Washington Research Institute (WRI) was founded in 1987 by two professors from the University of Washington’s College of Education. Their goal was to create an independent agency to conduct research, development and training in education and the human services with high professional standards and a quick response to the latest developments in the field..

Two grants were written and within a few months, two grants were received. These grants funded activities of national scope: a study of the relationship between funding and quality in Head Start programs and an evaluation of federally funded programs serving victims of child abuse and neglect. In August of 1988, WRI opened its doors in the 180 Building of the Canal Place Office Park, just west of the Fremont Bridge in Seattle.

In 1994, having outgrown the original office space, WRI moved to its current location in the 150 Building of the Canal Place Office Park on Nickerson Street. The move to the building next door welcomed in a new era for the organization. After six years, WRI had attracted a committed and highly productive staff, a full-time Executive Director, two secretaries, and a growing reputation in the field of special education.

How WRI Works

WRI serves as the fiscal and administrative agent for all grants and contracts received by the Institute. All of our senior research staff are supported by research, development, and training grants that they develop individually or in teams. Research associates are hired as needed for individual grants and work under the direction of a senior researcher.

Many of our grants involve partnerships with other agencies. Sometimes these relationships include subcontracts. Most frequently community agencies and school districts do not have a financial relationship with WRI and serve as development and research sites. For example, preschool classrooms in Seattle School District and Northwest Center Child Development Program served as development and evaluation sites when Drs. Angela Notari-Syverson and Rollanda O’Connor developed Ladders to Literacy, an emergent literacy curriculum. On some occasions WRI subcontracts with other agencies. For example, our Language is the Key project subcontracted with UWTV (University of Washington Television) to produce video tapes.

WRI is governed by a Board of Directors, chaired by Mr. William Attebery. Our Executive Director is Ms. Kathy Jenkins who reports to the Board of Directors, supervises staff and manages all administrative matters.

Our Mission and Objectives

In 1988, our Board of Directors adopted the following mission statement.

The Washington Research Institute (WRI) is a center for research, development, and training in education and the human services. WRI was established in 1987 as a non-profit corporation in Washington State. The institute’s founders and staff are professionals in the fields of education, psychology, social work, public health, and other areas engaged in basic and applied research, model program development, and evaluation. A major goal of the Institute is to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities and their families.

WRI staff are committed to addressing the needs of unserved and underserved children and families, and to posing research questions that will stimulate policies responsive to their needs. Among the objectives of current and planned WRI efforts are the following:

  • To conduct research in a wide range of human service delivery systems
  • To study and seek solutions for problems encountered in educational settings, from infant to postsecondary programs
  • To evaluate innovative approaches to educational and human service delivery problems
  • To develop and evaluate effective programs that improve services for persons with disabilities and their families
  • To develop and evaluate effective programs for students who are unable to function successfully in their instructional settings, including instructional procedures to enhance learning and to increase participation in school
  • To develop and evaluate programs designed to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities in community life and employment, including support services to increase social integration and participation
  • To provide consultation, training, and technical assistance to educational and human service professionals and agencies
  • To disseminate information generated by WRI studies to professional and general audiences through presentations and publications.