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News November 2, 2021

Reinvestment Fund Awards $1.5 Million in Grants to Early Education Providers

Assistance comes as 1 in 4 Early Learning Sites in Philadelphia Report Risk of Closure/Consolidation this Fall

Philadelphia, Nov 2, 2021 – 
To help Philadelphia-area early childhood centers continue operating this fall, Reinvestment Fund has awarded a third round of relief aid totaling $1.5 million under the Philadelphia Emergency Fund for Stabilization of Early Education (PEFSEE). Since launching in April 2020, PEFSEE has provided $8.3 million in emergency grants to 416 childcare providers in Philadelphia.

Initially funded through grants from the William Penn Foundation and Vanguard’s Strong Start for Kids Program™, PEFSEE has since received additional funding from PNC Bank, Wells Fargo, and individual contributors. The program supports Philadelphia childcare providers who are struggling to sustain their businesses and early learning support for families through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Philadelphia’s early learning system consists of independent providers and small networks,” shared Sara Vernon Sterman, Chief Program Officer at Reinvestment Fund. “They are essential businesses on the brink of closure if they are not helped, and the fallout will have much greater implications than meets the eye. There will be a significant impact not just on children’s futures, but on employees and business owners and their families, and of course the tens of thousands of parents and caregivers who rely on this essential care to continue their own work.”

In a June survey conducted by Reinvestment Fund, many early learning organizations reported the ongoing need for enrollment and staffing support as well as a greater need for cleaning supplies. They also reported large enrollment declines, with average utilization across respondents at around 60 percent, making one in four at risk for consolidation or closure this fall.

Many of these businesses are owned by women and/or people of color. In addition to PPP and other federal funding accessed in 2020, nearly a quarter of those Reinvestment Fund surveyed have needed to tap additional non-grant resources and credit – with borrowing from family/friends listed as the most common resource.

“Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund enlists the expertise of CDFIs like the Reinvestment Fund to help diverse Philadelphia entrepreneurs recover and preserve the jobs they provide in their communities,” said Stephen Briggs, Wells Fargo vice president of Social Impact and Sustainability. “And I cannot think of a better use of these funds than to support childcare providers who help our children develop and help their parents who frequently work jobs that must be performed in-person.”

In addition to the funding, this fall, PEFSEE grantees are invited to participate in “Flourishing Together”, a three-part trauma-informed early care and education professional learning initiative from First Up, with support from United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and Vanguard’s Strong Start for Kids Program.

“We recognize that the upheavals in family life and the early care and education industry have had a significant effect on young children, their families, and educators,” said Jillian Best Adler, Director of Equity Initiatives at First Up.  “The impacts of such stress can cause trauma, which influences executive functioning, learning, and emotional regulation.  It is critical for educators to have access to strategies to better understand children’s behaviors, and their own, through a “trauma lens” and to respond with trauma-informed practices.”

The 416 childcare providers that have received grants to date include single-site centers, multi-site centers, home-based centers, group homes, early intervention and home visiting Services. High-quality (STARS 3 and 4) providers and STARS 2 (majority of which participate in move-up or quality improvement activities) make up 61% of awardees; and 39% were STARS 1. Of the total awardees, 87% are women-owned organizations and 74% are people of color. Funds will maintain 31,187 of Philadelphia’s licensed childcare seat capacity.



About Reinvestment Fund

Reinvestment Fund is a mission-driven financial institution committed to making communities work for all people. We bring financial and analytical tools to partnerships that work to ensure that everyone has access to essential opportunities: affordable places to live, access to nutritious food and health care, schools where their children can flourish, and strong, local businesses that support jobs. We use data to understand markets, communities, and impediments to opportunity—and how investment and policy decisions can have the most powerful impact. Since our inception in 1985, Reinvestment Fund has provided over $2.7 billion in financing to strengthen neighborhoods, scale social enterprises, and build resilient communities. Beginning with the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI) in 2004, Reinvestment Fund has developed a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to improving the food landscape for low-income people. Since that time, we have provided $323 million in grants and loans to healthy food projects. Learn more at

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