Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Baldwin grant supports program connecting legislators, researchers to build better public policy

The Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs received funding from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment to support Committee Connect – a program that brings together researchers and policymakers early in the legislative process.

Committee Connect builds on the Wisconsin Family Impact Seminars program, which encourages state legislators and other policymakers to consider how policies affect families and provides them with high-quality, objective information from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and elsewhere. Under the direction of School of Human Ecology Professor Karen Bogenschneider for 20-plus years, the Wisconsin Family Impact Seminars program has offered more than 30 presentations, briefing reports, and discussion sessions for policymakers.

Both programs are rooted in the belief that good government should be based on hard evidence drawn from rigorous research and analysis. Upon Bogenschneider’s retirement this summer, the programs will relocate to the La Follette School under the leadership of Associate Director Hilary Shager.

“I am thrilled to bring the well-respected Family Impact Seminar and Committee Connect programs to La Follette, where they will enjoy strong institutional support and benefit from our School’s diverse affiliate network and faculty and student expertise,” said Shager. “This is a great example of the Wisconsin Idea in action, and I look forward to continuing to build strong, positive relationships between state legislators and UW-Madison researchers.”

Introduced as a pilot program in 2015, Committee Connect works with legislative leaders to identify topics of interest and with UW-Madison faculty and staff members to provide rigorous, applicable research. The program engaged 22 legislators and 34 faculty and staff during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Funding from the Baldwin Wisconsin Idea endowment ($76,281 over three years) will allow the La Follette School to hire a graduate student project assistant who supports Committee Connect. The competitive grant program is open to UW-Madison faculty, staff, and students. Nine grants and 11 mini-grants were awarded in May 2016.

Additional details on the Family Impact Seminars and Committee Connect programs will be available online later this summer.