About the Education Coalition of Macon County


What is the Education Coalition of Macon County (EdCo)?

The Education Coalition of Macon County believes the extraordinary challenge of helping all children learn at high levels and become prepared for life-long success demands an increased role for business, educators, parents and others outside the school room. The extraordinary reward of meeting this challenge is an improved quality of life for all residents and increased prosperity for the region. We use the collective impact model of working differently as a community to achieve community solutions to a high priority concern.

Our Mission: To mobilize the community to improve Macon County through education.


Since 2007 the Education Coalition has been committed to its mission of improving the community through education. Education was the clear priority issue from a survey conducted in 2005 by the Community Foundation of Macon County. Further conversations at that time revealed three overarching areas for improvement:

All Children Ready for Kindergarten
Grade to Grade Readiness
College and Career Readiness

The Decatur Area Education Coalition was commissioned in 2007 to draw the community into a discussion about improvement of education systems and outcomes through a collaboration of providers and coordination of resources. In its first five years the Coalition, branded EdCo, convened three teams to achieve the stated vision, “Coalition organizers want Decatur and Macon County to be recognized as one of the most educated communities in Illinois.” That three teams model has morphed into a structure of combined Collaborative Action Networks (CANs) and Communities of Practice focused on specific priority actions the community can take to improve identified education outcomes.

In 2013 the Education Coalition took on the name Education Coalition of Macon County to better identify the community involved in the collective impact work.

Today EdCo is committed to community-wide work to improve in the three original overarching areas.

Education Leadership Council

The Education Leadership Council is a formalized group of executive level members who are charged with setting the overall strategy for the Education Coalition, committing organizational / institutional resources to see that the right work gets done, and breaking down political or organizational barriers that inhibit the system from working effectively.  This group has representation from all of the major sectors of our community:


Chair – Wegi Stewart, President of the Community Foundation of Macon County

Dr. Paul Bloom, Vice President of Process and Chemical Research, ADM

Ryan McCrady, President,  Economic Development Corporation

Dr. Patrick White, President, Millikin University

Trent Thompson, President, Decatur Industrial Electric

Bishop Glenn Livingston, Chief Executive Officer, Robertson Charter School

Tanya Andricks, CEO, Crossing Healthcare

Matt Snyder, Regional Superintendent, Regional Office of Education for Macon & Piatt Counties

Dan Brue, Superintendent, Meridian School District

Dr. Paul Fregeau, Superintendent, Decatur Public School District

Tony Wilkins, Superintendent Administration, Ameren Illinois

Tony Brown, Lieutenant, Macon Co. Sheriff’s Office

Cindy Bardeleben, Interim Executive Director, BabyTALK


The EdCo Team

Dani Craft, Vice President, Strategic Grantmaking & Community Advancement

Dani is dedicated to community improvement through building partnerships with individuals, organizations, and businesses. Community engagement is at the heart of the Dani’s work at The Community Foundation. Dani and her husband are lifetime residents of Central Illinois and graduates of Millikin University. Dani came to The Community Foundation from the pharmaceutical industry where she garnered years of experience and expertise in various management roles. Dani gets great fulfillment in working with the partnerships and collaborations of EDCO, The Community Foundation’s most advanced initiative.

E-mail Dani


Brittani Garner, Community Initiatives Coordinator

Brittani joined EDCO and The Community Foundation of Macon County family in September 2018. She is passionate about working in nonprofit organizations and giving back to the community. Brittani is a lifelong resident of Macon County and a graduate of Decatur Public Schools and Millikin University. Prior to joining EDCO and The Community Foundation, Brittani worked at University of Illinois Extension with Macon County 4-H where she found her passion in helping educate youth in fun and creative ways. She will utilize this passion in her new role as Community Initiatives Coordinator by working with area educators and community partners to continue to fulfill EDCO’s mission of mobilizing the community to improve Macon County through education.

E-mail Brittani


Erin Reed, Administrative & Project Support Coordinator

Erin is excited to re-join the team of the Education Coalition and Community Foundation of Macon County. Erin previously worked for the organization for three years as the Communications Manager and she is happy to be back “home.” In her current role, Erin will support and coordinate the initiative projects of the organization, and manage the daily activities of the office. Erin is a lifelong Decatur area resident, and a graduate of Maroa-Forsyth High School. Erin successfully completed her Bachelor’s degree at DePaul University. Erin is thrilled to be working for EdCo once again; she is passionate about community improvement and helping mentor the young students to become leaders of tomorrow.

E-mail Erin


Shannon Mittleman, Director, Decatur Teacher Education Pipeline

National Center for Urban Education, College of Education-Illinois State University

Shannon came to EdCo in June of 2015 as part of a collaborative partnership between Illinois State University, EdCo, and Decatur Public Schools to address the high attrition rate of teachers from urban schools. As Director for the Decatur Teacher Education Pipeline, a program modeled after the successful Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline out of ISU, Shannon works to cultivate and sustain innovative, resilient, and effective educators for DPS61. Prior to her work with the university, Shannon served in both leadership and teaching roles in Decatur. Though originally from Oklahoma, Shannon and her family have called Decatur home for the past 15 years. Her two children have attended Decatur Public Schools since kindergarten and she is a proud supporter of the district.

E-mail Shannon

7 hours ago

Education Coalition of Macon County

We are super excited to announce the 3rd Annual Civic Discourse Week will be April 1-6, 2019. This year’s theme is “How Trauma Affects our Community: a thoughtful examination”. Stay tuned for events to drop tomorrow! And share, share, share! This is such an important conversation and we want everyone to join us!

Thanks to our many community partners: Richland Community College, Decatur Public Library, Crossing Healthcare, Macon County CASA, the Trauma Informed Partnership of Macon-Piatt Counties, and Decatur Public Schools, District 61.
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2 days ago

Education Coalition of Macon County

There is a science to trauma-informed education. It is not just a bunch of "feelings."

Experiencing a traumatic event can change the wiring of the brain. 2 out of 3 students will experience a traumatic event before they turn 18.

If trauma is changing their brains, then we have to change the way we teach.

Check out this post to learn more about how trauma can affect the brain.

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5 days ago

Education Coalition of Macon County
The state of Illinois offers four unique and special pathways to obtain agriculture degrees—choose the program
that best fits you and your goals in life!

"The state of Illinois offers four unique and special pathways to obtain agriculture degrees—choose the program
that best fits you and your goals in life!"The demand for graduates with degrees in agricultural related fields is high!

We are celebrating #nationalagweek by highlighting the unique pathways to obtaining agricultural degrees in Illinois. We’re already looking forward to meeting our next class of ag graduates! Find out more info at aces.illinois.edu/blog/keeping-our-best-illinois
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6 days ago

Education Coalition of Macon County
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Our staff book club’s March read is the New York Times bestseller Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service by Gary Sinise.

In 2018, 92% of our donor advised fund grants benefited Illinois nonprofits, but our generous donors also supported philanthropic projects throughout the world, including the Gary Sinise Foundation.

We enjoy learning more about the projects, organizations and foundations that motivate our donors to give. The Gary Sinise Foundation serves our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need.

If you’d like to read about the impactful work of this foundation, be one of the first 3 to comment below and we’ll give you a copy! #WhatWereReading #GratefulAmerican #MaconCountyGives
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