Who We Are

Raising Illinois is a collective effort to close the opportunity gap for our earliest learners.

We are a public-private partnership of diverse individuals and organizations across Illinois committed to supporting our youngest generation by ensuring families can access high-quality health care, engage in quality learning experiences and establish economic security. Together, we must address the root causes of disparities and create an equitable and cohesive early childhood development support system for expecting families, infants and toddlers and the communities in which they live. We believe that the opportunities and success a child experiences in life should not be determined by their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or ability.

600x600 Bubbles

A National Movement to Amplify Voices of New Parents & Early Learning and Care Providers

Raising Illinois is part of a national movement of 20 states and communities funded by the Pritzker Children’s Initiative to amplify the voices and experiences of new families and early learning and care providers to make powerful and positive change for generations of infants and toddlers. 

Driving Bold & Collective Action on Behalf of Illinois' Families

We are grateful to Robert R. McCormick Foundation, W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation and Irving Harris Foundation for supporting the creation of the Illinois Prenatal to Three Agenda, and to JB and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation for ongoing support of Raising Illinois to drive bold and collective action on behalf of Illinois’ families.  

This is a public and private effort. We are so grateful for our ongoing collaboration with administrative agencies at the state and local levels, as well as leadership from the Office of the Governor and members of the General Assembly. As a member-driven initiative, Start Early oversees strategic and operational management of Raising Illinois, while our lead facilitating organizations convene our various policy work groups.

Our Vision

Every expecting family, infant and toddler in Illinois should have equitable access to affordable high-quality learning experiences, health services and economic supports that they need during their most formative years—creating the strongest foundation for their success in school and life.

600x600 Little Girl in Yellow

How We Got Here

In 2019, a broad group of more than 100 diverse stakeholders convened to develop an ambitious, comprehensive, multi-year strategic policy agenda to ensure that Illinois’ youngest children and their families, especially those furthest from opportunity, are on a trajectory for success.  

The group identified where Illinois needs to:

  • Increase access to existing services through enrollment or expansion efforts. 
  • Improve quality of existing programs and services. 
  • Implement new services or innovations that are needed.  

In developing recommended policy priorities, we examined data, applied a racial equity lens and focused on Illinois’ priority populations. 

Building a Strong Foundation

In developing our policy objectives and driving implementation of them, our coalition took time to ground our work in guiding principles.



“If we truly want to end the racial inequities that clearly persist today, we must start at the beginning and ensure that expecting families, infants and toddlers have what they need to form a strong foundation.”

- Simone Santiago, Director, Raising Illinois


300+ Contributors &

 1000+ Champions

The Breadth of Raising Illinois

In our first three years of work, advocates across Illinois have committed to making change for Illinois' infants, toddlers and expecting families by joining the efforts of Raising Illinois. We are eager to see our reach as a collective effort extend to all corners and in all counties of the state in the coming years.


Reach numbers above last updated July 2023.

Are you ready? Learn how you can get involved.

Discover who’s moving this work forward. Learn more.