Founding Executive Director William C. Bosher Jr., Ed.D., designed the institute to fill the need for a university-based educational policy research unit that focuses on Virginia and provides analysis for elected leaders and specialized training for education professionals. In 2017, institute became an ongoing program of the Office for Public Policy Outreach in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.
Since its inception, CEPI's has:
- Managed and implemented grants on behalf of the Virginia departments of Education, Health and Juvenile Justice Services.
- Provided leadership in Virginia’s implementation of the State Action for Education Leadership Project through the Wallace Foundation. The project resulted in a legislative commission on the future of education leadership as well as training modules for use by colleges and universities.
- Acted as co-primary investigator for a $5 million National Science Foundation grant.
- Provided resource management reviews for local school systems throughout the commonwealth and North Carolina.
- Sponsored an annual Education Law Conference from 2003 to 2009.
- Conducted an annual training for state assembly education committee staffers from Virginia and three neighboring states from 1998 to 2002.
- Published an annual Commonwealth Education Poll that began in 2000.
- Published General Assembly Updates, a newsletter covering education issues during each legislative session.
- Completed policy analysis projects for clients ranging from Virginia governors to local school boards.