WARSAW — Early Learning Indiana, based in Indianapolis, recently announced 86 organizations that will be receiving grant money through the Early Years Initiative. Among the recipients is LaunchPad, a Kosciusko County-based child care and early learning coalition that will get $183,000.
Early Years Initiative, with support from Lilly Endowment Inc., is a competitive grant program to help strengthen communities’ efforts to support the learning and development of infants and toddlers in Indiana.
Through more than $31 million in grants of up to $500,000 each, the 86 organizations will work to maximize the critical period of growth and brain development in very young children during their first three years of life. The awarded projects and programs are designed to help Hoosier families support the cognitive, social-emotional and physical well-being of infants and toddlers. Funding will support:
- The development of more than 1,500 new infant and toddler seats in high-quality child care settings in communities facing the most critical need for early child education services
- A total of 46 programs that will work to strengthen families through home visits and parent education offerings
- Efforts from 30 organizations to help with early detection of special needs or disabilities among very young children and provide responsive interventions
- 15 programs that will promote essential skills through early language enhancement strategies
The Early Years Initiative has a particular focus on infants and toddlers in low-income families, in families within communities of color and families where very young children are multi-language learners.
All 86 organizations will serve families in low-income households; 69% of grantees will serve members of communities of color; and 63% will serve multi-language learners.
Early Learning Indiana launched the initiative in March 2023 with support from a $50 million grant from Lilly Endowment. Organizations from all corners of the state responded to the request for funding. Awarded organizations include social service providers, faith-based organizations, community foundations, United Ways, child care providers, school districts, higher education institutions and other not-for-profit organizations. View the full list of recipients at EarlyYearsInitiative.org.
“We were encouraged by the range of proposals received from community organizations that care deeply about ensuring infants and toddlers in their communities develop the foundational knowledge and skills that support their future learning and development,” said Early Learning Indiana President and Chief Executive Officer Maureen Weber. “We only have a few short years to set our youngest Hoosiers on a path to thrive in life, and the work of these organizations across the state will enable us to make the most of these years while deepening our understanding about which efforts are most effective.”
Studies show a child’s brain is hardest at work during the first three years of life, busy creating the foundation for all future learning capacity, social-emotional development, and mental and physical health.
“The environment and experiences of a child’s first three years of life substantially influence cognitive, social, emotional and physical development and often affect long-term academic success and quality of life,” said Ted Maple, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education. “We are enthusiastic about the potential impact these funded efforts will have on very young children and their families in our state.”
The Early Years Initiative is a three-year effort. Early Learning Indiana will share details about additional funding opportunities and other efforts of the initiative in early 2024.
“LaunchPad is thrilled to be named as a grant recipient of Early Learning Indiana’s Early Learning Initiative,” said Sherry Searles, LaunchPad director. “The funds we receive, totaling $183,000, will be used to assist Tippecanoe Valley School Corp. and Wawasee Community Schools in licensing infant and toddler classrooms within their school buildings. In addition, a portion of the funding will be used to ensure that all staff receive instruction in supporting healthy brain development.”