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Focus Area

Early Childhood Education


A child’s experiences before they turn five can make or break their success and happiness for the rest of their lives. Quality early childhood education (ECE) helps ensure that the critical development stage from birth to age 5—when 90% of a child’s brain develops—is an enriching and educational experience that prepares children to build relationships, learn in school, and graduate ready for college or careers.

Our Approach

Over the last 25 years, Reinvestment Fund has invested over $30 million in early childhood education (ECE). Our high-impact, high-efficiency investments are based on a revolutionary combination of data that analyzes:

  1. the supply of early childcare centers (including non-licensed centers),
  2. the quality of each center, and
  3. the demand for these centers—based both on where families live and where they commute.

We find the gaps between this supply and demand, neighborhood by neighborhood. We also compare this information with demographic and economic data to identify the communities where increased resources can have the greatest impact. In partnership with visionary investors and a steering committee of local experts, we make targeted investments that give more children the opportunity to get the high-quality early childhood education they deserve.

Our Lending, Grants & Capacity Building Resources

Our investment strategies are remarkably precise because they are based on the specific challenges and existing resources unique to each place we work. We pair our investments with on-the-ground technical assistance to increase the availability, quality, and sustainability of early learning centers for every child in every neighborhood. Our strategy increases the availability and quality of childcare in the exact places where families need it most. This approach—driven by smart data and collaborative partnerships—can make a difference in cities across America. Learn more about our programs:

  • Fund for Quality: Business planning support and facilities-related financing to support high-quality early care and education providers in Philadelphia with expanding their services to reach more low-income families.
  • The Early Learning Support Grant (ELSG) offers resources to Child Development Homes by giving access to flexible grant funding to support the care of children throughout Washington, D.C.

Our Research and Analytics

Reinvestment Fund’s Policy Solutions team has developed an approach to modeling the supply (total, state certified, rated high-quality), demand, and also the gaps in care across localities. The analysis has been successfully applied to Philadelphia, PA, the five-county Atlanta, GA region, Newark, NJ, Passaic County, NJ, and Washington, DC.

Because there is typically no single data source for this information, the model statistically estimates the supply of and demand for child care by combining multiple datasets. Additionally, in each study area, Reinvestment Fund assembles a stakeholder group of local early childhood experts to vet the data and review statistical and spatial methods to ensure results show an accurate portrait of child care. Explore some examples of the work:

For more information, contact

Emily Dowdall
Managing Director for Policy Solutions
Karen Bustard
Senior Program Manager

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