Renewing Illinois

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Renewing Illinois: Ambitious Dreams and Practical Steps to Revive the Prairie State

2019 Summit Findings (PDF)

Renewing Illinois Booklet (provided to the participants prior to summit)

The Renewing Illinois program is built around an annual summit of Illinois college students, historical case studies and commemorations, and an annual over-the-horizon seminar by leading analysts on future challenges confronting Illinois. 

The Institute hosted an inaugural summit for Illinois university students on March 28 and March 29, 2019, “Renewing Illinois: Ambitious Dreams and Practical Steps to Revive the Prairie State.” 

Thirty-five students from nine Illinois colleges and universities--both public and private--attended our inaugural summit. They came from every corner of the state and brought wide-ranging backgrounds and penetrating insights.

The students see enormous potential here but are concerned Illinois has fallen into bad habits and has failed to position itself for the long-term. They want their state to solve long-festering problems and build a strong foundation for the future. They are weary of temporizing, evasions, partial solutions, political Band-Aids, and flimsy half-fixes. They are willing to make sacrifices, including paying more in taxes, if it would help Illinois operate more effectively, create jobs, clean up the environment, and revitalize a higher education system that was once the envy of the rest of the United States. The students believe that Illinois needs more forward-looking leaders and more responsible citizens who will reward courageous policymakers and rebuke timid ones. Sweeping change will not take place overnight, but fundamental reforms and a spirit of renewal in the Prairie State must begin now. Illinois students are ready to go to work to revive their state. 

The Renewing Illinois program includes an annual “Future of Illinois” project in which leading demographers, journalists, and political analysts will be annually convened by the Institute to consider the future of Illinois. We will try to gaze over the horizon and contemplate what longer-term challenges confront the state.