Frequently Asked Questions
How long has WestEd been in existence and what is your history?
Our agency's origins stretch back to 1966 when Congress created a network of Regional Educational Laboratories, two of which joined in 1995 to become WestEd. We continue to serve the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah as one of the nation’s 10 regional laboratories. While our regional, REL work remains central, WestEd works throughout the United States and internationally. Our headquarters are located in San Francisco, California, and we have 16 offices throughout the United States.
Is WestEd a nonprofit or for-profit organization?
WestEd is a nonprofit, public research and development agency and is tax exempt under Section 115(1) of the Internal Revenue Code. We are a Joint Powers Agency, authorized by a California Joint Powers Agreement and governed by public entities in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah, with Board members representing agencies from these states and nationally.
Does WestEd meet the giving guidelines of philanthropic organizations?
WestEd has been determined by the IRS to be a public agency performing an essential government function, exempt from income taxes under Section 115(1) of the Internal Revenue Code. Government entities and their instrumentalities are Qualified Organizations for receiving tax-deductible contributions, when those contributions — as defined under Section 170 (c) — are made exclusively for public purposes.
While WestEd is not a 501(c)(3) organization, as a public agency performing an essential governmental function, we qualify for similar federal income tax exemption benefits under Section 115(1) of the Internal Revenue Code. Because of this status, our work meets the giving guidelines of philanthropic organizations.
Is your agency a partisan organization?
No, we are a staunchly nonpartisan agency using research to address the complex challenges of education and human development.
What is your mission?
WestEd is a nonprofit research, development, and service agency that works with education and other communities to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning for children, youth, and adults.
What makes you different from other nonprofit, R&D, or social service agencies?
WestEd's goal of success for every learner is ambitious. As such, our work and services are broad in context, encompassing many fields. Through resources, services, programs, and projects, we address many issues in human development, from birth to senior care, and in education, from pre-service into the world of work. In addition, WestEd disseminates relevant, research-based knowledge targeted to the needs of key audiences. The depth, diversity, and history of our work, coupled with our extensive on-the-ground experience and focus on using research-based knowledge, gives WestEd a particular expertise in helping others.
View WestEd CEO Glen Harvey talking about our approach.
Are you a grant-making institution?
No, WestEd does not provide grants.
Who heads your agency? How is the agency governed?
Our agency is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of leaders from public and private education, business, and public service communities throughout the United States. Our board is an exceptionally diverse, experienced, and dedicated body. Board members effectively represent key stakeholders — educators, business leaders, state officials, and community members — throughout the nation with insight into their varied concerns, issues, and opportunities. The board meets quarterly and takes an active role in agency leadership and strategic planning.
How are you funded?
From the federal government to local school districts, universities to private foundations, WestEd has numerous funding sources that make our work serving schools, families, and communities possible. Our wide base of funding sources ensures that we are able to address the toughest and most enduring challenges of education and human development.
What are Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) and why are they important?
Each federally funded Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) serves 1 of 10 distinct geographic regions in the country. RELs work to develop the best knowledge from research and practice into useful services, tools, and other resources to support those involved in education improvement at the local, state, and regional levels.
With support from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (formerly the Office of Educational Research and Improvement or OERI), the laboratories work as vital partners with state and local educators, community members, and policymakers in using research to tackle the difficult issues of education reform and improvement.
Congress implemented the concept of Regional Educational Laboratories as a national resource for local and state benefit over three decades ago under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. While the laboratories have common characteristics, each laboratory has distinctive features tailored to meet the special needs of the geographic region it serves. Guided by educators, business leaders, state officials, and community members, each laboratory's work is shaped by the concerns, issues, opportunities, and special attributes of its region.
Visit the Institute of Education Sciences' Regional Educational Laboratory program website as well as our REL West website. In addition to serving as the prime contractor for REL West, WestEd serves as a subcontractor to the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands.
Who are your clients?
Our clients include national and state government, education and health agencies, local school districts, national educational associations, community and family foundations, small businesses, and other nonprofit research and service firms.
To whom do you disseminate the results/impact of your work?
Though each WestEd project is tailored to a specific purpose and audience, many audiences benefit from our research and evaluated experience, including: federal and state governments, schools and school districts, state office and education departments, universities, teacher training programs, local organizations, and the general public. Through print and electronic products, including our agency website, WestEd.org, we disseminate relevant, research-based knowledge targeted to the needs of audiences.
How is your work organized and what are your primary areas of work?
