Our Goal

Illinois students should be graduating high school ready with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in life after high school—college and career. Today all high school graduates need some postsecondary education and/or training if they are to have options and opportunities in the job market. In Illinois, 8 of 10 employers say they need employees with some postsecondary education. Currently only 54.4% of Illinois residents have a high-quality post-secondary college or career credential. These realities in Illinois have driven communities to look for broader solutions to what are increasingly seen as systemic problems in the education-to-employment continuum.

The Illinois Education and Career Success Network (formerly the Illinois 60 by 2025 Network) is a growing network of communities in Illinois that are committed to advancing equitable postsecondary attainment.

The Success Network

Today, the majority of employers say they need employees with some post-secondary education. However, data shows that just over half of Illinois residents have a high-quality college degree or postsecondary credential (according to the Lumina Foundation’s Stronger Nation report).

To address this disconnect, in 2009 the Illinois P-20 Council established a goal for Illinois to increase the number of adults with high-quality college degrees and postsecondary credentials to 60% by the year 2025. While the P-20 Council and State agencies monitor this goal and focus on State policy to support it, State policy alone will not drive the local efforts needed to ensure students seamlessly progress to and through postsecondary education and into the workforce.

Recognizing the emergence of local initiatives across Illinois to increase postsecondary attainment and the lack of a statewide support infrastructure, the Illinois 60 by 25 Network was launched in 2013 by three Network Organizers: Advance Illinois, Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University (EdSystems), and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC). In 2022, the Network updated its name to the Illinois Education and Career Success Network, to express our purpose and vision for 2025 and beyond.

To increase meaningful and equitable postsecondary attainment, Network Organizers support the Leadership Communities by:

  • Hosting an annual conference
  • Providing technical assistance
  • Sharing best practices
  • Connecting local community efforts to state policy to advance equity-centered postsecondary goals
  • Building local capacity to develop and scale efforts through:
    • Providing funds to communities through mini-grants
    • Providing a Cradle to Career Dashboard to help communities analyze regional data on education and workforce system characteristics

Executive Summary

Download our one-page overview.

Logic Model

Download the Network's road map to better understand our framework.

Impact Report

Download the Impact Report released in July 2020.

Guiding Team

Since its formation in 2013, the Success Network has become a powerful peer-to-peer learning system for Illinois communities to improve college and career readiness and postsecondary completion rates. The three organizations that lead the Success Network (Advance Illinois, EdSystems and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission) have invited stakeholders from across the public, private, and non-profit sectors to serve as a Guiding Team to help guide, advise, and shape the direction of the Network in the future.

Current Members

  • Stephanie Bernoteit, Illinois Board of Higher Education
  • Mara Botman, Circle of Service Foundation
  • Amy Jo Clemens, Center for P-20 Engagement at NIU
  • Chibuzo Ezeigbo, The Joyce Foundation
  • Jason Helfer, Illinois State Board of Education
  • Darryl Hogue, Riverbend School District
  • Jennifer Irvin, BJC Healthcare
  • Lisa Jones, Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity
  • Sharon Kherat, Peoria Public Schools
  • Kim Korando, Illinois Student Assistance Commission
  • Pranav Kothari, Revolution Impact
  • Jason Leahy, Illinois Principals Association
  • Laz Lopez, District 214 & Illinois Community College Board
  • Alan Mather, Golden Apple Foundation
  • Travis McGuire, Hinckley-Big Rock CUSD #429
  • Charlie Moore, McLean County Chamber of Commerce
  • Margi Schiemann, Illinois Workforce Innovation Board & Nicor Gas
  • Audrey Soglin, Illinois Education Association
  • Susan Stanton, ACT Now
  • Sydney Stigge-Kaufman, East Side Aligned
  • Whitney Thompson, Illinois Community College Board
  • Vince Walsh-Rock, Illinois School Counselor Association

Network Organizers

Advance Illinois is a nonpartisan, nonprofit founded to be an objective voice for a public education system that prepares all students for college, career and democratic citizenship.

Education Systems Center at NIU (EdSystems) is a policy development and program implementation center that shapes and strengthens education and workforce systems that prepare more young people for productive careers in a global economy.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is the state’s college access and financial aid agency with the mission of making college accessible and affordable for Illinois students.