Research

IFF provides data and analysis to help nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies make better decisions about resource allocation and real estate investment. Many of our reports are available for free download below.

Early Child Care and Education

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.

Schools

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, D.C.

Nonprofit Sector

IFF conducts 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; analysis of population and economic trends; data to support strategic planning; and mapping and analysis of program data.

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

Our Studies

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Raising Quality, Promoting Equity: An Analysis of Location, Performance, and Investment in Illinois Public Schools

Research Type: Schools · Published: 2017

This September 2017 report by IFF maps the substantial need for high-performing public schools across the state and provides essential data on the adequacy and equity of recent funding levels. It also explores the effectiveness of district spending. Combined, the study’s three components recommend a more holistic approach to school improvement by providing state, regional, and local education leaders with an important framework for action: (1) A Needs Assessment that quantifies and prioritizes the need for high-performing schools across the state; (2) An analysis of District Funding that gauges the adequacy and equity of school district funding in the years prior to the adoption of an evidence-based funding formula; and (3) A discussion of Return on Investment (ROI) that measures the effectiveness of school district spending for boosting core performance outcomes.

A Shared Responsibility: Ensuring Quality Education in Every Cleveland Neighborhood

Research Type: Schools · Published: 2015

This study, released in 2015, identifies the 11 zip code areas in Cleveland with the greatest need for high-performing seats. Ultimately, we find that Cleveland needs about 48,000 seats in high-performing schools and over 60 percent of those are concentrated in the 11 high-need areas. Made possible through the support of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, IFF’s report was commissioned to help inform the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s facilities master plan update.

Quality Schools: Every Child, Every School, Every Neighborhood

Research Type: Schools · Published: 2012

This study, released in 2012, assesses location and performance of charter and traditional public schools in Washington, DC. It is a supply and demand analysis based on current and projected performance data that provides information to guide education reform and to maximize the impact of resource allocations. This study was commissioned by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education of Washington, DC and funded by the DC Public Education Fund through a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.

Early Care and Education: The Top 10 Counties, Municipalities, and Chicago Community Areas in Need of Care

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2011

Modeled on IFF’s 2003 statewide needs assessment for early care and education (ECE), Moving Towards A System, this report finds significant gaps for all types of care and ranks counties, larger municipalities, and Chicago community areas according to their overall need, as well as to their need of specific programs, such as general child care, Head Start and Early Head Start, and PreK.

Here and Now 2: Change We Can Measure

Research Type: Schools · Published: 2010

This report examines citywide and community area changes in the number of performing schools in Chicago’s 77 neighborhood areas between 2004 and 2008. It also documents the contribution of charter and other new schools under Renaissance 2010. Like the 2004 Here and Now study, this study is based on the premise that all Chicago students should have academically performing schools within or near the community area in which they live.

Denver Public Schools: Locating Quality and Access

Research Type: Schools · Published: 2010

This report, produced by IFF and commissioned by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), provides essential new information on the relationship between the location of and enrollment in Denver public schools that meet the 2009 School Performance Framework (SPF) standards. It is designed primarily to identify and highlight those areas with the largest number of school-age children and the fewest seats in schools that meet SPF standards.

Lake County Nonprofit Health and Human Services Study

Research Type: Nonprofit Sector · Published: 2010

In 2010, The Lake County Community Foundation, in partnership with Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County, the College of Lake County, and the United Way of Lake County, contracted with IFF to research the health and human services provided by nonprofit organizations in Lake County, Illinois. This series of 18 maps presents a visual record of the assets and gaps found. Coupled with demographic and income data, the maps and accompanying presentation show existing resources and where additional services are needed across the county.

Choosing Performance: An Analysis of School Location and Performance in Milwaukee

Research Type: Schools · Published: 2009

This report analyzes the performance, location, and enrollment of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), charter schools and certain private schools participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) in 2008-2009. The study determines that most children do not attend or live near a school that meets the Wisconsin State Standard.

Missouri Nonprofits: Building Capacity for the 21st Century

Research Type: Nonprofit Sector · Published: 2008

Conducted in partnership with the Nonprofit Services Center in St. Louis, MO, this survey establishes a baseline of data on the finances and management of small to midsized nonprofits that provide direct services to the Missouri public.

Public School in St. Louis: Place, Performance, and Promise

Research Type: Schools · Published: 2008

This study analyzes the performance, location, and enrollment of both public schools and charter schools in St. Louis in 2007-08. The study – Place, Performance, and Promise – determined that St. Louis students have limited access to a quality school in their neighborhood. The report was produced by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) and IFF, in conjunction with the St. Louis Mayor’s Office.

