Grant program seeks proposals to support infants & toddlers
Indianapolis-based Early Learning Indiana is looking for organizations that could share in $50 million in grant funding to support the development of children from birth through age three. The Early Years Initiative is being funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. in Indy, and Maureen Weber, CEO of Early Learning Indiana, said the organization aims to award about 200 grants.
“The earliest years of life are some of the most important when it comes to healthy brain development,” Weber said. “And the neural pathways that form the basis for all future learning really have their start in these very earliest years.”
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Weber said they are focused on all types of programs and projects that meet the diverse needs of children throughout the state.
“We hope that we’ll see proposals that will strengthen families through home visiting programs and parenting training programs; that we will see opportunities to further expand supportive childcare; that will see programs that will help identify developmental delays and other needs earlier so that we can create responsive interventions,” Weber said. “And then lastly, [we hope to] really address what we know is the need for strengthening our early literacy all across the birth-to-five continuum.”
Weber said the earliest years of a child’s life are among the hardest to serve when it comes to childcare.
“We know that there is more demand for infant and toddler seats than for any other seats because of ratio requirements that require very few children to be served by a single adult,” she said. “And so that puts extra strain on families as they seek childcare, especially.”
The Early Years Initiative is open to organizations such as social service providers, faith-based organizations, community foundations, United Way chapters, child care providers, school districts, higher education institutions and other not-for-profit organizations.
ELI said the grants will fund programs and projects that “influence healthy brain development in young children and other aspects of their physical, social-emotional and cognitive well-being.”
Weber adds the work done to support children at such a young age will create benefits down the road.
“The work that happens in that foundational brain development in the years between birth and three really does form the basis for all future learning,” she said. “And so we would expect that as we take better care of our infants and toddlers and meet their developmental means that we will see dividends far down the road when when they enter kindergarten and beyond.”
ELI expects to award grants ranging from $75,000 to $500,000, and proposals are due by June 15.
The organization said the initiative will have a focus on the needs of children in low-income households, children from communities of color, and children who are multi-language learners.
An announcement on funding decisions is expected by August 31. You can learn more about the Early Years Initiative by clicking here.