Request for Inquiries:
Indigenous Early Childhood Development Funding Opportunities
At the Better Way Foundation, we fund early childhood education and positive child development to help build a foundation for educational achievement, lifelong health, strong families and communities, and the success of future generations. We have a focused commitment to early childhood development in Indian Country; we support collaborative, systemic, and evidence-based approaches, and leaders and organizations that create culturally grounded learning environments.
Building on our previous work supporting indigenized early learning curriculum, the development and support of educators, and increased access to quality programs that center on Native language revitalization and preparedness for elementary school, we are expanding grantmaking opportunities for Indigenous ECD programs. At this time, we invite interested organizations to submit inquiries to explore support and partnership.
ADVANCING INDIGENOUS EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT
- Ensure Indigenous ECD programs are equipped to lead and deliver high-quality, culturally relevant programs and fulfill their missions
- Forge strong relationships and build meaningful connections with Indigenous communities
- Learn from a diverse set of partners across Tribal Nations and the United States
- Support programs at different stages of development (e.g., pre-launch to well established)
- Inspire greater private philanthropic investment in Indian Country
- Learn together on how long-term, significant investments in Indigenous ECD lead to thriving and sustainable programs and children who are growing culturally, social emotionally, and academically
INVITATION & FOCUS AREAS
We invite inquiries from Native-led, community-centered Indigenous ECD programs that aspire to advance or grow in at least one of the following focus areas:
- Revitalizing Native language and culture
- Developing educators, staff, and program leadership
- Supporting effective transitions from early education to elementary school
- Addressing the impact of intergenerational trauma through Truth & Healing efforts
- Improving conditions for program success through systems change and thought leadership
Examples include, but are not limited to, launching or implementing:
- Decolonized early education programming through new systems that 1) Facilitate dynamic learning experiences for students, staff, and families; 2) Ensure strong leadership, governance, and financial structures; and 3) Make meaningful efforts to revitalize Native language and culture
- Enriching professional development for educators that 1) Support and deepen their instructional leadership and facilitation of Native curriculum; and 2) Equip them with the tools and resources to provide a high-quality and culturally centered learning environment for all students, in which students grow academically, culturally, and social emotionally and are prepared to succeed post-early education
- New or expanded teacher pipeline solutions to attract, prepare, and help place more Indigenous educators in the early education profession
- New funding models or solutions to expand children’s access to high-quality, culturally relevant Native ECD programs
- Convening opportunities for shared learning across Indigenous ECD providers (e.g., site visits) to co-design solutions and solve complex challenges
- Opportunities to influence or serve as a thought leader to fuel the momentum of Indigenous ECD
We utilize a long-term partnership cycle, often six to nine years in length, with three phases:
- Responsible entry (a single, one-year grant usually between $30,000-$75,000);
- Strategic growth (up to two, three-year grants between $75,000-$250,000 per year); and
- Responsible exit (a single, one- or two-year grant between $75,000-$250,000 per year).
Better Way determines grant terms and payments based on the project and partners’ articulated objectives, goals, and strategic initiatives. We strive to be flexible and adaptive to the needs and goals of each partner organization. We welcome proposals that focus on both short- and long-term strategies and program opportunities.
We are currently accepting inquiries on a rolling basis. After inquiry submission and confirmation of eligibility, we will meet with potential partners to explore partnership. After inviting a program to submit a proposal, we review and approve (and renew) grants on a quarterly cycle each year. We require partner organizations to submit a simple report annually—in writing or over the phone—and a final report once the project is completed. We also invite partners to participate in cohort learning opportunities and our evaluation efforts (we estimate it takes about 10 hours a year to participate; however, participation in those activities is not required to receive a grant).
ELIGIBILITY & INQUIRIES
All three criteria must be met:
- Your organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has an equivalent fiscal sponsor, or is a nonprofit organization through the IRS section 7871 as a documented Tribal entity;
- Your organization works in the United States, serving Indigenous children ages 3-8 years old, or provides direct support or training to staff or organizations that serve such children; and
- Your organization is connected to the Indigenous community you serve, with leadership rooted in that community.
ABOUT THE BETTER WAY FOUNDATION
The Better Way Foundation is a private family foundation rooted in Catholic social values and focused on supporting early childhood development in under-invested communities. Learn more at www.betterwayfoundation.org.