Brady Education Foundation: Grants for Early Childhood Education

OVERVIEW: In 2001, the W.H. Brady Foundation made dramatic changes to its giving strategy. Along with making a round of major gifts, the foundation shifted its giving to focus exclusively on early education research. It also changed its name to the Brady Education Foundation. Today the foundation provides highly selective grants — around two to five each year — to innovative early education research and evaluation projects.


IP TAKE: Brady's tagline — "Where research and practice meet" — isn't just a slogan. It's a guiding principle in the research projects funded by the foundation. Brady's grants go to cutting-edge, collaborative projects that bring researchers and service providers together.


PROFILE: Dr. Elizabeth Pungello, a leading childhood education researcher and granddaughter of W.H. Brady, took the reins of the Brady Foundation in 2001. She helped define the giving strategy that the foundation uses to this day. It's an extremely focused strategy that has an emphasis in two areas: the evaluation of existing early education models, which can be funded for up to three years (or more in rare instances), and innovative research and development of new models, which are normally funded for a maximum of one year.


The foundation gives a small number of grants each year — as few as 2 or 3 per funding cycle, with recent annual giving coming in at the $550,000 to $650,000 range — so it's important for grantseekers to understand the types of projects Brady prefers.

In the area of evaluation, Brady has been a longtime supporter of research that examines the Educare model — a growing network of early childhood education centers. These projects studied various aspects of Educare's model, from evaluating children's cognitive and social development and to long-term tracking of child development. Recently, for example, Brady awarded three separate grants totaling $792,225 for Educare evaluation, using randomized control trials, though it has also supported projects evaluating other models such as the Family Academy model in Minnesota and a three-year evaluation of a "collaborative coaching model in certain high poverty New Jersey elementary schools."  

Brady places priority on projects that leverage additional funds, that enable collaboration between researchers/evaluators and service providers to demonstrate the effectiveness of programs or improve existing interventions, and those that evaluate or are aligned with "strength-based approaches rather than deficit models."

With evaluation projects, collaboration is an important factor, as is the impact that research can have on outcomes for children. Projects that use methodologies including randomized control trials and comparison group designs, are also stated preferences for this funder. Indeed, two projects funded by Brady in a recent grant cycle used randomized control trials.

Grantseekers requesting funding for Program Development are also expected to demonstrate both effectiveness and the "promise of being affordable, accessible and sustainable."

Brady's two-step application process is fairly straightforward, and it is open throughout the year to project proposals. For more information on projects the foundation has recently funded, check out their Grants Awarded page.


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