government agencies, and nonprofits themselves make better decisions about programs and services, resources, and public policy.

Research projects include:

  • Needs assessments by service and geography
  • Assessment of organizational capacity for existing or new services
  • Qualitative analysis of nonprofit service delivery and client experience
  • Program evaluation
  • Nonprofit financial trends, financial health, and financial management
  • Analysis of population and economic trends
  • Data to support strategic planning
  • Mapping and analysis of program data