Welcome to I-WIN

The Illinois Work-Based Learning Innovation Network is designed to:

  • Highlight and explore innovative models for work-based learning with a current focus on virtual opportunities.
  • Engage in conversations on creating sustainable, high-quality models that provide broader and more equitable access to work-based learning, building social capital for Black and Latinx students.
  • Build connections among communities to offer best practices, learnings, and resources.
  • Identify needs for state policy changes or support systems.

Join school districts and community colleges across the State as we share learnings about leveraging innovative models for scaling high-quality work-based learning opportunities. Download the overview to share with your colleagues.

I-WIN Events

November 16, 2021

WBL Continuum in Education: I-WIN November 2021 Community of Practice

I-WIN's November community of practice on November 16 focused on experiences along the work-based learning continuum in the Education sector.

September 20, 2021

WBL Continuum in Health Sciences: I-WIN September 2021 Community of Practice

I-WIN's September 2021 convening focused on experiences along the work-based Learning continuum in the Health Sciences sector. View the recording.

June 23, 2021

Designing Experiences Along the WBL Continuum: I-WIN Summer 2021 Workshops

Review recordings from the I-WIN Design Workshops for Career Exploration, Team-Based Challenges, and Career Development Experiences.

May 25, 2021

Reflections & Innovations: I-WIN May 2021 Community of Practice

The May 2021 I-WIN session featured community presentations from the Mayor's Employer Advisory Council in Evanston and North Chicago Community High School on their processes to shift typically in-person WBL events to fully virtual opportunities.

April 20, 2021

Host/Partner Engagement: I-WIN April 2021 Community of Practice

The April 2021 I-WIN session featured community presentations from Alignment Rockford and Chicago Public Schools on engagement with partners who host work-based learning experiences including recruitment, ongoing support, and celebration of their partnerships.

March 9, 2021

Data Insights & Models: I-WIN March 2021 Community of Practice

The March 2021 I-WIN session included a review of lessons and insights from collecting, analyzing, and reporting on metrics related to work-based learning from the Great Lakes College and Career Pathways Partnership and a review of emerging ISBE expectations for reporting related to the College and Career Readiness Indicator, the College and Career Pathways Endorsement, and Perkins.

January 21, 2021

Advancing Equity Through Work-Based Learning: I-WIN January 2021 Community of Practice

The January 2021 I-WIN convening includes a review of the Brookings report on how work-based learning can advance equity and opportunity, as well as a presentation from Here to Here on the value and impact of work-based learning to address educational equity and opportunity gaps.

December 1, 2020

Career Development Experiences in Health Sciences: I-WIN December 2020 Community of Practice

The December 2020 convening of I-WIN included an overview of Career Development Experiences plus presentations by BJC Healthcare and Woodruff Career & Technical Center.

October 28, 2020

Kick-Off: I-WIN October 2020 Community of Practice

Policy & Program Manager Heather Penczak provided an overview of work-based learning and the I-WIN initiative, plus guest speakers from Career Connect Washington, GCAMP, and Science Olympiad shared experiences and resources.

Statewide Team-Based Challenge Resource Bank

To support the creation of innovative team-based challenges, I-WIN is providing a statewide resource bank with ideas and examples from Illinois schools. Explore the resources and then download the template and submit your own exemplar.

Submit a Team-Based Challenge


Have a resource, model, or activity to share?

Work-Based Learning Fundamentals

Report cover for the "Recommended Technical and Essential Employability Competencies for College and Career Pathway Endorsements," released in April 2020. Cover includes the PWR Act logo and the Seal of the State of Illinois.

Recommended Technical and Essential Employability Competencies

The competencies set forth in this document were developed through an iterative process involving public-private steering committees established pursuant to the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR) Act in order to implement College and Career Pathway Endorsements.

Report cover for "Career Development Experience Toolkit"

Career Development Experience Toolkit

The Career Development Experience (CDE) Toolkit, released in Fall 2019, adheres to the framework of the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act for College and Career Pathway Endorsements. The guide and online resources are designed to serve any organization that seeks to provide rigorous work-based learning opportunities to youth. Career Development Experiences are part of Illinois’ broader work-based learning continuum and refer to a broad array of experiential learning that addresses the components included in the statutory definition of the Career Pathways Dictionary.

