It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Behind Rite Aid Foundation’s $2 Million Give to the Fred Rogers Company

Sometimes we stumble across a grant that simply doesn't make much sense. Perhaps the foundation and the recipient organization seem like a philosophical mismatch. Or perhaps the funding is earmarked for a cause that, if we were to apply the principles of effective altruism, isn't entirely impactful.

Meanwhile, there are other times where a grant makes perfect sense. Such is the case with the Rite Aid Foundation's KidCents program's $2 million donation to the Fred Rogers Company to support the production of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, the Emmy-nominated children's series that airs on PBS KIDS. To hear Rite Aid Corporation President Ken Martindale tell it, the grant is a textbook example of philanthropic alignment—and he's right. To see what we mean, let's look at the involved parties.

First we have the Rite Aid Foundation’s KidCents program, which was created to help Rite Aid customers support kids in their surrounding communities. Its wellness+ with Plenti program, for example, lets customers round up their in-store or online purchases to the nearest dollar and give their change to one of more than 300 nonprofit organizations focused on improving the health and wellbeing of children. (Interested nonprofits can apply to become part of this program by signing up here.) Since its inception in 2001, the Rite Aid Foundation has given out close to $21 million to various nonprofit organizations.

The Fred Rogers Company, meanwhile, was founded by Fred Rogers—aka Mr. Rogers—in 1971 as the non-profit producer of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood for PBS. The foundation is committed to "promoting children's social, emotional, and behavioral health and supporting parents, caregivers, teachers and other professionals in their work with children." Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood best exemplifies the foundation's promotion of the musical strategies founded in Rogers' social-emotional curriculum, where, through "imagination, creativity, and music, Daniel and his friends learn the key social skills necessary for success in school and in life."

As part of the donation, a Rite Aid Foundation underwriting spot will air before and after every episode of the show beginning in February 2016. Underwriting credits will also be included on digital platforms, building awareness about the Rite Aid Foundation's KidCents program among fans of the series—a strategy is "good for the brand."

In related analysis, check out our take on early childhood education grants from the PNC Foundation, an organization whose partners include Sesame Street, the National Head Start Association, and—you guessed it—the Fred Rogers Company.