With so much new research stressing the importance of early childhood development, it's no wonder that more donors are focusing on this space. Many are swayed by the view that early childhood investments bring some of the greatest returns to society in the long term. Early childhood intervention has been linked to a reduced risk of substance abuse, better school readiness and greater economic mobility.
Much of the giving we see for early childhood development is by local funders investing in local initiatives. The Atlas Family Foundation's grantmaking in Los Angeles is a good example of that. Here are three key things to know about this funder’s giving strategy.
1. Los Angeles is a Top Priority
The Atlas Family Foundation is based in Los Angeles, and much of the funder’s grantmaking is based here. Recent Los Angeles grantees include Casa of Los Angeles, which received $100,000 for staff and consultant salaries, and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, which received $50,000 to provide preparation services for pregnant women who are expecting a child with abnormalities. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic received a $75,000 grant for early intervention and community wellness programs, and Para Los Niños secured Atlas’ support for early education centers in the downtown/Skid Row area. The average one-year grant is about $50,000. To learn more about the funder’s local commitment, read The Case for Increased Investment in L.A. County’s Early Learning System.
2. Capacity Building Is a Priority
As you browse the list of things that Atlas supports, you’ll see direct services, public policy and advocacy, infant and toddler mental health, and parenting education. The Atlas team believes that funds for capacity building and general operating expenses are essential to a nonprofit’s long-term success, so many of the grants fall in line with this mindset. It's common for local groups to receive seed money for organizational strengthening, program evaluation, strategic planning, staff education, and communication strategies. Atlas stresses on its website that it sees itself as a real partner to the nonprofits it supports. "We do not just invest financially in strong non-profits, but work hard to bring out strengths and build connections that help our grantee-partners actualize their goals." All Atlas grants are for one year only, and around 16 Atlas grants are awarded per year.
3. Unsolicited Requests Aren’t Welcome
But unfortunately for grantseekers, you must be invited to send your awesome early childhood idea over to Atlas. In fact, you must be invited to even submit a letter of inquiry.
The first phase of Atlas’ application process is an initial meeting, but there is no clear path for grantseekers to initiate such a meeting. The funder is open to answering general questions, but the four-phase grant application process can be challenging to get into for groups that haven’t partnered with Atlas in the past.