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Grantmaking

Areas of Support

In 1993, the Foundation’s board of directors changed the direction of the Education Program naming it Focus on Quality, focusing on the needs of Chicago’s youngest children. Today, under the label Birth-to-Great Illinois, our commitment to children ages’ birth-to-eight continues. From the start, the Foundation has taken a comprehensive approach to address the complexities of early care and education. Our funding promotes a system of high-quality early care and education in Illinois and in Chicago’s low-income communities. We support quality enhancement activities through our three funding priority areas: public policy, public awareness and building quality infrastructure.

Public Policy
The Foundation supports efforts to increase public and private investments in early care and education and to create policies that lead to a system of quality early care and education. Efforts include, but are not limited to, those designed to:

  • maintain public and private support for universal access to quality early care and education and its successful implementation;
  • increase the amount and availability of funds for early care and education programs overall and per child;
  • ensure that quality assurance strategies, which support professional development and program quality improvement, are embedded in state government; and
  • create better links in the educational continuum which begins at birth and continues through grade three and beyond.


Building Quality Infrastructure
The Foundation supports efforts to strengthen the state’s infrastructure by improving the quality of the professionals and programs that provide early care and education in Illinois and ensuring that quality is continuously improving. Efforts include those designed to:

  • increase the skill and knowledge of early childhood teachers and leaders;
  • promote a unified system of professional standards and credentials for the field;
  • assess and improve the quality of early childhood programs including national accreditation; and
  • construct a streamlined system that measures outcomes as well as inputs and provides resources where improvement is needed.


Public Awareness
The Foundation supports efforts to heighten public awareness of quality early care and education and its benefits. Efforts include, but are not limited to, those designed to:

  • motivate support for investments in early childhood;
  • promote the perception of early childhood professionals as educators;
  • educate the public about child development and quality early care and education; and
  • educate the public about the role of parents as a child’s first teacher.