Social Impact

Civic Consulting Alliance And The Illinois Secretary Of Education

Taking higher education to a new level


The Illinois Secretary of Education’s office oversees education across Illinois, from early childhood to K-12 to post-secondary. The objective of the office is to create a cohesive and coherent educational trajectory for children, from cradle to career. The Civic Consulting Alliance is a partnership that works with the best private sector talent and Chicago-based nonprofits to help committed public officials solve the region’s most pressing problems. It has been supporting the Secretary of Education’s office on a variety of issues.


One of Illinois’ key strategic goals is to increase post-secondary degree attainment from 48 percent to 60 percent of the adult population by 2025. Illinois is currently off track to meet this goal. Over the course of six weeks Oliver Wyman was engaged to redesign the higher education strategy focused on an “aggressive but attainable” goal for higher degree completion. This exercise consisted of a baseline exercise to understand the current state of higher education in Illinois and how it aligns with its overall economic goals, an analysis of the root causes behind student drop off, and a set of recommendations to address student drop off, leading to high-quality degree attainment and adults ready for the workforce.

Working with the Secretary of Education gave me the opportunity to see how we can affect wide-scale social change that will both directly and positively improve the lives of people in my own city while working to equalize the overall social structure of Illinois
Jenny Zhou Oliver Wyman


As a result of the strategy developed by Oliver Wyman in coordination with the Civic Consulting Alliance, Illinois has begun implementing several of the recommendations of a higher education program, focused on increasing enrollment and completion.

It is focused on changing the trajectory of the adult population having a quality post-secondary credential. Post-secondary credentials have been defined as credentials that will have a positive economic impact on students, which includes 2- and 4-year degrees along with high-value certificates. This will have an immediate impact on adult learners seeking credentials for employment opportunities and build a lasting foundation for traditional students looking for high-quality continuing education and career prospects. Ultimately, this strategy will improve the innovative capacity necessary for Illinois to compete economically in the 21st century.