Community Responsive Grant Guidelines

About the Early Childhood Initiative

The San Diego Foundation is committed to creating a thriving region. Understanding that early childhood care is essential to supporting families and ensuring long-term success for children, the Early Childhood Initiative strives to increase access to quality, affordable early childhood education and developmental care in San Diego County. The Early Childhood Initiative works collaboratively with regional partners to:

  • Strengthen families
  • Reduce inequality, break the cycle of poverty
  • Bolster the regional workforce
  • Support economic growth

Note: In addition to this grant, the upcoming Early Childhood Initiative Challenge & Innovation Grant will launch in May 2020.

The Funding Opportunity


The goal of the Early Childhood Initiative Community Responsive grant is to increase access to quality, affordable early childhood education and developmental care in San Diego County by supporting nonprofit organizations addressing relevant, timely challenges and opportunities.


  • Data and research: Support critical research, data collection, or research networks to build a coherent narrative around the needs of early childhood care programs.
  • Nonprofit capacity building: Provide operational support and resources to expand access to early childhood care programs.
  • Network building: Build connections with community stakeholders to increase awareness, catalyze investment, and build shared priorities.
  • Small business support: Provide technical assistance, business counseling, financial capital and other assistance to early child care providers in order to support their increase in quality education and developmental content, along with their growth as entrepreneurs and small business owners.
  • Facility expansions: Improve facilities to increase number of spaces available for children in early childhood care.
  • Instructional quality improvements: Support professional training, curriculum development and counseling to improve instructional quality and teacher retention.
  • Mental health and early intervention: Strengthen early intervention, prevention and mental health services for children ages 0-5 and their families.

Grant Criteria & Eligibility

Each proposal must be led by a nonprofit with 501(c)(3) public charity status, located in and serving San Diego County. A 501(c)(3) public charity may serve as a fiscal sponsor for another applicant to administer the grant and provide regular financial reporting to The San Diego Foundation.


  • Organizations may be part of more than one proposal, but may only serve as lead applicant for one proposal
  • Projects must be completed within a 12-month timeline
  • The San Diego Foundation will not fund endowments, existing obligations/debt, scholarships, or projects that promote religious or political doctrines
  • Projects must work to expand care for low-to-moderate income communities and/or populations experiencing health disparities or negative social determinants of health


  • Leverage funds from other partners
  • Articulate a strategy for project success
  • Show potential for community impact
  • Exhibit organizational strength and strong community partnerships
  • Connect authentically with the community you serve

Important Dates

  • January 30, 2020: Grant application opens
  • Deadline extended — March 18, 2020 5:00 p.m.: Application period closes
  • May 8, 2020: Applicants will be notified

Frequently Asked Questions

How do we apply?
Applications will be accepted from January 30, 2020 to March 18, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. PST. All applications must be submitted online using the link or click on the “Apply Now” button below.

How much can we request?
The San Diego Foundation will accept requests up to $25,000.

Who can I contact if I have a question?
Due to high volume, we will be able to answer questions about the application during office hours on: Friday, February 21, 2020 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Please note that questions will only be answered during office hours.

Call in: +1-858-433-6211
PIN: 764687

Who is eligible to apply?
To be eligible for a Community Responsive grant from The San Diego Foundation, organizations must have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status and provide services in San Diego County. An organization may serve as a fiscal sponsor for a charitable organization that does not have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status if a cooperative relationship between the two can be clearly demonstrated. The fiscal sponsor must be willing to administer the grant if awarded. Please see Eligibility & Recommendations above.

What is the grant period?
Projects must be implemented within 12 months of grant approval.

When will applicants be notified?
Applicants will be notified by May 8, 2020.

What if I encounter any technical issues?
Please contact the Grants Manager at

Apply Now