The San Diego Foundation announced $1.3 million through its Early Childhood Initiative. The grants will support eight nonprofit programs in San Diego county, with awards ranging in value from $150,000 to $200,000.

The goal of the Early Childhood Initiative is to increase access to affordable, quality early care for children in San Diego, strengthening families and supporting a competitive regional workforce.

In a report released earlier this year, The San Diego Foundation and the San Diego Workforce Partnership established a strong link between childcare and economic development. The report outlines how the optimal childcare and workforce system requires everyone, including local governments, school districts, parents and organizations, to work together to improve San Diego’s workforce.

Since then, COVID-19 has seriously impacted childhood development by increasing inequities in learning opportunities and widening the digital divide. Even before the pandemic, the report showed that as many as 335,000 children in San Diego County who needed childcare, lacked access. As more childcare providers have had to close down or limit numbers, the demand for quality, affordable care has only grown while the supply has sharply declined. It’s more important than ever to ensure students of all backgrounds have equal access to the necessary programs, tools and teachers in order to succeed.

“We knew that childcare providers and families alike were facing obstacles before the emergence of a global pandemic and now, as a result of the economic and health crisis, those challenges have increased significantly,” shared Katie Rast, Director of Community Impact at The San Diego Foundation. “Right now, it’s critical that we invest in programs and organizations that will ensure all San Diego children and families receive equitable access to quality and affordable care.”

In the past year, The San Diego Foundation has granted more than $5 million through its Early Childhood Initiative and COVID-19 Community Response Fund to uplift children, families and childcare providers. This includes efforts to strengthen the regional ecosystem, increase cross-sector collaboration, and promote systems-level change through strategic and collective impact.

The current grants will result in service and facility expansions, improved access to early intervention and behavioral health support, and resources for disproportionately impacted children and families.

2020 Grants

The Early Childhood Initiative grants were awarded to eight nonprofit programs, including:

Educational Enrichment Systems, Inc. – $150,000
The grant will expand two existing programs – Education Coordination and Community and Family Engagement – to improve instructional quality and expand families’ access to community resources at three new full-day centers in the South Bay, providing care to over 200 additional low-income children.

Episcopal Community Services – $150,000
The grant will help Episcopal Community Services expand behavioral health services for children ages 0-5 and their families by hosting parenting groups focused on parent-child attachment at their Head Start Family Engagement Center. These early childhood programs serve families in the South Bay region of San Diego County – an area where more than 40% of families live in economic hardship.

Family Health Centers of San Diego – $150,000
The grant will allow the organization to institutionalize adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) screening for low-income, medically underserved children ages 0-5 in two high-volume pediatric clinics.

Neighborhood House Association – $150,000
The grant will enable Neighborhood House Association to offer full-time annual preschool scholarships to eligible San Diego working families experiencing financial hardship who do not qualify for federal or state-subsidized care.

Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) with Chicano Federation of San Diego County – $200,000
The grant will help PIQE and Chicano Federation work together to implement free training for early childhood care professionals. The training will help increase knowledge and skills among 80 family childcare providers, as well as equip them with the tools to address mental health issues and support low-income families in identifying challenges and accessing care in South San Diego County.

San Diego State University Research Foundation – $150,000
The grant will enable San Diego State University’s Center for Excellence in Early Development (CEED) to serve as a bridge between early childhood education, mental health, and pediatrics. The multi-tiered system will provide support for pediatricians involved in screening programs to identify children with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and prevent families from falling through the cracks of complex systems.

Somali Family Service of San Diego – $150,000
The grant will enable Somali Family Service of San Diego’s SHIFA Pediatric Initiative to promote early childhood health access, service navigation, and equity through a culturally sensitive and linguistically informed lens. This program will connect young children and their families to appropriate early childhood health services, including Registered Behavioral Technician assessments, medical services, and social worker case management. 

Southwestern College Foundation with International Rescue Committee (IRC) – $200,000
The grant will expand the number of individuals who receive training by the Southwestern College Family Studies department and obtain its Family Childcare Business Provider Certificate. Building upon a model that promotes collaboration and aims to increase the number of childcare providers in the region, the program will focus on training staff and clients of the Southwestern College San Diego Women’s Business Center and funded partner, International Rescue Committee.

About The San Diego Foundation

The San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve quality of life in our region. For more than 45 years, The Foundation and our donors have granted more than $1.2 billion to support nonprofit organizations and strengthen our SanDiego community. Learn more at and consider a donation to the Early Childhood Initiative, helping increase access to quality, affordable early childhood education and developmental care in San Diego County.


Justin Nunez, The San Diego Foundation, 336-254-7056,