Early childhood education refers to any educational program provided to children during their formative preschool years through the third grade. Often called preschool or Pre-K programs, the vast majority of early childhood education is offered to kids between the ages of 3 and 5. The overall goal of early childhood education is to better prepare children for the start of elementary school especially in at-risk or low-income populations.
Research shows that early childhood education can provide significant benefits to kids who participate in these programs. Besides the obvious results of increased learning and development at an early age, children enrolled in early childhood education show higher standardized testing scores, are less likely to become placed into special education and have higher graduation rates long-term.
Most grants for early childhood education are issued from the federal government. This funding is usually allocated directly to the states and organizations that offer early childhood education programs on the local level. A few private foundations and well-known corporate entities also make investments into ECE programming funding schools and learning centers directly.
Federal Early Childhood Education Grants
The federal programs that support early childhood education are especially targeted for at-risk and low-income children. These programs attempt to ensure that every American child receives the same opportunity to succeed in school.
Head Start Program
Originally started as an eight week summer program in 1965, Head Start has grown to now serve around 1 million children annually in both urban and rural areas in all fifty states. The program issues Head Start funding by way of grants to both non-profit and for-profit organizations that provide early childhood education. These include community programs, faith-based schools and businesses that operate early childhood centers. Head Start programs are needs-based and generally offer help only to at-risk and low-income children. To find a Head Start or Early Head Start program in your area, use the Head Start locator on the Administration for Children and Families website.
Reading First Program
Grants offered by the U.S. Department of Education Reading First Program are issued to states and school districts with the goal that all children learn to read at acceptable levels by the end of third grade. Funds are allocated to each state based on the number of children living below the poverty line. Funding is used to establish scientific based reading programs that use screening and diagnostic assessment to monitor children’s reading progress in K-3 classrooms.
Foundation Early Childhood Education Grants
Early childhood education is a prevalent impact area or area of focus for many private foundations. This support ensures access to early childhood education for more of America’s children than those that are served by federal programs.
The Daniels Fund provides early childhood education grants to education providers with the goal of improving the quality of teaching, facilities and parental involvement. Funding is available within Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming only.
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
This foundation focuses its education grants in two ways, funding both national organizations that work with early childhood education and state and local entities that work with children on the community level. Kellogg has no application deadline, accepting and processing grant requests year round. Your organization or institution must qualify under IRS regulation to receive grant funding.
Corporate Early Childhood Education Grants
Corporations also contribute funding for early childhood education efforts. These programs tend to fund non-profit organizations that educate early through innovative and creative methods such as mobile learning centers and community reading programs.
Lego Children’s Fund
Lego offers project grants from $500 to $5,000 to non-profit organizations providing early childhood education programs across the United States. Applications are accepted quarterly with deadlines in January, April, July and October. To apply you must complete an eligibility quiz and provide a grant proposal. As Lego’s corporate headquarters is based in Connecticut, special consideration may be given to proposals that serve that specific local area.
PNC Grow Up Great
The PNC Financial Services Group offers early childhood education grants under its PNC Grow Up Great Program. Grow Up Great issues support to parents and educators by way of educational kits and provides several mobile learning centers that work one on one with children. Since its inception, it has served approximately 1.5 million at-risk preschoolers.
Target Early Childhood Reading Grants
Target issues early childhood reading grants of $2,000 each to reading programs that encourage children from preschool to third grade to read with their families. These can include storytelling inside libraries, family reading nights, book drives and the like. Application are accepted between March 1 and April 30 annually with programs required to complete the funded reading initiatives between September and the following August. For information about other education grants also offered by Target Corporation, check out our article on Target grants.
Category: Education Grants