Bay Area Early Childhood Funders


The Early Childhood Funders (ECF) is an informal affiliation of Bay Area foundations, public funders and private donors focused on improving grantmaking effectiveness in the early childhood field. Membership in ECF is voluntary, members meet three to four times a year to broaden their knowledge of the early childhood field, share information, engage in dialogue, and participate in joint funding activities to improve the lives of young children and their families.

General information about ECF and its major projects, as well as resources and reports are available on this website as well as information about the 1997-2002 Quality Child Care Initiative. ECF is a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives.



See below for an ECF brochure and membership list.




See below for a list of reports, articles and other early childhood resources.





Click here for the PDF brochure about the Early Childhood Funders.

Click here for a membership list.




* Immigration Reform and its Impact on Children
* California Leaders for Children – 2018 Gubernatorial Campaign

* Minding our Words: Messaging to Win Better Policy for California's Children and Families
* Family Engagement
* Improving Early Childhood Compensation

* Local Funding Initiatives
* A New Way of Looking at Parent Support
* The State of Infant and Toddler Care

* Help Me Grow and the California Comprehensive Learning Plan
* Messaging, Public Policy and Advocacy

* Addressing Childhood Poverty and Financial Stability for Families

* Federal and State Early Learning Opportunities
* Promise Neighborhoods and Regional Race to the Top efforts

* Early Childhood Mental Health

* A Blueprint for Great Schools: Superintendent of Public Instruction TomTorlakson
* Grade Level Reading/All American Cities Award: Ralph Smith, Annie E. Casey Foundation
* Messaging, media and movement strategies: Former Superintendent Eastin; Ron Lally, WestEd

* Federal and State Policy Update
* American Birthright Campaign
* The Future of PreK and Transitional K


For more information about the Early Childhood Funders please email us at or call 415-733-8576.

Help support the Early Childhood Funders by offering a donation through the Community Initiatives website.
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The Value of Play for Early Learning

The Early Childhood Funders (ECF) has produced two publications on the importance of play for early learning. Copies are available for a minimal postage and handling charge. Play materials are being distributed by Bananas Child Care Resource and Referral Agency for ECF; payment online or by check accepted.

Click here to order Policy Brief or Pamphlets ONLINE


The policy brief, Play in the Early Years: Key to School Success, was produced to educate policy makers, legislators, school superintendents, and early care and education organizations and advocates of the value of play for early learning. This research-based brief explains how play contributes to school success by helping children develop the skills necessary for the development of logic, literacy, self-regulation and social negotiation, critical thinking, and leadership. The brief describes the importance of play for early learning and emphasizes that play is not a break from learning-it is the way young children learn. The brief also highlights how the benefits of play increase when children have skilled teachers who are well-trained in understanding how play contributes to learning.

The play pamphlet, Play: It's the way young children learn, is an easy-to-read less academic version of the policy brief intended to help parents and teachers increase their knowledge of the importance of play for early learning, provide resources for parents and early care and education teachers to better support the development of young children, and to educate parents and providers that play is not a break from learning - it is the way young children learn. The pamphlet is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Farsi.


Engaging Business to Champion Early Care and Education

The Early Childhood Funders formed a partnership with the Bay Area Council to engage business to support early childhood education. Business leaders are aware that a well-educated high-performing workforce is critical to competing in a global economy. Research shows that investments in high-quality educational experiences significantly improve not only school achievement but also a range of social and emotional outcomes throughout life. Economists have shown that public investments in high-quality early care and education generate a higher rate of return than almost any other public investment.

The Early Childhood Funders worked with the Bay Area Council to produce the report, Key to Economic Success in the 21st Century: Investment in Early Childhood Program, which summarizes much of the research available on the value of early care and education.

Click below to download the report:

Messaging/Policy Project

An ECF Messaging/Policy committee was established in 2010 to explore the development of a messaging campaign to promote the value and importance of early childhood development and to unify early childhood advocates. The committee held a facilitated convening in March 2011 with 12 different ECE advocacy groups and gained their consensus on the value of unified messaging to promote early childhood development among policy makers and the general voting public. In addition, the committee conducted a review of the early childhood literature to identify common themes, and interviewed 23 early childhood leaders representing a variety of points of view and organizations, to get their input on the themes identified. ECF's objective was: to develop a long-term media effort to communicate to voters the importance of, support for and investment in early childhood development and to unify and expand the field of advocates supporting this messaging campaign.

ECF continued to explore the role it can play to increase support for early childhood development considering a number of options. The ECF Messaging Committee hosted a convening on October 13, 2016 with communications specialist Anat Shenker Osorio to explore the messages that we use and how this helps or hinders making the case for California’s children. The day-long forum Minding our Words: Messaging to Win Better Policy for California’s Children and Families included ECF members and invited representatives from local and statewide children’s advocacy groups. At the forum we explored the “frames” that we use to promote our vision, how people process information and communicate, and how we can better shape our messages to influence policy makers and the public. A comprehensive Language Analysis Messaging Report and a shorter Messaging Brief are available below.

If you are interested in learning more about this effort or in joining us, please let us know at





Following is a list of early childhood resources that have been shared with ECF members over the years. In addition, information is provided about the 1997-2002 successful joint funding effort – the Quality Child Care Initiative.

  • Family at the Center
    By harder+company and LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment
    May 2016, PDF format
  • Word Gap slide
    by Bay Area Council's messaging project
    February 2014, pdf format





In 1997, the ECF created the Quality Child Care Initiative (QCCI) to promote the need for quality child care in response to welfare reform. Over five years, in two separate funding rounds, QCCI raised more than $4 million and issued over 80 grants aimed at building a sustainable child care workforce, strengthening advocacy for child care, creating new and improved child care facilities, and making child care more accessible to families.

The following documents and reports describe QCCI activities and lessons learned from the Second Round of grantmaking. The entire report is available, as well as an Executive Summary, and the individual chapters of the report detailing the grantee funding areas. The report from Round One of funding is also available. They are hosted by Action Alliance for Children on behalf of the Early Childhood Funders.