July 1, 2024 – San Diego, CA – San Diego Foundation (SDF) and the Dr. Seuss Foundation announced today that they have awarded more than $1.3 million in grants to local nonprofits supporting early childhood education and care for San Diego families with young children ages 0 – 5.

“Access to affordable, quality care, education and mental and behavioral health resources is essential to the health, development and future success of San Diego’s youngest residents,” said Pamela Gray Payton, SDF VP, Chief Impact and Partnerships Officer. “San Diego Foundation grants will support the essential services that help families grow and thrive.”

The Early Childhood Initiative at SDF increases access to quality, affordable early childhood education and developmental care in San Diego County. This year’s grant builds on the foundation’s partnership with the Dr. Seuss Foundation, which expanded in 2022 to include a focus on early literacy.

“The Dr. Seuss Foundation is committed to improving literacy and learning, and through this partnership, we are focused on ensuring young children have access to learning opportunities that build the foundation for lifelong success,” said Jay Hill, Executive Director of the Dr. Seuss Foundation.

This ongoing collaboration supports school readiness and equitable access to opportunity that ensures a strong foundation for literacy in the earliest years. This approach recognizes the connection between educational readiness and social determinants of health, such as whole-family health, financial security and access to supportive services. According to the 2024 Kids Count Data Book by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 69% of California’s fourth graders are not reading proficiently and 82% of the state’s fourth graders who qualify for free or reduced lunch are not reading proficiently.

Understanding that the earliest years of life are a critical time for mental and behavioral development that impacts educational readiness and opportunities for a lifetime, Early Childhood Initiative grants support:

  • Early literacy and access to early education;
  • Instructional quality improvements and educational staff support;
  • Healthy, equitable starts for children and parents;
  • And trauma screening, prevention and intervention.

The 2024 Early Childhood Initiative at SDF grantees include:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics – California Chapter 3 – $70,000 to incorporate books and literacy guidance as a standard of care in pediatric medical offices, fostering emotional bonding and healthy cognitive and social development.
  • Chicano Federation of San Diego County – $70,000 to expand age-appropriate mental health services for children ages 0 – 5 and their families throughout all early childhood education and development programs.
  • Diamond Educational Excellence Partnership – $70,000 to strengthen the capacity of caregivers to provide children ages 0-5 with learning experiences that prepare them for kindergarten success and third-grade reading proficiency.
  • Episcopal Community Services – $70,000 to provide bilingual mental health services including assessments, therapy, school observations, and parenting classes for low-income children and their parents.
  • Global Communities – $70,000 to provide language-appropriate and culturally congruent prenatal, birth and postpartum services focused on Black and low-income immigrant communities.
  • Home Start Inc. – $55,000 to provide life-changing therapy to San Diego children in crisis ages 0-5 who are suffering from domestic violence and other traumatic living conditions.
  • Horn of Africa – $70,000 to provide refugee families with young children access to early childhood education, health insurance, prenatal and health care, parent/child instruction, childcare and parental opportunities for career development.
  • International Rescue Committee – $65,000 to expand a holistic support group for displaced families that mitigates the effects of trauma, strengthens families and empowers them to achieve health and well-being.
  • Neighborhood House Association – $70,000 to reduce the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and enhance the well-being of families by incorporating the Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences (HOPE) framework.
  • True Care – $70,000 to provide early literacy and development programming for disadvantaged children ages 0-5 and their parents that help mitigate toxic stress and foster healthy socio-emotional development.
  • Palomar Family Counseling Service – $70,000 to strengthen the capacity of early childhood education centers to offer high-quality programs that include evidence-based preventive mental health interventions for low-income children of color and their families.
  • Reading Legacies – $70,000 to prepare young children for success in school by promoting literacy and connecting families through facilitated read-aloud experiences at homes, correctional facilities, childcare centers and other community settings.
  • San Diego Rescue Mission – $70,000 to provide trauma-informed screenings, care, and resources for young children and their caregivers experiencing homelessness.
  • San Diego Youth Services – $70,000 to provide comprehensive, trauma-informed care and services for transitional-age youth who are pregnant and/or parenting and their children.
  • SBCS – $70,000 to increase access to early literacy, quality childcare and early mental health/developmental screenings for young children in Chula Vista.
  • Somali Family Services of San Diego – $70,000 to provide culturally attuned services that improve early literacy and development for children ages 0 – 5 from low-income, refugee backgrounds.
  • Southern Indian Health Council – $70,000 to increase early childhood mental health training for clinicians working in Native American communities to help improve access to quality care.
  • United Women of East Africa Support Team – $70,000 to implement culturally appropriate, evidence-based positive parenting programs for refugee parents that also incorporate social supports, CPR, mental health first aid, and conflict resolution.
  • Voices for Children – $35,000 to advocate and provide resources for children, ages 0–5, who have experienced abuse and neglect, through the support from Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs).
  • Words Alive – $65,000 to provide early literacy and language development sessions for children ages 0 – 5 and their caregivers to support skills, habits and confidence for continued reading engagement.

The Early Childhood Initiative at SDF builds upon a regional vision supporting immediate impact initiatives and systems-level change in early education and care. Since 2018, the Early Childhood Initiative at SDF has impacted the lives of more than 38,000 individuals by awarding more than $9.3 million to uplift children, families and childcare providers by providing over 135 grants to 50-plus community-based organizations in San Diego County.

About San Diego Foundation

San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve the quality of life in our region. Our strategic priorities include advancing racial and social justice, fostering equity of opportunity, building resilient communities, and delivering world-class philanthropy to realize our vision of just, equitable and resilient communities. San Diego Foundation is dedicated to helping San Diego County’s nearly 700,000 residents under the age of 18 and 200,000 under the age of 5 grow, learn and thrive. For more than 49 years, SDF and its donors have granted $1.8 billion to support nonprofit organizations strengthening our community. Learn more at SDFoundation.org.

About the Dr. Seuss Foundation

The Dr. Seuss Foundation is a catalyst for early literacy development in all its forms through strategic community partnerships and investments that inspire learning, spark imagination, and expand opportunities for all children. Learn more at DrSeussFoundation.org.


Lorena Nava Ruggero, San Diego Foundation, lruggero@sdfoundation.org, 619-814-1365