2014 Update: Click here to see updated maps of highest-need areas for the 2014-15 school year.

Putting Performance on the Map: Locating Quality Schools in the Kansas City, Missouri School District

Research Type: Schools · Published: 2008

This report identifies the five zip code areas in Kansas City with the greatest need for performing schools as determined by comparing current school enrollment, the school-age population, and school performance across the district. Ultimately, we find that 85 percent of KCMSD students do not attend a school that meets Missouri state standards for academic performance, and that the majority of those student reside in just five KCMSD neighborhood areas.

2014 Update: Click here to see updated maps of highest-need areas for the 2014-15 school year.

Opportunities and Challenges: A Community Perspective on Nonprofit Services for Latinos and Community Need

Research Type: Nonprofit Sector · Published: 2007

A study by IFF and Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights documents the extent of services and gaps in capacity in the Chicago metropolitan area in order to understand government and philanthropic funding needed for future service enhancement and expansion.

Early Childhood Needs Assessment:

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2007

The Building Blocks reports were completed by IFF, with support from the Grand Victoria Foundation, to help local Illinois communities establish a strong infrastructure of community providers that deliver and support early education programs and a plan to accommodate future growth.

Early Childhood Needs Assessment: Woodridge

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2007

The Building Blocks reports were completed by IFF, with support from the Grand Victoria Foundation, to help local Illinois communities establish a strong infrastructure of community providers that deliver and support early education programs and a plan to accommodate future growth.

Early Childhood Needs Assessment: Willowbrook Corner

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2007

The Building Blocks reports were completed by IFF, with support from the Grand Victoria Foundation, to help local Illinois communities establish a strong infrastructure of community providers that deliver and support early education programs and a plan to accommodate future growth.

Early Childhood Needs Assessment: Wheeling

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2007

The Building Blocks reports were completed by IFF, with support from the Grand Victoria Foundation, to help local Illinois communities establish a strong infrastructure of community providers that deliver and support early education programs and a plan to accommodate future growth.

Early Childhood Needs Assessment: West Chicago

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2007

The Building Blocks reports were completed by IFF, with support from the Grand Victoria Foundation, to help local Illinois communities establish a strong infrastructure of community providers that deliver and support early education programs and a plan to accommodate future growth.

Early Childhood Needs Assessment: Round Lake

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2007

The Building Blocks reports were completed by IFF, with support from the Grand Victoria Foundation, to help local Illinois communities establish a strong infrastructure of community providers that deliver and support early education programs and a plan to accommodate future growth.

Early Childhood Needs Assessment: LaSalle County

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2007

The Building Blocks reports were completed by IFF, with support from the Grand Victoria Foundation, to help local Illinois communities establish a strong infrastructure of community providers that deliver and support early education programs and a plan to accommodate future growth.

Early Childhood Needs Assessment: Joliet

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2007

The Building Blocks reports were completed by IFF, with support from the Grand Victoria Foundation, to help local Illinois communities establish a strong infrastructure of community providers that deliver and support early education programs and a plan to accommodate future growth.

Early Childhood Needs Assessment: Glendale Heights

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2007

The Building Blocks reports were completed by IFF, with support from the Grand Victoria Foundation, to help local Illinois communities establish a strong infrastructure of community providers that deliver and support early education programs and a plan to accommodate future growth.

Early Childhood Needs Assessment: Franklin Park and Melrose Park

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2007

The Building Blocks reports were completed by IFF, with support from the Grand Victoria Foundation, to help local Illinois communities establish a strong infrastructure of community providers that deliver and support early education programs and a plan to accommodate future growth.

Early Childhood Needs Assessment: Addison

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2007

The Building Blocks reports were completed by IFF, with support from the Grand Victoria Foundation, to help local Illinois communities establish a strong infrastructure of community providers that deliver and support early education programs and a plan to accommodate future growth.

By Any Measure: A Report to the Community on IFF’s Work in the Field of Nonprofit Child Care in Illinois

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2007

A detailed report of IFF’s leadership role in the area of research, planning, financing, and design of child care facilities.

Getting Ready: Preparing to House Your Pre-Kindergarten Program

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2006

An interactive, online tool to help applicants for ISBE pre-kindergarten grants plan ahead for housing their program. In three steps, the tool will help an organization assess its space needs, evaluate the fit of any facility with its program goals, and identify any renovation or modification needs.

