Part 2: Grantseeker’s Guide to Early Childhood Education Funders

In our last post, we took a look at several potential funders of early childhood education nonprofits. Now let’s take a look at how to connect with your state’s Early Childhood Education Advisory Council, and why it’s important to do so.

Almost every state in the U.S. has one, and the council puts out a yearly report that summarizes recent developments from each state. You can also see how much money your state’s council was awarded for the year, and how much it expended.

Eye_home_2For example, in Rhode Island, my home state, I learned that there is a strategic plan for 2012 -2016 to improve child care quality and access. As part of that plan, more scholarships have been made available for students pursuing both associate and bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education.

I also learned that, up until 2013, Rhode Island did not have state standards for infants and toddlers, so this is an area where there is probably still substantial need for program development and strategies for helping care centers recognize and achieve new standards.

Other states are at different stages in their evolution in early childhood education, and it’s important as a grant seeker to know where your state stands.

On the funding front, banks are one sector of corporate America with a significant focus on early childhood education. Let’s take a look at a few of the big banks that do funding in this arena:

  • Wells Fargo devotes a fair amount of its corporate giving to early childhood education, and, much like Walmart, it divides its giving up with individual state guidelines.
  • The Bank of America Charitable Foundation also makes a significant number of grants for early childhood education. They have a list of eligible states and markets for their grantmaking and an eligibility quiz online.
  • The TD Charitable Foundation is another big bank that provides grants for early childhood education. Again, their funding is geographically limited, so check out the guidelines and the online grants process, which you can save and come back to. 
  • The U.S. Bank Foundation is another bank providing a significant number of grants for early childhood education, with 27% of their charitable funding going to education, part of which is focused on early childhood. The website provides information on state contacts and deadlines.
  • One more important regional bank in this funding arena: Lincoln Financial Group which makes grants in specific communities in six different states. Lincoln employees help with the grant making process, so part of applying for a grant with them would involve connection with the local corporation and its employees.

Another industry that supports early childhood education is the insurance industry. In fact, the largest industry foundation for insurance, the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF), recently established a national early literacy focus.

Like Lincoln, IICF’s process for grant eligibility involves making contact with an IICF Board member. Check out the Early Literacy Initiative’s  list of partners to scope out who to contact in your community.

And don’t forget about checking for new foundations on the scene for early childhood education. The Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood is currently the new kid on the block in this arena, and has a refreshing focus on play.

Tips for a Great Early Childhood Education Grant Proposal

  1. Identify the domains of child development that your program will be addressing. For a quick guide to the domains of early childhood development, go here.
  2. Have clear and simple objectives, which are organized with the most important objective listed first.
  3. Tell how you will evaluate your effectiveness both short-term and long-term.  Grant makers for early childhood are particularly interested in long-term outcome followup, since short-term gains are sometimes not maintained.
  4. Consider providing a graphic timeline with your objectives mapped out as a way to draw in visual readers in conceptualizing your plan.
  5. Engage the community in your grant proposal by asking for parent testimonials from successful interventions that you plan to use in your program.
  6. Use the voices of children who have experienced gains from specific interventions to ground your grant proposal in real experience.
  7. Ask community leaders who have been supportive of the program to describe its benefits.
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About Kiersten Marek 22 Articles
Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is a clinical social worker in Rhode Island, and a Senior Editor for Los Angeles-based Inside Philanthropy, where she writes about economic and social philanthropy. Kiersten is also the author of Know Thyself: A Kid's Guide to the Archetypes, an identity development workbook.