Pritzker Early Education Foundation Cradles the Birth-to-Five Demographic

As one of the nation's leading philanthropists, J.B. Pritzker has always had his finger on the pulse of early education. Pritzker created the Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development at the University of Chicago and the Children's Initiative to fund research and programs for underserved communities. More recently, the Pritzker Early Childhood Foundation granted $20,000 to train professionals to help prevent child abuse and build healthy family relationships at the Carole Robertson Center for Learning. (See Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation: Chicago Area Grants).

Situated in Chicago's low-income west side, this non-profit, multicultural learning center features music, literacy, and health programs to support children and teenagers from birth through age eighteen. Although it operates for fifteen hours a day and serves more than 700 children and their families, the Carole Robertson Center is centered around the birth-to-five-years demographic.

Since Pritzker's philanthropic focus is on high-quality early childhood education for at-risk youth, it should come as no surprise that his grantmaking is targeted at the under-five crowd. Formed in 2003, the Pritzker Early Childhood Foundation (PECF) works within two main categories for grantmaking: Professional Development and Replication. Professional Development grants support training and technical for staff in proven practices. The Carole Robertson Center grant fit into this category for the 2012-2013 period.

The Replication grants support organizations that work with multiple sites to broaden the reach and effectiveness of evidence-based practices and programs. As of Spring 2012, PECF began concentrating its grantmaking in the city of Chicago and state of Illinois. Although they will consider grants from other geographic locations, primary consideration is given to local nonprofits.

Pritzker also has a third grant category, known as the Early Childhood Improvement Program (EQUIP), which is a collaboration of five Chicago funders dedicated to birth-to-five philanthropy. One-year grants can reach $7,500 to improve infrastructure, and second-year grants of up to $4,500 are made to non-profits that show significant progress. Your early education nonprofit could have a good chance at an EQUIP grant with Pritzker if your programs improve early literacy and math, find new ways to handle behavior problems, or use the arts to encourage development.

Although there are no specific applications forms, your non-profit should submit a proposal by either February 15 or August 15 to be considered for Replication or Professional Development grant. To be considered for an EQUIP grant, you must submit your proposal by June 8. Additional application details can be found on the PECF website or by emailing