Early Childhood Community Planning Grants

 

The Maine Community Foundation is offering a new grant opportunity to support its strategic vision that “all Maine children receive a healthy start and arrive at kindergarten developmentally prepared to succeed in school and life.” Beginning in 2018, MaineCF will award community planning grants to five communities. These communities will participate in a collaborative process to gather data about their 0-5 population, map community resources, identify barriers, and develop local solutions. The grant program is intended to inspire community-based learning and strategies to improve outcomes for young children and families so more children arrive at school ready to learn and thrive.

Background

Many factors influence a child’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development in the earliest years of life and shape the path to “kindergarten readiness.” It starts with a healthy birth, a family whose basic needs are met, positive relationships with parents and caregivers, and safety and security at home. Other factors include well visits to the doctor and dentist, early intervention services when needed, nutritious food, hearing books read, play that encourages early learning and socialization, and prevention of adverse childhood experiences. Indeed, children are more likely to arrive at school ready to learn when they are part of communities that value young children and families and that offer a broad range of resources and opportunities.

Contributing partners to this program include the John T. Gorman Foundation and Michael and Denise Dubyak.

Program Components

Early Childhood Planning Grant communities will develop:

1) A Local Network of community members from across sectors, including business leaders, school representatives, parents, and service providers. The applicant organization serves as the Network Coordinator. The network will meet regularly during the planning period to guide data analysis and develop a plan for improving kindergarten readiness in their community.
2) A Community Profile based on community-level data of key factors related to children ages 0-5, an inventory and mapping of local resources, and parent and provider surveys. A member of the network will serve as the Profile Manager to support the development and analysis of the Community Profile. MaineCF will provide a common framework and technical assistance related to the data collection.
3) An Action Plan that will include at least one community strategy to address challenges and improve kindergarten readiness. The plan will be based on learning from the profile and include plans to measure results to share with the community.

In addition, MaineCF will host up to four opportunities that will bring grantees together for shared learning across communities and group training. The expectation is that at least two members of each network will participate in these sessions.

MaineCF plans to offer Early Childhood Implementation Grants to grantee communities that seek additional resources to implement their proposed Action Plans.

Additional Information

1) The Network Coordinator is the primary applicant. This organization (nonprofit or public entity) will convene and coordinate the Local Network.

2) The Local Network comprises six to 12 partners. Network members should have the expertise and/or authority to design and implement a community-wide plan. An existing community collaboration may apply if they are willing to take on the early childhood focus.

Required partners in the network are:
  • Superintendent of schools
  • Parent of a young child
  • Head Start or other child care provider
  • Business leader
  • Health care provider
Other suggested community partners include:
  • Center-based, home-based, or family care provider
  • Public nursing, home visiting provider
  • Community service agency leaders
  • School administrators
  • Representatives from community organizations such as libraries
  • Representatives of municipal government
  • Community economic development agency
  • Early intervention services provider
  • Higher education representative
  • Organization that represents underserved populations
3) Community definition. The Local Network should define “community” as the geographic area that makes the most sense to its situation. One option is the School Administrative Unit.

4) Profile Manager. The applicant will identify someone who has primary responsibility to oversee the creation and analysis of the Community Profile. The Profile Manager does not have to be a data expert, but should have interest and skills (such as familiarity with spreadsheets) to take on the task.

5) Action Plan. By the end of the yearlong planning grant period, each community will submit an Action Plan. The plan will serve as the proposal for possible follow-up Implementation Grant funds. Details on components of the Action Plan will be provided to Planning Grant communities early in the grant period.

For additional information related to sample community information to be collected and early childhood strategies, see this link.

Grant Size

The maximum award for an Early Childhood Community Planning Grant is $25,000.

The grant funds are intended primarily to support the time of the people serving two key roles: 1) Network Coordinator and 2) Profile Manager. These two roles may or may not be people from the same organization. Other expenses may relate to meeting costs, travel for network members to shared learning opportunities, and materials.

How to Apply

Use the Online Grant Application to apply. This is accessed from the LOG IN button at the top of the website. The deadline for submission is March 30, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. Applicants will be notified of grant decisions by early May.

Contact

We encourage you to contact Stephanie Eglinton, senior program officer, (207) 412-0837, if you have any questions or would like to discuss your proposal before it is submitted.