Press Releases

Early Educator Investment Collaborative Awards Grants in Response to COVID-19

Eight-foundation coalition gives $660,000 to groups supporting Black, Indigenous, and Latinx early childhood educators, and policies that improve their livelihoods

Foundation for Child Development Grants in Action

The Early Educator Investment Collaborative recently announced $660,000 in awards to the Child Care Relief campaign, Raising Child Care Fund, Urban Institute, and Yale University’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy.

The awards are in response to COVID-19 and the many longstanding inequities experienced by the early childhood workforce (ECE) and brought to the fore during the pandemic. COVID-19 disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities, and exacerbates already entrenched inequities, including those of early childhood educators.

Black, Indigenous, and Latinx early childhood educators are 40 percent of the ECE workforce, yet they often face limited opportunities in professional compensation, higher education and professional development compared with their white peers.

“We are pleased to award these Response Grants as part of our continued investment in building an equitable, high-quality early learning system for students and educators in Black and Brown communities,” said Rebecca Gomez from the Heising-Simons Foundation and co-chair of the Early Educator Investment Collaborative. “We are responding to the urgent needs of the field in ways that align with our collective, long-term vision to prepare, support and compensate our workforce fairly.”

The Collaborative, created in 2017, is made up of eight major U.S. funders: Ballmer GroupBezos Family FoundationBill and Melinda Gates FoundationBuffett Early Childhood Fund, David and Lucile Packard FoundationFoundation for Child DevelopmentHeising-Simons Foundation, and Stranahan Foundation. Its goal is to help all early educators achieve their full potential as professionals, and to ensure that each child is prepared for success in school and life.

“As a collaborative, we are very pleased that these COVID-19 Response Grants provide an opportunity to address issues of social justice and inequities experienced by early educators, especially those of color,” said Jacqueline Jones, President and CEO of the Foundation for Child Development. “It is a critical time to support research and advocacy that can advance ECE policy and the status of the workforce.”

The Collaborative’s position on the urgency of supporting the early childhood workforce – as a matter of helping families and fueling our economic recovery – can be found in this recent op-ed.

“The COVID-19 health and economic crisis has laid bare the challenging realities facing the early education workforce – realities driven by long-standing systemic inequities,” said Deanna Gomby, President and CEO of the Heising-Simons Foundation. “We commend the work of these organizations to bring more robust resources to an underfunded early childhood field, including their efforts to bring a specific focus on improving the preparation and compensation of the early educator workforce.”

Grant recipients will engage in federal and state advocacy to garner support for better systems of early childcare and education and conduct research that leads to actionable recommendations for improving the conditions of the ECE workforce in the wake of COVID-19 and given the structural inequities and instabilities for this country’s early childhood educators. Grant recipients also will develop resources for states and localities to use in this effort.

“These organizations are on the forefront of enabling states and communities to take needed action,’ said Sara Vecchiotti with the Foundation for Child Development and second co-chair. “Better training, pay and supports for our early childhood workforce is a matter of fairness and racial equity – as well as our economic recovery.”

“This extraordinary time has only further demonstrated that if we want every child to be ready for and successful in school we have to pay a lot more attention to the early educators who work with young children and their families,” said Jessie Rasmussen, President of Buffett Early Childhood Fund. “You can’t have well-prepared children without professional educators who earn professional-level compensation. These grants are a step in the right direction to addressing America’s child care crisis.”

The grants are as follows:

  • Raising Child Care Fund: Amplifying Early Educator Voices: The Raising Child Care Fund (RCCF) is a project of Early Childhood Funders Collaborative making resources available to grow civic engagement and focus attention on the child care crisis in America. RCCF supports groups that lift up the voices of families, early educators in centers and homes, and allies. RCCF grantees advocate for effective and equitable solutions for early educators to rebuild ECE systems in states and localities using a racial justice lens. Grant total: $300,000.
  • Urban Institute: Rapid Policy Assessments and Action Plans The Urban Institute project, spearheaded by Gina Adams, will develop a rapid-response research-to-policy assessment and action plan for the ECE workforce. Plans will be grounded in existing evidence-based research and will be shaped and responsive to questions policymakers have, as they consider creating new or revising existing policies in response to COVID-19. Grant total: $130,000.
  • Yale University, The Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy: Understanding the Critical Implications for Reopening Child Care & Public Schools The Zigler Center, part of the Yale School of Medicine and under the leadership of Walter Gilliam, is collecting 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. This research will help the field and policymakers answer critical questions about safe reopening for children and the adults who serve them. Grant total: $130,000.
  • Child Care Relief: Federal Advocacy Campaign Support This 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 childcare crisis, which has been laid bare and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant supports Child Care Relief, a national campaign advocating for federal relief to support a ECE workforce financially devastated by the effects of COVID-19 and desperately needed to get Americans back to work. Grant total: $100,000.


About Early Educator Investment Collaborative
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. Our vision is a country where there is no opportunity gap among children, where every child makes lasting gains in cognitive, social, and emotional development through their early care and education experience. We are working to link early educator professional competencies with professional compensation and to transform the preparation of early education.