Why is the Endowment undertaking this new strategic emphasis?
By making the early years easier for children, we help pave the way for better outcomes on virtually every social front. We ease the strain on our child welfare systems. We send our educational institutions better-prepared students. We strengthen the families who fortify our rural churches so that the churches can meaningfully engage their communities. And we boost the health of the Carolinas by improving health and well-being outcomes for children.
Rapid advances in science conclusively demonstrate that constant, unrelenting negative experiences – toxic stress – disrupt developing brain circuits, putting children at increased risk for academic challenges, behavioral problems and chronic disease. Brain science is also proving that stable, nurturing environments stimulate the development of neural connections critical to the kind of strong executive functioning needed for learning and problem-solving.
In short, we are convinced that strong, strategic early interventions will help us produce greater impact across all our grantmaking and will boost collaboration among our program areas.
Will this replace the existing Child and Family Well-Being program area?
No, and it won’t be a fifth grantmaking program area for us, either. Rather, the four program areas will work collaboratively to make sure each is doing early childhood work as part of the broader mission.
Does this affect current grantmaking commitments, or the Endowment’s interest in funding work with other populations, such as teens, adults and seniors?
No. Existing commitments will be met, and we will continue working with other populations.
Is there a new stream of early childhood grants for which I can apply?
Not at this time. We are not currently accepting proposals for new early childhood grants as a part of this effort.
Will existing early childhood grants become part of this strategic emphasis?
We will continue to draw lessons from any grants currently impacting this population and use those lessons to inform our future work.
How did this new emphasis take shape?
Our interest in early childhood issues has been growing steadily for two decades. Back in 1997, the Board initiated the Children and Families program, which encouraged grantees across all four program areas to go deeper in addressing the needs of children and families. It spawned 12 projects from 1997-2002.
A later emphasis on cross-departmental collaboration around early childhood issues resulted in our first grants to Nurse-Family Partnership in 2008. The idea was that those would lead to additional early childhood grants.
More recently, our Board of Trustees directed staff to conduct additional exploration in the early childhood space. After months of research and deliberation, we’ve arrived at this point.
Whom should I call to get more details?
Please reach out to the program area staff you are accustomed to contacting.