Early Childhood

Because the first few years of life are critically important and can affect learning, behavior and health over an entire lifetime, we support children’s healthy development and learning from birth to age 3. Our previous Early Learning work has been broadened to prioritize five aspects of Early Childhood that contribute to the healthy growth and development of young children and the well-being of their families. 

  • Early Learning 
  • Mental Health and Well-Being 
  • Health, including Prenatal and Perinatal 
  • Family Economic Security 
  • Housing Stability 

We understand that the problems we are trying to solve are deep and entrenched, requiring the complexities of a both/and approach, not an either/or approach. That means we intend to: 

  • Pursue both national and local policy change, as each one drives and influences the other 
  • Seek both short-term policy changes and sustained systems-level changes 
  • Tackle problems both at the direct service/practice level and the policy level 
  • Help to both navigate current barriers and reimagine conditions without the barriers    

To achieve this, we work with partners in two primary and overlapping categories: 

  • Practice/Direct Service — We work alongside practice partners to provide a range of accessible, affordable and quality services for young children and their families as well as the professionals who support them. These practice partners are trusted community organizations that center equity in their work and are committed to continuously deepening their impact. They are also advocates who use their expertise and proximity to those they serve to inform the policies that impact their work. While our partnership helps the majority of our practice partners navigate the current system, some serve as examples of what could be done with more public funding and intentional planning.  

    Examples of Practice Partners

    • Bright Beginnings, Washington, D.C. 
    • Community of Hope, Washington, D.C. 
    • Early Childhood Innovation Network, Washington, D.C. 
    • Educare DC, Washington, D.C. 
    • Hope Toledo, Toledo, Ohio  
    • Lift Orlando, Orlando, Florida 
    • The Lourie Center for Children’s Social & Emotional Wellness (at Adventist HealthCare), Rockville, Maryland  
    • MamaToto Village, Washington, D.C. 
    • National Children’s Center, Washington, D.C. 
    • United Planning Organization, Washington, D.C. 
    • West Lakes Early Learning Center (via Advent Health Foundation), Orlando, Florida
  • Policy and Advocacy — We work alongside policy partners to ensure that the publicly funded systems that are in place to serve young children and their families, as well as the professionals who support them, are effective and equitable. These policy partners are trusted experts (at local, state and/or federal levels) that understand the policy context, inform policymakers and the public about early childhood issues, and center equity in their work. Policy partners leverage the expertise of families and the professionals who support young children. We also provide research and data to support policy partners and other influencers. 

    Examples of Policy Partners

    • American Academy of Pediatrics, DC Chapter, Washington, D.C.  
    • Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California, Berkeley (federal-facing and multistate)  
    • Center for Law and Social Policy (federal-facing and multistate) 
    • Children’s Forum, Florida  
    • The Children’s Movement of Florida, Florida  
    • Council for Strong America (federal-facing and multistate) 
    • D.C. Family Child Care Association, Washington, D.C.  
    • D.C. Hunger Solutions, Washington, D.C.  
    • District of Columbia Association for the Education of Young Children, Washington, D.C.  
    • District of Columbia Head Start Association, Washington, D.C.  
    • Florida Association for the Education of Young Children, Florida 
    • Florida Family Child Care Association, Florida  
    • Florida Head Start Association, Florida  
    • Multicultural Spanish Speaking Providers Association, Washington, D.C. 
    • National Association for Family Child Care (federal-facing and multistate)  
    • National Association for the Education of Young Children (federal-facing and multistate) 
    • New America (federal-facing and multistate) 

Strategic Projects

The foundation also develops and implements strategic projects to reinforce the work of our practice and policy partners and address the gaps they have identified. Examples of our foundation-led projects include: 

WeVision EarlyEd: Making the Ideal Child Care Real

In 2022, the foundation seeded and supported the launch of WeVision EarlyEd, a collaborative effort designed to “make the ideal real” by reenvisioning what child care could be. WeVision EarlyEd engages and supports families, early childhood education professionals and other advocates to generate equitable and practical solutions that improve the quality and effectiveness of the child care system. WeVision EarlyEd helps promote narratives about child care that are coherent, cohesive and relevant. As part of this effort, the foundation is launching an Ideal Solutions Lab to test real-world solutions to some of child care’s most urgent problems. 

DC Early EdX: Professional Development by Educators, for Educators

In partnership with four leading professional organizations (District of Columbia Association for the Education of Young Children, District of Columbia Head Start Association, D.C. Family Child Care Association and Multicultural Spanish Speaking Providers Association), the foundation co-created and supports DC Early Educator Experience (DC Early EdX), a professional development and appreciation event for early childhood education professionals across the District. The annual event has been held since 2021 in April as part of Month of the Young Child. 

Early Learning Quality Facility Fund: Environments That Support Quality

The design and maintenance of early learning facilities supports quality program activities and services and allows for optimal use and operation. Yet current funding for child care makes it challenging, if not impossible, for program administrators to upgrade and expand their facilities. In partnership with Reinvestment Fund, the foundation provides technical assistance and financing to help programs make the necessary improvements to their facilities. Priority is given to smaller programs and programs in home-based settings.