Early Childhood Education Group Completes $1 Million Challenge

The Newark Early Learning Funders Group has announced the completion of a $1 million challenge grant from the Foundation for Newark's Future to expand early education opportunities for children up to the age of three in New Jersey's largest city, where half the children under the age of five live in poverty.

In 2013, the Foundation for Newark's Future, which was created to administer the $100 million gift to the city's public schools from Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and raise $100 million in matching funds, pledged $250,000 in support of efforts to increase access to and improve the quality of early childhood education in the city. The Turrell Fund, the Schumann Fund for New Jersey, and the Nicholson Foundation — members of the Newark Early Learning Funders Group — matched the challenge, for a total commitment of $1 million, which will be used to support high-impact programming, improve parents' access to information, provide early childhood teachers with opportunities for professional growth, and improve early learning centers in the city.

To that end, the Early Learning Funders Group, an affinity group of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, will partner with the Child Care and Resource Referral Agency for Essex County; Programs for Parents, which will design and manage the initiatives; and Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which will lead policy and advocacy efforts to ensure that the investments serve as a model of collaboration and result in positive outcomes for children.

"Early childhood education is key to leveling the playing field for kids growing up in poverty," said Kim McLain, CEO of the Foundation for Newark's Future. "It's inspiring to see so many community members, foundations and other stakeholders motivated to collaborate on behalf of Newark's youngest kids. We are thrilled to have seeded the establishment of the Early Learning Policy Board, which prioritized an often-forgotten community voice, and we are thankful to the Early Learning Funders Group for their unprecedented support."