For more than 10 years, the Heising-Simons Foundation has made grants that reflect our deep care for, and interest in, young children and their education. It’s a child’s early years of life that are especially formative and we, among many other champions of early childhood education, recognize that this is the time to lay the foundation for the future.
All children deserve access to opportunities that support them to thrive––in school, at home, and in the community. Yet, for millions of children, their families, and their communities in the United States, access to such opportunities is curtailed by historic and present-day policies and practices that work in reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequities. Gaps start early and result in much lower rates of college completion and social mobility for children from families with low incomes and children of color. While we do not believe that our work—or even the whole education system—can by itself close such gaps, we do believe that philanthropy has a responsibility to focus its resources on reducing these disparities.
With this in mind, the Foundation’s Education program went through a year-long comprehensive strategic refresh, which we are pleased to share today via our updated Education program webpages and via the executive summary of our new strategy.
The new goal of the Foundation’s grantmaking in education is to facilitate the creation and strengthening of early childhood systems necessary for children from low-income families and children of color to reach their full potential by the year 2044, the year when the US becomes majority-minority.
The Foundation’s work focuses on both California and the United States, spans birth-to-3rd-grade, and recognizes that early learning happens in many settings, both within the formal education system and outside of it—most notably, within families. Our two complementary portfolios include initiatives that support enabling systemic conditions for high-quality adult-child interactions and positive learning environments, and on fostering effective practices that promote these interactions.
I want to thank all of you who have contributed so thoughtfully to our strategic planning process, and I invite you to learn more about this work here.