The Research Institute


The Research Institute (TRI)

The Research Institute (TRI) at Western Oregon University improves the quality of life for individuals by facilitating positive change in education, health, and human services systems.

To attain this vision, TRI conducts a comprehensive multi-disciplinary program of research, evaluation, program/model training, development, technical assistance, direct service, and dissemination serving both typical and special populations of all ages at the local, state, regional, and national levels.

TRI is guided by partnerships with consumers, families, and practitioners and measures the effectiveness of its work by the impact on their lives.

TRI is committed to ensuring equality and valuing diversity, essential elements to the fulfillment of the institutional mission. TRI promotes excellence by working to ensure access to fully inclusive environments in order for all staff to achieve their professional and personal goals.

Commitment to Equity

TRI is committed to ensuring equity and diversity are valued in all aspects of our work. We believe that promoting excellence requires creating fully inclusive environments where all staff can thrive and contribute to their fullest potential that honors their background, identity, and lived experience. We believe that diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences enrich our research, enhance our projects, and contribute to innovative solutions that address the complex challenges facing our communities.

TRI strives to cultivate a culture of respect, fairness, and belonging where every individual feels valued, supported, and empowered to succeed. We are dedicated to creating opportunities for others to achieve their professional and personal goals, and we actively work to remove barriers that may hinder their advancement.

TRI remains committed to ongoing learning, growth, and action. Together, we are dedicated to creating a future where our work is guided by equity, diversity is embraced, and inclusion serves as the foundation of our collective success.

Center on Workforce and System Development

The Center on Workforce and System Development works to develop, partner and engage with communities to support our early learning system through technical assistance and system implementation.

Central Coordination of Child Care Resource and Referral

Central Coordination of Child Care Resource and Referral provides leadership and technical assistance for 15 CCR&R programs serving all counties in Oregon. Our mission includes supporting families and early childhood child care and education providers in meaningful and responsive ways.

Find Child Care Oregon

One of the most important decisions your family will ever make is choosing child care. Find Child Care Oregon provides child care referral information and resources to help you to make the best decision when choosing a child care program that meets the needs of your family. *referrals are not recommendations*

Child Care Substitutes of Oregon

Child Care Substitutes of Oregon (CCSO) is Oregon’s statewide substitute system for early learning programs. CCSO provides early learning programs 50 subsidized hours for programs to engage in professional development, appointment, or self care. Eligible programs include: Registered Family, Certified Family, Certified Centers, and Certified School-Age Centers.

Center on Early Learning Support and Innovation (CELSI)

The Center on Early Learning Support and Innovation provides resources and  support for early educators as well as research on promising practices for the field of early learning. Our projects include Spark, Oregon’s Quality Recognition and Improvement System  and the statewide Observation and Assessment System, the Start Up and Expansion and Rural Early Facility Improvement Grants for early care and learning programs.  


Spark: Quality Recognition and Improvement System (QRIS) is a program that supports  child care and early learning programs across the state. Spark recognizes, rewards and builds on what early learning and development programs are already doing well. Spark also connects programs and early educators with free tools, financial incentives, and professional advice that they can put into practice with confidence.

Spark: Observation and Assessment Team completes standardized assessments in early learning programs We use two types of assessments: the Environment Rating Scales and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). Assessors provide reports to programs based on the assessment. These tools give early educators information about high quality practices in their programs. Providers can set goals to improve the quality of their program based on information from their assessments. Any early learning program participating in Spark can request an assessment to support their quality improvement. 

Start Up and Expansion Grant

The Department of Early Learning and Care has created the Start Up and Expansion Grant as an opportunity to help address Oregon’s critical shortage of Child Care. The Research Institute at Western Oregon University is administering this grant to increase the number of child care slots by helping programs expand their operations and facilitating the opening of new child care businesses.

Rural Early Learning Facility Improvement Grant

The Rural Early Learning Facility Improvement Grant, also known as the Ford Grant is funded by The Ford Family Foundation and is available to child care provides in Coos, Curry, Douglas, Klamath and Lake counties.The project seeks to support child care programs in achieving one or more of the following goals: become licensed and serve more children, increase licensed capacity and serve more children, and provide a safer or more appropriate indoor and or outdoor environment for children. To learn more, please contact

Financial Supports

The Financial Supports contract provides reimbursements and stipends for licensed and license exempt providers. These funds aim to provide assistance with meeting licensing requirements and to assist providers in paying for professional development. Providers may fill out and submit their request for reimbursement or payment at the Secure Portal.

Center on Research, Evaluation, and Analysis (CREA)

The Center consists of evaluators, researchers, and data managers with broad experience and expertise in program management, evaluation, and research. CREA has a long and solid history of providing quality evaluation and research for public and private agencies across Oregon, the Northwest, and nationally. Since its inception, CREA has contracted with clients across a broad geographic and professional spectrum, providing rigorous, client-responsive evaluations and needs assessments generating information and evidence on which to make decisions.

If you are interested in our evaluation services please contact Center Director Patrick Aldrich at

Traffic Safety Education

Oregon has one of the best Driver Education instructor-training programs in the entire nation. Western Oregon University is a proud recipient of a grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation – Transportation Safety Office (ODOT-TSO).  Thanks to this grant, we are able to: Provide training and mentoring to adult instructors to prepare them to teach teen novice drivers; Certify and re-certify instructors to teach in ODOT-TSO approved driver education programs; Offer an annual regional conference called the PacNW Driver and Traffic Safety Conference; and make revisions to the Oregon Driver Risk Prevention Curriculum known as the Playbook.

Protactile Language Interpreting (PLI) Evaluation

​The Protactile Language Interpreting National Education Program (PLI) is part of the Research and Resource Center with Deaf communities ​at Western Oregon University. PLI’s educator team consists of individuals who are involved in Protactile Language research, education, and training, and are considered native language models.

Western Oregon University Title III Evaluation
Pacific Lutheran University S-STEM Project
Internal TRI Evaluation Projects
  • Spark Evaluation
  • CCSO Evaluation
  • Start Up and Expansion Grant Evaluation