Our areas of work are organized by programs within WestEd:
- Assessment & Standards Development Services
- Center for Child & Family Studies
- Center for Prevention & Early Intervention
- Comprehensive School Assistance Program
- Evaluation Research Program
- Health & Human Development Program
- Innovation Studies
- Learning Innovations
- Policy Center
- Regional Educational Laboratory West
- Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM)
- Teacher Professional Development Program
Program directors work with project directors to capitalize on and develop staff expertise. Staff members may focus their work in one project or may contribute to several related projects.
Our work is focused in the following areas:
- Assessment, Standards, & Accountability
- Culture, Diversity, & Equity
- Early Childhood & Early Intervention
- English Learners
- Healthy Kids, Schools, & Communities
- Leadership & Teacher Professional Development
- Mathematics & Science
- Postsecondary and Career Readiness & Success
- School & District Improvement
- Special Education
- Technology & Information Services
What types of research and evaluation studies does WestEd conduct?
Our research and evaluation studies address many critical education and human development issues, ranging from assessment to technology, English learners to early childhood. Our experienced researchers employ one or more of the following methodologies for each study to match the type of evidence required by clients and stakeholders:
- Case Study
- Survey Research
What services do you offer? To whom?
At the heart of our work are the services we provide in bringing learning opportunities, consulting, and technical assistance to our clients in education and human development, including educators, school, district, and state administrators; and community agencies. We offer services, some lasting one day, some extending over time. We can help you evaluate distance learning, assess students’ science understandings, develop mentoring programs, improve your programs for English learners, or learn about resiliency, algebra, bullying, small schools, backward mapping, home visiting, etc.
These on-the-ground services are an important way for us to disseminate the research and best practices knowledge continuously developed across our agency and, equally important, to gain new knowledge from practitioners in the field.
For a complete list of the services we offer, please visit Services.
How many staff members work at WestEd and what are their areas of expertise?
WestEd has over 600 staff in 16 offices nationwide. Our diverse staff offer a wealth of expertise and experience. Among their specialties are educational assessment and accountability; early childhood and youth development; program evaluation; community building; and policy analysis.
WestEd staff come from different nations, ethnic groups, lifestyles, generations, sociocultural backgrounds, culture, and work at all levels in our organization. Our variety of staff enables WestEd to understand and communicate effectively with our equally diverse clientele. Such staff diversity significantly helps advance our agency mission of promoting excellence, achieving equity, and improving learning for children, youth, and adults.
Does the agency concern itself only with issues of education?
We recognize the lifelong and interrelated qualities of learning and healthy human development. For that reason, we focus not only on what goes on in school, but also in early childhood; in children’s homes, after-school programs, and communities; in the training and development of those who teach, guide, and/or care for our children; and in legislatures and other decision-making bodies whose policies touch all of these areas.
What types of community work does WestEd do?
WestEd works within various communities to test, evaluate, and implement institutional changes that improve education, health, and human development. Examples of our community work include working with court systems to improve referral methods for abused children, drug abusing parents, and parenting classes for families; evaluating the efficacy of new programs that serve immigrant families, and, in one community, collaborating with local service agencies to broker and focus multiple resources on improving community conditions. In all, WestEd helps mobilize communities toward positive change.
Are you involved in partnerships?
Just as the range of WestEd's work is broad, so is our list of partners extensive. We work with universities, school districts, community-based institutions, research organizations, states, private industry, and many other agencies, organizations, and companies. The expertise and resources of our partners are an invaluable asset in helping us test and implement new and innovative ideas for improving school climate and health and well-being of children and families. A list of funders and some of our partners is available in Funding Sources.
How can I work with WestEd?
We welcome the opportunity to discuss how our services and products can support your work on behalf of children, families, and communities.
In addition to subcontracting with small businesses, WestEd is an approved vendor under two federal Multiple Award, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity Task Order Contracts:
- U.S. Department of Education Streamlined Acquisition Tool (ED-SAT)
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Program Support Center Task Order (PSC)
WestEd also has a task order contract through 2015 with the General Services Administration under the Mission Oriented Business Integrated Services (MOBIS) schedule.
Visit Working With WestEd for more information.
Does WestEd issue Requests for Proposals (RFPs)?
Yes, we periodically issue RFPs for potential vendors to supply specific goods or services. For more information, visit Working With WestEd, under "Request for Proposal (RFP) Announcements."
My school, district, state, or agency is issuing a Request For Proposals and wants to include WestEd in the list of vendors. What do we do?
