Community Resilience 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

The Funding Opportunity

The San Diego Foundation is proud to announce $1 million in total funding for Early Childhood Initiative Resilience grant. Organizations may request a maximum of $150,000 each in funding support.


The goal of Early Childhood Initiative Resilience grant is to increase access to quality, affordable early education and care for children and families. This includes efforts to strengthen the regional ecosystem, increase cross-sector collaboration, and promote systems-level change through strategic and collective impact.


The following are strategies that support the goal of Early Childhood Initiative Resilience grant. Organizations will be asked to identify the lead strategy they plan to employ in their application. All applicants are encouraged to address service and support for low-moderate income families, and communities experiencing negative social determinants of health.

Resources & Support for Disproportionately Impacted Children & Families

Respond to the needs of children ages 0-5 and families experiencing financial hardship, and/or populations experiencing health disparities. These strategies may include access to critical resources and must also identify plans to connect children and families to early childhood care, family strengthening efforts, and related services.

Mental/Behavioral Health & Early Intervention

Strengthen and expand access to mental and behavioral health services for children ages 0-5 and their families as part of an effort to increase intervention and developmental support for children.

Abuse Prevention

Strengthen and expand access to preventative and interventive services for children ages 0-5 and their families, including family strengthening efforts and systems-level impact initiatives that expand abuse prevention and related services.

Strengthen Small Providers Through Access to Capital

Administer innovative impact investing/microlending models that support small early childcare providers, with a focus on those that serve low-moderate income families, provide affordable care, and those that have adopted or will adopt high quality instructional standards and practices.

Service and Facility Expansions

Expand facilities to increase the number of spaces available for children 0-5, or make services available to more families through innovative developments that enable expanded access to care (based on COVID-19 requirements).

Instructional Quality Improvements & Staff Support

Support professional training, curriculum development, materials, supplies and counseling to improve instructional practices and support early childhood staff. Projects should illustrate a broad impact on instructional quality and staff support/retention, with potential to impact a group or network of early childhood professionals.

Systems-level change initiatives

Develop strategic cross-sector initiatives to inform public policy and advance efforts to remove systemic barriers to early care and related services. Strengthen opportunities for the San Diego region to receive increased public funding in support of access to early care for low-moderate income families.

Grant Eligibility and Recommendations


  • Each proposal must be led by a nonprofit with 501(c)(3) public charity status, operating 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 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 an 18-month timeline.
  • Previous applicants or recipients of Early Childhood Initiative funding are eligible to apply.
  • The Foundation will not fund endowments, existing obligations/debt, scholarships, or projects that promote religious or political doctrines.
  • Projects must expand care for low-to-moderate income communities and/or populations experiencing health disparities or negative social determinants of health.
  • Projects will serve children from ages 0-5 in the areas of educational and cognitive development, physical and mental health, abuse prevention, early intervention and care, children experiencing trauma or homelessness/housing insecurity, or similar field of care.
  • Given our focus on long-lasting solutions and building the capacity of this sector, projects must demonstrate having other significant resources or plans in place to ensure program longevity.


  • Leverage, align funds, and catalyze investment with other partners
  • Articulate a strategy for project success
  • Show potential for community impact
  • Exhibit organizational strength, past performance, and strong community partnerships
  • Demonstrate ability to connect authentically with the community served


Applicants interested in applying as part of a partnership should communicate how participating organizations will achieve stated goals by establishing a division of labor, a clear accountability framework, and a shared budget related to specified and/or joint responsibilities.

For applications that identify multiple Funded Partners, the maximum award total is $200,000 between all funded partners, with the lead organization receiving no more than $150,000.

For applications that identify a lead organization and unfunded Supporting Partners, the application maximum is $150,000.

Funded Partners

Proposals may identify more than one funded organization, with one lead 501(c)(3) non-profit serving as the responsible entity for the purposes of submitting and managing the grant and related reporting obligations. This organization must demonstrate relevant financial capacity, as well as related past performance. As part of the application, all partners will be required to submit a letter of support communicating the organization’s commitment to implementing the goals of the partnership, and a budget.

Supporting Partners

Proposals may include one lead organization and supporting partner entities will not receiving direct funding as a result of the grant. As part of the application, organizations will be asked to describe the nature of the partnership and submit letters of support.

Important Dates

  • June 9, 2020: Application period opens
  • July 17, 2020: Final Applications are due
  • October 2020*: Applicants are notified of award

*These dates are tentative

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should apply?

Each proposal must be led by a nonprofit with 501(c)(3) public charity status, operating in and serving San Diego County. Nonprofit service providers, public agencies, and academic or research institutions are encouraged to apply. Strategic partnerships that align public sector investment with philanthropy or expand organizational and service capacity are encouraged but not required.

How do we apply?

All applications must be submitted online using the link here or click on the “Apply Now” button below.

What is the deadline?

Applications will be accepted until July 17, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. PST.

What is the age range for early childhood?

Early childhood is identified as 0-5 years of age.

How do we define low-to-moderate income?

For the purposes of this grant, low-to-moderate income will be defined based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant guidelines.

How much can we request?

The Foundation will accept requests up to $150,000 per organization. Please see ‘Partnerships’ section for additional details.

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:

  • June 17, 2020 from 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
  • July 9, 2020 from 12:00 – 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 an Early Childhood Initiative Resilience Grant, 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 18 months of grant approval.

When will applicants be notified?

Applicants will be notified in October 2020.

What if I encounter any technical issues?

Please contact the Grants Administration at

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