Stepping Out

Research Type: Nonprofit Sector · Published: 2006

A planning tool for developing community facilities to support the program needs of mixed-income communities. The publication is based on research conducted by the IFF, including field studies at four national community facility models.

The Economic Impact of the Early Care and Education Industry in Illinois

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2005

A study conducted by the National Economic Development and Law Center, and reported by IFF, Action for Children and Chicago Metropolis 2020. This report demonstrates for the first time the direct economic benefits of the early care and education industry as well as its long-term impact on the Illinois economy.

Here and Now: The Need for Performing Schools in Chicago’s Neighborhoods

Research Type: Schools · Published: 2004

A planning tool for government agencies and communities that ranks Chicago’s 77 community areas in terms of the need for performing public elementary and high schools, based on academic performance, space utilization, and demographics.

The Building Blocks of Design: A Handbook for Early Childhood Development Facilities

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2004

A guide and reference tool for early childhood development providers who want to improve or expand their centers. The handbook covers everything from choosing a paint color for a simple cosmetic enhancement to planning a major construction project.

Moving Towards A System: The Community Profiles Fact Book

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2003

A collection of profiles that summarize the demographic, supply, and demand data for each of the 168 communities assessed.

Getting It Right: How Illinois Nonprofits Manage for Success

Research Type: Nonprofit Sector · Published: 2003

A survey co-sponsored by IFF and the Donors Forum of Chicago on the financial health of nonprofits in Illinois. The study covers the years of 2001 to 2003 and its results highlight challenges and opportunities nonprofit organizations face.

Moving Towards A System: Tools, Benchmarks and Standards

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2003

The full report on the Statewide Early Childhood Needs Assessment that presents findings on the highest-need communities and in each area of care and education assessed.

Moving Towards A System: Preview

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2003

A preview of the full report on the Statewide Early Childhood Needs Assessment that summarizes the study’s scope, highlights findings, and provides examples of how the data can be used.

We Need More Day Care Centers

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2003

A planning tool for community organizations and government agencies, our study shows that Latina mothers want preschool child care centers in their neighborhoods.

Early Childhood Care and Education Fact Book: Planning for Chicago’s Children in the New Century

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2002

This book is a community-planning document focusing on the top 20 Chicago communities needing additional licensed child care resources.

Great Spaces, Fresh Places

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2001

Documentation of three classroom makeovers, a collaboration between IFF and The Chicago MOST Initiative.

A Century of Caring for Children

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 2000

A history of federal and state child care legislation and programs for low-income children in Illinois.

Capacity Building Digest #5 Costs of Late Government Payments

Research Type: Nonprofit Sector · Published: 1999

Out of the Illinois Nonprofits: Building Capacity for the Next Century study grew the Capacity-Building Digest series, anecdotal examinations of issues affecting the capacity of nonprofits.

Capacity-Building Digest #3 Social Entrepreneurship: The Double Bottom Line

Research Type: Nonprofit Sector · Published: 1999

Out of the Illinois Nonprofits: Building Capacity for the Next Century study grew the Capacity-Building Digest series, anecdotal examinations of issues affecting the capacity of nonprofits.

Capacity Building Digest #4 Mergers in the Nonprofit Sector

Research Type: Nonprofit Sector · Published: 1999

Out of the Illinois Nonprofits: Building Capacity for the Next Century study grew the Capacity-Building Digest series, anecdotal examinations of issues affecting the capacity of nonprofits.

Capacity-Building Digest #2 Property Tax Exemption

Research Type: Nonprofit Sector · Published: 1999

Out of the Illinois Nonprofits: Building Capacity for the Next Century study grew the Capacity-Building Digest series, anecdotal examinations of issues affecting the capacity of nonprofits.

Capacity-Building Digest #1 Building the Nonprofit Board of Directors

Research Type: Nonprofit Sector · Published: 1999

Out of the Illinois Nonprofits: Building Capacity for the Next Century study grew the Capacity-Building Digest series, anecdotal examinations of issues affecting the capacity of nonprofits.

The Chicago Early Childhood Care and Education Needs Assessment

Research Type: Early Care and Education · Published: 1999

This study, the first of its kind, ranked Chicago’s 77 communities in terms of need for full-day, licensed child care services.

Illinois Nonprofits: Building Capacity for the Next Century

Research Type: Nonprofit Sector · Published: 1998

A statewide study of the financial health of the nonprofit sector. Published in 1998 by the IFF and the Donors Forum of Chicago.