You can email a Request For Proposals (RFP) or other solicitation to WorkWithWested@wested.org. To learn more about ways to work together, including our federal contract vehicles, visit our Working with WestEd page. We welcome the opportunity to demonstrate how our experience and resources can help you meet your goals.
What are you doing to help agencies meet the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)?
WestEd provides a variety of support, services, and products to help states, districts, and schools meet the requirements of ESEA. WestEd offers technical assistance and development expertise in the creation and implementation of standards, assessments, and accountability. We provide technical assistance and professional development to help turn around low-performing schools and districts.
Our products and services help schools meet challenging standards in reading, math, and science, as well as strategies to meet diverse learning needs, including those of English learners and special education students. What’s more, we provide services to support the evaluation of programs to ensure that states, districts, and schools use data to continuously improve their programs and practice.
Do you engage in social media efforts?
Social media is a key component of how we interact and collaborate with our WestEd community. Facebook and Twitter, for example, are both effective tools for keeping you informed of what's happening at WestEd and, conversely, for you to interact with us. If you haven't done so already, we invite you to:
How can I get information on events that you are hosting or WestEd staff presentations?
Our Calendar on WestEd.org includes WestEd-sponsored events and external events where we will have an exhibit booth and/or where our staff are presenting, including keynote presentations.
Can I have a WestEd expert speak to my organization?
WestEd staff frequently are asked to speak on a variety of education and human development issues. Please contact WestEd's Branding & Visibility Manager to discuss the prospect of a WestEd staff expert speaking at your agency.
I want to quote a WestEd publication in my work. What permissions do I need?
It depends. If your reproduction of copyrighted material qualifies as "fair use," no permission from WestEd is required, but you must prominently cite WestEd as the copyright holder on all copies you make. If it does not qualify, you must seek permission. If you're not sure your use of copyrighted material qualifies as "fair use," call the WestEd Publications Center at 888.293.7833 or email email@example.com.
More information about requesting permission to reproduce copyrighted WestEd material is available online at WestEd.org/permissions.
Please note: Not all books, videos, DVDs, or CD-ROMs by WestEd authors are published by WestEd. In such cases, request permission directly from the copyright holder.
I want to link to a page or resource on WestEd.org. What permissions do I need?
Links to URLs on the WestEd website are free and require no permissions.
I have a book I would like WestEd to publish. What do I do?
Please visit Publish With WestEd and learn more about our publishing efforts, as well as how to submit a publication prospectus and how to prepare a requested manuscript.
What types of products and resources do you offer?
WestEd publications and other products vary from books, newsletters, and research briefs to videos, CD-ROMs, and online tools and reports. We maintain a deep backlist and publish new products quarterly. These resources reflect the knowledge and expertise developed by our programs and staff in the fields of education and human development. Check out our Bookstore for a comprehensive list of WestEd products and resources.
Do you have a newsletter or regular email that I can receive?
Yes, we have a number of ways for you to receive information and news from us. Please visit Stay Informed to receive our monthly email newsletter, resource catalog, and R&D Alert®, our award-winning newsletter covering issues affecting America's schools. All are free of charge.
Can I order multiple copies of a book for use in my classroom or professional development?
Yes. You may order as many copies of a book as you wish. Discounts are available on select titles for purchases of 25 copies or more. See individual product pages for details, or contact the WestEd Publications Center at 888.293.7833 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our school wants to increase our students' academic achievement, but we don't have much in the way of a budget. What free items do you offer?
We offer a variety of free resources containing research-based information and tips to improve student achievement. Browse through the WestEd.org Bookstore for our free online publications. Also, tool around WestEd.org to get the latest on school and district improvement news and resources.
In addition, check out these free resources:
- R&D Alert, our thrice-yearly newsletter
- E-Bulletin, our monthly e-newsletter
- SchoolsMovingUp, a website that provides quality resources to help educators make sound decisions and take tangible action in their school improvement efforts.
- REL Digest, a newsletter that highlights both the work of the Regional Educational Laboratory West (REL West) and other federally supported education research. The latest issue is located on the REL West website homepage.
- Doing What Works, a website that helps educators make research-based plans and implement those plans effectively.
To stay informed of new WestEd resources focused on school and district improvement
What's it like working at WestEd?
View this interview with CEO Glen Harvey describing what life is like at WestEd.
I am interested in career opportunities at WestEd. How can I apply for a job at your agency?
WestEd welcomes job applicants and provides an online listing of all open positions. We encourage applicants to submit employment applications online.
Don't see your question answered above?
Please write to us at contact us.