Our Grants

Elevating the early childhood workforce: COVID-19 Response Grants

The global health pandemic and the national movement to undo longstanding systemic racism have exposed the many structural inequities and instabilities under which early childhood educators are forced to work.

Our goal is to help all early educators achieve their full potential as professionals to ensure that each child is prepared for success in school and life. During this time of crisis, we are compelled to respond to the needs of the community in ways that align with our long-term vision to prepare and compensate our workforce fairly. It is unacceptable that 40% of the workforce are women of color who earn less than their peers. We are intensifying our efforts to elevate the early childhood workforce for early educators, in particular Black, Indigenous, and Latinx educators, who do not have equitable access to professional compensation, higher education, and professional development.

In 2020, The Collaborative awarded four grants, totaling $660,000, to organizations that: engaged in federal and state advocacy to garner support for building a better system of early care and education post-pandemic, including improving the status of the ECE workforce; conducted research that led to actionable recommendations for improving the conditions of the ECE workforce in the wake of COVID-19; and developed resources that states and localities can use to build equitable, high-quality early childhood systems that serve their communities and support early educators.

The Collaborative has awarded four grants, totaling $660,000 to elevate the early childhood workforce.

Child Care Relief: Federal Advocacy Campaign Support

This national public education campaign is powered by a broad coalition of organizations representing the many needs and perspectives of America’s child care system. It is committed to resolving the nation’s child care crisis, which has been laid bare and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through support from The Collaborative and other funders, Child Care Relief was able to quickly raise the profile of child care as an essential service during the pandemic, educating members of Congress on the need to support early learning and care professionals who were economically devasted by the crisis. Grant total: $100,000.

Raising Child Care Fund: Amplifying Early Educator Voices

The Raising Child Care Fund (RCCF) is an initiative of the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, spearheaded by five foundations—Irving Harris Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, Heinz Endowments, JB and MK Pritzker Foundation, and Vanguard. RCCF supports groups that lift up the voices of families, early educators in centers and homes, and allies—helping them advocate for effective and equitable solutions that help all early educators thrive and rebuild ECE systems in states and localities. Grant total: $300,000.

Urban Institute: Rapid Policy Assessments and Action Plans

The Urban Institute’s project, spearheaded by Gina Adams, developed a rapid-response research-to-policy assessment and action plan for the ECE workforce grounded in existing evidence-based research. Plans were shaped by and responsive to questions policymakers had as they considered shaping new or revising existing policies in response to COVID-19. Grant total: $130,000.

A 2021 report resulting from this work, Supporting the Child Care and Early Education Workforce, offers a set of state and local policy strategies for policymakers, philanthropists, and other key stakeholders to address fundamental structural problems in the ECE system, including the inequities facing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) child care and early education staff and providers. Through these policy solutions, we can better support the workforce as our country continues to navigate the impact of the pandemic and works toward building a stronger and more equitable ECE workforce in the years to come.

Yale University, The Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy: Understanding the Critical Implications for Reopening Child Care & Public Schools

Under the leadership of Dr. Walter Gilliam, the Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at the Yale University School of Medicine collected data from nearly 100,000 early educators to better understand the spread of COVID-19 in child care programs and to examine the health, mental health, and economic impact of COVID-19 on the ECE workforce. The findings from the first and second waves of this multi-phase research are published in Pediatrics. The newest research, available from JAMA Network, finds that child care programs that practiced mask-wearing among children early on in the pandemic experienced a 13% reduction in program closures during the following year. These cumulative studies have important policy implications for families, providers, and early care and learning programs as they grapple with the impacts of COVID-19 on young children and education in the U.S. Grant total: $130,000.