While a growing body of research may underscore the importance of early childhood education, the government is drastically cutting such funding in many places. This means stiffer competition for ECE grants from private funders. Fortunately, a growing number of funders are interested in this area and looking for promising initiatives to fund.

Programs that integrate new technology into pre-K and kindergarten classrooms are in high demand, as well as those that seek to close gaps in math, reading and science skills between low and high income kids as they enter elementary school. As ECE evolves to meet the Common Core standards, programs that help students and schools in this area currently receive a good deal of financial attention.

LOCAL FUNDERS

Much of the funding for early childhood education takes place at a local level. So in addition to analyzing major ECE national funders, we look at top funders in the metro areas that IP covers. Click on a city below to explore local ECE funding. 

FUNDERS

3M FOUNDATION

3M funds both large and small early childhood education programs and projects. 

PAUL M. ANGELL FOUNDATION

Angell supports early childhood education organizations that emphasize early interventions for children living in low-income and impoverished communities.

ATLAS FAMILY FOUNDATION

Atlas doesn't have a specific program for early childhood education, but it supports organizations working in this space. Primarily gives in Southern California.

BEZOS FAMILY FOUNDATION

Recognizing that "far too many children operate at a deficit" in their early years, Bezos seeks "to dramatically improve the quality of early learning environments and the number of children who have access to rich early learning opportunities, whether they are at home, in informal care or center-based settings."

ARTHUR M. BLANK FAMILY FOUNDATION

Blank is particularly interested in high-quality early childhood education systems and supporting young children in high-need communities. But if you're outside Georgia, getting funding will be more difficult, and Blank does not accept unsolicited proposals.

BOEING COMPANY

Boeing's giving areas vary by state, and funding is only available in close to half of the states in the U.S. But a focus on early childhood education—STEM and beyond—exists almost everywhere Boeing does give. Involving Boeing employees in your program can improve your odds.

LOUIS L. BORICK FOUNDATION

Borick funds early childhood education organizations that support the caretakers and educators of young children. Borick also seeks projects and initiatives that increase access to quality early childhood education.

BRADY EDUCATION FOUNDATION

The Brady Education Foundation has not generally awarded a large number of annual grants, but the grants it has awarded typically range from around $100,000 to $350,000 and are laser-focused on early childhood education.

BROWN RUDNICK CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

The philanthropic arm of the international law firm supports education in inner-city communities in cities where the firm has a business presence.

BUFFETT EARLY CHILDHOOD FUND

The Buffett Early Childhood Fund is a vehicle for billionaire investor Warren Buffett's philanthropy in the area of early childhood education. Although the fund gives large grants, it traditionally favors a select group of longtime grantees.

LAURA BUSH FOUNDATION FOR AMERICA'S LIBRARIES

This school-library-only funder, named for the former first lady, specifically includes pre-K libraries in its scope of giving. Grants only support schools with a high percentage of needy children.

CAPITAL ONE FOUNDATION

Capital One's early childhood education grantmaking predominately centers on increasing young children’s access to quality education. 

CAPLAN FOUNDATION FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD

Caplan funds organizations that address challenges in early childhood education and development.

ANNIE E. CASEY FOUNDATION

Children's health and wellness is a major focus of the Casey Foundation, but there have also been grants for early childhood nonprofits, including service providers, advocacy groups and reformers.

CATHAY BANK FOUNDATION

The bank's charitable arm is interested in early childhood education programs and makes grants in the states where the bank has a business presence.

CHILD WELFARE FOUNDATION 

The Child Welfare Foundation carries out a major part of the grantmaking efforts for the American Legion, and the focus of its giving is educating the public (including children, parents, authorities, and other stakeholders) about a particular subject or nonprofit.

DANIELS FUND

Daniels Fund awards education grants for training, accountability, curriculum development, materials and even capital construction, but focuses almost exclusively on organizations in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah. The fund also supports programs that engage parents in their young child’s education and development.  

