Daniels Fund: Grants for Early Childhood Education

OVERVIEW: The Daniels Fund is an important funder of early childhood education (ECE) in the Rocky Mountains, giving big to non-profit organizations primarily in Colorado (especially the Denver Metropolitan area) but also New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, with a smaller portion allocated for national organizations. The fund’s ECE giving is fairly straightforward, with three areas of focus: teacher leadership, facility quality, and parental involvement.

IP TAKE: Daniels encourages nonprofits to reach out to program staff and has an open application process, and program staff are active in the communities the fund serves. ECE organizations based in Colorado (especially the Denver Metro area) should especially take note of this organization.

PROFILE: Established by the estate of the late business leader Bill Daniels, the Daniels Fund is a major player in the Rocky Mountains. The foundation controls well over $1 billion in assets, and recently has provided yearly funding of more than $30 million in grants to community nonprofits and more than $10 million in scholarships.

Education and young people certainly play a major role in the fund's giving. In addition to scholarships, the fund's specific giving areas include ECE, K-12 Education Reform, and Youth Deveopment. Beyond education, the fund's grants also support organizations working on areas related to Aging, Alcoholism & Substance Abuse, Amateur Sports, Disabilities, and Homeless & Disadvantaged.  

The fund’s three specific areas in early childhood funding — teacher/leadership quality, facility quality, and parental involvement — can be further broken down, and the program is accessible to a wide variety of early education-oriented nonprofits. For instance, the fund's investments in teacher leadership support professional development programs for early educators and service providers. The Daniels Fund's facility improvement grants go to early childhood education facilities. Although these efforts include capital construction projects, facility quality grants also support curriculum improvements and increased access to learning materials. In addition, Daniels supports parental involvement in early development through organizations that provide resources and information for parents as well as to nonprofits working in outreach and education, as well as programs that support educator accountability in ECE.

While ECE is not a primary focus for the fund, it is a significant player. In a recent year, just over $3 million of the nearly $48 it million paid out in grants were dedicated to ECE projects.  It is also worth noting that funding areas such as K-12 Education Reform and Youth Development may also have ECE-related components. A searchable database of the fund's ECE grants through 2012 is available here, and grantseekers can also view a breakdown of the fund's total giving by program.

This is a funder with a very specific geographic focus, namely Colorado (especially the Denver Metropolitan area), New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.  Applications are invitation-only for organizations with a national, Utah, or New-Mexico based focus. Daniels also recently announced a shift for its New Mexico grants to focus "primarily on education-related initiatives," though the projects it has highlighted have been directed primarily at older students rather than ECE.

To get started, fill out an online inquiry form through the fund's online portal and schedule a call with a staff member. 

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