Early Learning

Development and Transportation

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)

Chicago Metropolis 2020 led a successful effort to enact legislation to create and fund CMAP and assign it powers to provide effective regional planning leadership. CMAP has merged two regional agencies and will integrate land‐use and transportation planning, set regional priorities, prepare a transportation financial plan, provide a framework for infrastructure spending, and publish a new regional plan in October 2010.

Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Reform and Funding

We have been at the forefront of business‐community efforts to reform the RTA and provide funds for convenient and efficient transit. We helped draft the legislation to reform and adequately fund the RTA that passed the General Assembly in January 2008. We are now pushing the RTA and the three service boards to redesign the way transit capital dollars are allocated and improve coordination of the mass transit systems.

Capital Investments

We have promoted a sizeable capital program that would be supported by new revenue sources and make balanced investments in mass transit, roads and freight. We have actively opposed efforts to enact a program that falls short of those principles. We will continue to advocate for creation of a new state capital program, but it must be accompanied by reforms that add well considered decisions, public transparency and accountability for results.


The Chicago region, the nation’s freight hub, continues to be a bottleneck in the nation’s rail freight system. We have pressed for creative funding and effective leadership to make the region’s freight system work, and we will support legislation to create a regional freight authority to coordinate efforts to make freight movement more efficient. We helped the region’s south suburbs create a plan to capture the economic benefits associated with the freight industry, and we have engaged outside experts to help us analyze how the proposed acquisition of the EJ&E Railway would impact the regional and national economies.

Workforce Housing

Suburban Workforce Housing Initiative

“Homes for a Changing Region,” our 2005 monograph that is even more relevant today, highlighted key future trends that likely will impact the region’s housing market. Predicting a mismatch between the kinds of large lot expensive housing that suburban communities are developing and the needs of their future residents, many of whom will be moderate income workers and senior citizens, the monograph made a series of recommendations for communities to follow if they wish to meet expected market demand by creating housing at a variety of price points. To help implement those recommendations, we have been working with the region’s nine councils of government and selected one volunteer municipality in each to create housing plans that other communities can see as examples of best practices.  To date nine communities have participated in this effort, including:  Aurora, Libertyville, Oak Forest, Gurnee, Montgomery, Northlake, Blue Island, Plainfield and Woodstock.

Best Practices Initiative

We continue to encourage suburban communities to follow local best practices as they try to address workforce housing issues. Our best practices manual, first released in late 2006, has now been updated and includes over 50 specific examples of best practices in action.

Supportive Housing Policy Plan

At the request of two leading organizations that focus on reducing chronic homelessness, we worked with a State task force to develop a State Supportive Housing Plan, which will address the shelter and service needs of approximately 7,700 chronically homeless people in Illinois. This plan will be reviewed by the State Housing Task Force in November.

Foreclosure Mitigation

We have been actively involved with groups and task forces attempting to address the serious foreclosure situation in Northeastern Illinois. Part of our work has involved mapping the scope of foreclosures in several suburban communities.

Early Learning

Preschool for All:

The state’s annual budget for preschool programs is $200 million higher than when we began our work more than five years ago with other advocates of voluntary preschool for all 3‐ and 4‐year‐old children whose parents choose it.

Early‐Childhood Asset Map

In collaboration with the University of Illinois, we have created a webbased data and mapping system that for the first time gathers information to offer a picture of where young children live and where early childhood services are available. Our analysis of this data shows that DuPage, Lake and suburban Cook Counties have the largest number of children at risk of school failure without access to preschool services within the metropolitan region.

Justice and Violence

Criminal Code

We are continuing to work with the CLEAR Initiative (Criminal Law Edit, Alignment and Reform) to review and reform the Illinois Criminal Code and Code of Corrections. The CLEAR Commission had assessed code changes made over the past 40 years through legislation and court decisions, and it has developed recommendations to edit—reducing the Criminal Code’s length by one‐third— and to realign the codes to make them more understandable, consistent and just. Its work is completed, and its recommendations are being drafted. The Commission has now turned its attention to sentencing.

Juvenile Justice

Redeploy Illinois continues to produce extraordinary results, a 44 percent reduction in the number of youth sent to state correctional facilities from counties participating in Redeploy Illinois. In spite of some deeps cuts elsewhere in the state budget, the General Assembly and Governor increased the Redeploy Illinois budget and expanded the program statewide. We continue to work on the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change initiative to develop and replicate best practices in juvenile justice, producing dramatic juvenile justice reform and cultural changes in Illinois.

Child Trauma

New evidence reinforces the idea that there is a profound nexus between children exposed to violence and their future violent actions. This policy issue has moved from an emerging idea to an accepted concept. The challenge now is to define effective treatment to serve the children exposed to violence and secure resources. The research, scientific exploration and treatment are moving quickly. Illinois leads the country in fashioning policies and programs to address child trauma. That includes the formation of the Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition, which Chicago Metropolis 2020 chairs; the creation of our DVD series designed to raise awareness of this issue; and training for court personnel in Cook County.

Regional Learning

The Metropolis Index

The most recent of our four general and topical indices, was the Crime and Justice Index. The next Metropolis Index addresses the policy implications of the state's revenue sharing program. The state currently rebates more than $4 billion a year of state collected taxes back to local governments. There has been little recent debate on why we are using state funds for local governments or what state purpose is served by these transfers.

Metro Joe

Our computer game, Metro Joe, is an enjoyable, fast‐paced game, designed to help students understand the region, not just their own neighborhoods. We have developed a curriculum guide with an advisory group of Chicago Public School teachers, and it is being used in more than 100 schools as a modern day version of the Wacker Manual that accompanied the Burnham Plan.

Burnham Plan Centennial

In 2009, the region celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Plan of Chicago. The Burnham Centennial was an opportunity to raise public awareness of Chicago as a region that plans boldly and delivers on those plans. With more than 250 of Chicago’s cultural institutions, libraries and communities, we held events, exhibits, and programs to educate the public about the legacy of Daniel H. Burnham and opportunities to plan together for the region’s future success. The principal celebrations reinforced Chicago’s reputation as a place that can create and deliver on bold plans.