Early Childhood Education Pilot Program

Posted by Education First on March 12, 2018

Early Learning Fund offers grant for ECE pilot project

Children’s experiences in their earliest years matter: Studies show that high-quality preschool experiences can have significant positive effects on students’ academic and “non-academic” outcomes (e.g. executive function), with particularly strong effects for students from low-income families (Heckman, Pinto & Savelyev, 2012; Weiland & Yoshikawa, 2012).

Though there is evidence to suggest that strong curriculum and instruction supports are critical, researchers have surfaced significant gaps in early childhood with regard to both of these areas. While there is a general consensus among researchers about the importance of strong curricula and high-quality teacher-student interactions, research suggests that preschool curriculum quality varies widely as does the quality of instruction. The choice of curriculum matters and not all curricula are equal.

The Philadelphia Early Learning Fund will offer a new grantmaking opportunity focused on providing high-quality, evidence-based curricula to a small pilot of 8-10 early childhood education centers in the City of Philadelphia. In the future, this fund has the potential to improve outcomes of early childhood programs, and identify opportunities to spread evidence-based curricula and curricular supports, such as staff training, beyond the pilot group and track progress to achieve better outcomes for children in Philadelphia.

The fund is managed by Education First and its creation has been informed by dozens of early childhood education practitioners and other experts working in Philadelphia. Support to grantees will be in the form of financial grants coupled with technical assistance with planning and reporting, as needed. As grantees work towards similar outcomes, they also will be encouraged to share lessons and advice with other grantees, where such coordination is helpful.

Application Instructions

Eligible applicants may only submit an application using the online application. All applications are due no later than 11:59 PM ET on March 16, 2018. Education First may contact you for a follow-up interview if we need more information. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and applicants are highly encouraged to submit their applications in advance of the deadline. Email PELF@education-first.com any questions and include your email address and name.


A virtual information session was scheduled for Monday, February 26 at 3:00 – 4:00 PM ET. Interested applicants can see the recording of the webinar by clicking on this link.


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