Foundation for Child Development: Grants for Early Childhood Education

OVERVIEW: Well into its second century, the Foundation for Child Development has focused for more than four decades on research and policy-oriented approaches for supporting children from birth to 10 years old. Its main areas of focus are on ensuring access to high-quality early learning opportunities and on improving learning and development outcomes for children from low-income, ethnic minority, or immigrant communities.

IP TAKE: Though relatively small in size, FCD is tall in stature, and its grants are highly competitive. While direct service providers are not in FCD’s wheelhouse, a nonprofit that combines well-grounded innovation with an explicit focus on research, policy, advocacy, or public awareness stands the best chance of catching this funder’s attention.


PROFILE: Incorporated in 1899 and "established as the Association for the Aid of Crippled Children (AACC) in 1908," the organization changed its name to the Foundation for Child Development in 1972 as a result of "its evolving program and of its status as a grantmaking organization." Today, FCD's mission is "to ensure that all children benefit from early learning experiences." The foundation's key concern is with supporting at-risk children from birth to 10 years old, and FCD touts its relatively small size as an asset that allows it to “innovate and to take risks.”  In this spirit, FCD has two broad programmatic themes: Early Learning, which seeks to improve the quality of and access to early learning environments; and Diversity and Disparities, which looks to improve learning and development outcomes for children from low income, ethnic minority, and immigrant communities, as well as English language learners.

Across the board, a core element of the foundation's grantmaking is research and policy oriented, and its Pre-K through third grade program funding is no exception. As FCD states, "Research shows that the cornerstone of a successful education is the learning that takes place from pre-K through third grade."  The foundation’s pre-K through third grade program therefore focuses on supporting "research, policy development, advocacy, and communications strategies" to improve early learning outcomes, with a special eye toward aligning "educational standards, curricula, assessment, instruction, and professional development." The sizes of its recent pre-K through third grade grants have varied widely, ranging from around $5,000 to nearly $800,000. Grants in the Pre-K–3rd Grade Education program totalled around $4 million in a recent year, and top recipients included advocacy organizations and several high-profile universities.

Complementing its Pre-K–3rd program, the foundation also has two additional programs: a Young Scholars Program that supports nonprofit and university affiliated education researchers who recently completed their doctoral degrees; and its Disparities Among America’s Children policy briefs, which aim “to stimulate research and public debate about the quality of life of diverse children in different race-ethnic-immigrant and socioeconomic groups in the U.S., and to shape public policies to improve their lives.” Past initiatives include the Child Welfare Index, a study of various elements and trends of national childhood well-being, and New American Children, which studied the condition of children in low-income immigration communities and connected this research with "sound policies and practices." 

Grantseekers should note that FCD grants are very competitive: By its own accounting, the foundation makes just 14 grants on average per year, direct service providers are ineligible for funding, and the foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals (the site is unclear regarding letters of inquiry).  For more information, early education nonprofits should review FCD’s resources section, which features the latest research from FCD and their grantees, as well as its grantees database.


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