Nonprofits are invited to apply for an Early Childhood Initiative Equitable Opportunities Grant through May 6

For Immediate Release

March 21, 2022 – San Diego, CA – The San Diego Foundation and the Dr. Seuss Foundation announced today a partnership to offer $1 million in grants to nonprofits supporting young children, ages 0 – 5, and their families in San Diego County.

“We are excited to partner with the Dr. Seuss Foundation on early literacy,” said Mark Stuart, President and CEO of The San Diego Foundation. “Their support helps intensify the focus on preparing a child to read in their earliest years – a time when brain development and learning is critical to academic success and lifelong learning.”

The 2022 Early Childhood Initiative Equitable Opportunities Grant supports nonprofit organizations implementing strategic efforts to build regional resilience by increasing equitable access to high-quality, affordable early education and support services for children, ages 0 – 5, and their caretakers. Past Early Childhood Initiative grants have increased access to quality, affordable early education and care through service expansions, improved access to early intervention and behavioral health supports, and resources for disproportionately impacted children and families.

The partnership between the foundations has enabled the expansion of this year’s Early Childhood Initiative grant, which will include a focus on supporting early grade-level readiness and access to opportunity by ensuring a strong foundation for literacy in the earliest years. This approach recognizes the connection between educational readiness and social determinants of health, considering whole family health, financial security and access to supportive services in the approach to early literacy and educational readiness.

“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.

Research confirms that patterns of learning in preschool are closely linked to later achievement: children who develop more skills in the preschool years perform better in the primary grades, particularly in the area of literacy. Yet locally in San Diego County, 72% of economically disadvantaged 3rd graders did not meet language and literacy standards in 2020-2021, according to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress

Research by the Annie E. Casey Foundation has also found that one in six children who are not reading proficiently by third grade fail to graduate from high school on time, which is four times greater than children with proficient third grade reading skills; high school graduation is connected to higher lifetime earnings and access to better living conditions. Access to high quality, affordable early education is critical to building resilient communities and fostering equity of opportunity, key pillars of The San Diego Foundation’s Strategic Plan.

In addition to early literacy, the Early Childhood Initiative Equitable Opportunities Grant will fund projects focusing on:

  • Early Education Service Expansions
  • Instructional Quality Improvements and Educational Staff Support
  • Healthy, Equitable Starts for Children and New Parents
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Prevention and Intervention

Nonprofit organizations are invited to apply through 2:00 p.m., Friday, May 6, at Maximum awards are expected to range between $75,000 and $100,000. The San Diego Foundation will host an optional Q&A webinar for interested nonprofit organizations at 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, April 6 (register online).

About the Dr. Seuss Foundation

The mission of the Dr. Seuss Foundation is to be a catalyst for improved literacy, broadly conceived, through strategic partnerships and investments. We envision a world in which all people, animals, and the environment are valued and thriving. Our focus is on improving literacy and learning as these are essential to succeeding in the multi-layered worlds of the arts and humanities, health and well-being, animal welfare, and the environment. To learn more, visit


Lorena Nava Ruggero, The San Diego Foundation, 619-309-5179,