DEKKO FOUNDATION

Dekko’s Early Childhood Development Program awards grants to organizations working with children ages birth to five. The foundation's geographic restrictions limit its funding mainly to Indiana, but it also gives in Alabama, Iowa, Florida, and Minnesota.  

FRANCIS R. DEWING FOUNDATION

The Dewing Foundation funds grants to early childhood education projects that address children from two years old to the sixth grade.

ECOLAB FOUNDATION

Ecolab Foundation has a firm commitment to education—early childhood education is a major focus area—so long as the programming occurs in an Ecolab community.

ENTERGY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

The Entergy Foundation funds early childhood education organizations that work with low-income and underserved communities.

FOUNDATION FOR CHILD DEVELOPMENT

FCD's main areas of focus are  ensuring access to high quality early learning opportunities and improving learning and development outcomes for children from low income, ethnic minority, or immigrant communities. Its grants are competitive and focus on funding research, policy, advocacy, and public awareness; direct service providers are not eligible.

BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION

The Gates Foundation is a longtime early childhood funder.  Many U.S.-based ECE grants support organizations in the Pacific Northwest, where the foundation has built strategic partnerships with local groups, but the foundation has recently expanded its scope to include grantseekers nationwide.

HASBRO CHILDREN'S FUND

Hasbro’s grantmaking focuses on the core concepts of hope, need, and service, paying attention to low-income and vulnerable populations. Nationally and regionally, it works almost exclusively with strategic partners, while local funding is directed only to the areas of Los Angeles, California; Renton, Washington; and the state of Rhode Island. 

HEARST FOUNDATIONS

The vast majority of the Hearst Foundations' education funding is directed toward higher education, and most grants are awarded to prior recipients. At the same time, Hearst generally awards a small number of sizeable grants each year to innovators in early childhood education, including to support faculty professional development. 

HEISING-SIMONS FOUNDATION

This funder sees early childhood instruction as the education equivalent of preventive medicine. It is especially interested in research, evaluation, and advocacy on early math, family engagement, and student transition to kindergarten. 

HELIOS EDUCATION FOUNDATION

This funder’s agenda is to improve college access and success for students—but only in Arizona and Florida. Its early ed grantmaking activities emphasize community involvement, professional development, and ensuring a "successful transition" between grades.

JOYCE FOUNDATION

The Joyce Foundation funds early childhood education organizations that ensure children's access to quality public education beginning at a young age.

W.K. KELLOGG FOUNDATION

Kellogg is one of the most significant early childhood funders in the country, and the foundation's grantmaking leaves the door open for a variety of nonprofits working in the area. 

LEGO CHILDREN'S FUND

LEGO's education grants support Connecticut nonprofits that help young people "develop their creativity and learning skills through constructive play." 

ROBERT R. MCCORMICK FOUNDATION

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation funds early education in Illinois as part of its early education program. Specifically, its grants are designed to increase ECE access to the lower income demographics in the state. 

RGK FOUNDATION  

After five decades, the foundation announced that it will wind down operations and distribute assets equally between two new foundations, the Kozmetsky Family Foundation and the Reissa Foundation. 

PIMCO FOUNDATION

Philanthopic arm of the investment management firm looks for programs that help kids aged zero to five realize their full potential for lifelong academic success.

PNC FOUNDATION

The majority of the PNC Foundation's ECE funds come from its $350 million Grow Up Great program, which drives almost all of the foundation's early education grants. Partnerships are limited to organizations in those parts of the Midwest and East Coast where PNC has a "significant presence." ECE grants prioritize early education in math, science, financial education, and the arts.

W. CLEMENT AND JESSIE V. STONE FOUNDATION

Stone funds projects that align early learning with K-3 school systems and those that address the importance of quality early childhood education.

GEORGE B. STORER FOUNDATION

The foundation's early childhood education grants go to projects that improve teacher quality, share best practices, and that integrate and use place-based learning.

TARGET

The Target Foundation supports nonprofits based in the Twin Cities and makes modest-sized grants to local nonprofits. The retailer also provides nationwide financial support directly to teachers for field trips, and has also announced a new focus on childhood health and wellness.