Career Development Experience Toolkit Companion Piece

The purpose of this extension is to explore career development experiences (CDE) and provide resources to address the needs of stakeholders outside of a traditional high school setting including workforce development organizations, community-based organizations, and alternative high schools. This companion piece targets these organizations and employers in order to serve youth more inclusively.

Report cover for "Career Pathways Dictionary: A Unified State Framework for COllege and Career Readiness and Success." Cover includes the Seal of the State of Illinois and the logo for Work Learn Grow: Pathways to the Jobs of Illinois' Future.

Career Pathways Dictionary

Career pathways in Illinois are administered by a variety of private, state, and local entities; and thus several state education and workforce committees, including an extensive base of stakeholders, developed agreed-upon definitions to ensure alignment across agencies, legal frameworks, and initiatives.

Illinois State Board of Education: WBL Manual

This manual provides guidance for creating and improving work-based learning opportunities for K-12 students. Activities are designed to introduce Career Exploration as soon as possible, build increasingly interactive experiences, and maximize student exposure to careers and work-based learning opportunities by the time they complete secondary education.​ This resource is a living document and ISBE would value any feedback or resources as they continue to keep guidance updated.

Virtual Resources, Models, and Activities

We seek to provide high-quality work-based learning opportunities whether we are meeting with students in-person or remotely. Virtual experiences can create equitable environments for students to access these opportunities, but where to begin? Explore the resources we’ve curated for introducing virtual activities and experiences along the work-based learning continuum:

Related Webinars

Through a partnership between Education Systems Center at NIU and Practera, Illinois communities have free access to pilot the platform through SY21-22. Practera is a customizable, web-based application that brings together educators, employers, and students for structured virtual and hybrid work-based learning. Practera is best suited to support Team-Based Challenges and Career Development Experiences.

Want to learn more? Ready to become a pilot site? Complete the interest form.

Heather Strom and David Osborne from the Illinois State Board of Education present on defining and exploring options to incorporate the full continuum of work-based learning into CTE programs and provide insights on the new Workplace Experience courses that ISBE has introduced.

Watch the Recording

Given at the ICCB Forum for Excellence, this presentation is centered on how virtual work-based learning, needed now to address our current safety and health needs, can and should be designed for sustainability and equity for long-term use because of the way that virtual WBL helps break down common barriers like transportation and expands the type of partner sites and mentors that communities can engage with to offer WBL. The presentation provides sample activities, resources, and community models for ensuring authentic, high-quality WBL in a virtual setting. Participants are prompted to think through various factors in their design process for virtual WBL to address the needs of all stakeholders and ensure that these opportunities are expanding access, especially to students with limited social capital. The presentation also provides an overview of the Illinois Work-Based Learning Innovation Network that is piloting use of a virtual platform in communities across Illinois. Presented by Heather Penczak, Carl Schneider, and Nikki James.

Download the slide deck.

Presented during the 2020 College Changes Everything Conference, this session explores and provides resources on how to create work-based learning experiences that engage youth in meaningful and authentic tasks, while also providing opportunities for them to take initiative and offer new perspectives in the workplace. Hear from community representatives who are actively engaged in collaborative partnerships that set expectations and provide support for an assets- and needs-based approach to professionally develop youth.

Moderator: Heather Penczak, Policy & Program Manager, Education Systems Center
Presenters: Jennifer Irvin, School-Community Education Partner at BJC Healthcare; Tana Francellno, Career Partnership Manager, Youth Job Center; Neil Gambow, Chair – Mayor’s Employer Advisory Council, Evanston, IL; Marc Battista, Associate Vice President of Workforce Education, Oakton Community College

View the webinar presentation (scroll to “Collaborative Partnerships: Engaging and Supporting Youth in Work-Based Learning”)

Download the slide deck.

Hosted by the Illinois 60 by 25 Network

Download the slide deck

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