Children, Families, and Communities

Early Learning

Education doesn’t start in kindergarten. Parents, caregivers, and educators encourage children to learn long before they start school. We help all adults prepare children for a life of learning.

Our Early Learning strategy aims to ensure that all infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are ready for kindergarten by age five.

To do this, the Packard Foundation supports organizations working to improve training and professional development for early childhood educators and caregivers, and provide parents, extended family members, and informal caregivers with the information, coaching, and support they seek to create environments where children can learn, grow, and thrive.

We also partner with California communities to test new approaches to strengthen and unify local early learning systems, and explore ways to scale what works statewide.

And, we support smart policies, services, and programs that help create the best learning environment for California’s young children.

We are working to:

  • Support local, state, and federal policies that ensure kids are able to show up to preschool and kindergarten ready to learn, and educators in every environment are able to connect with and help students learn and develop.
  • Promote educator preparation programs that help teachers talk with parents, improve learning and classroom environments, and help young children grow.
  • Build and improve professional development programs that help child care providers and educators plan for and support children’s learning and development as they grow.
  • Support local, state, and federal policies that guarantee parents can send their children to a first-rate preschool.
  • Connect parents and caregivers with information on how to create quality early learning experiences.
  • Support research and evaluation on practices that best support children’s growth and share the results.

Partner Highlight

Starting Smart and Strong Communities

Starting Smart and Strong is our shared long-term commitment that every child in Fresno, San Jose, and Oakland grows up healthy and ready for kindergarten. The communities are developing and testing solutions that support parents, caregivers, and educators as they prepare children to be healthy and ready for school with self-confidence and a love of learning. The initiative is bringing together public and private supporters to create a local comprehensive early learning network in select California communities, and ultimately scale what works.

Our People

Meera Mani

Vice President, Families and Communities

Deborah Kong

Program Officer

Katherine Beckmann

Program Officer

Katie Harkin

Associate Program Officer

How to Get Support

The Children, Families, and Communities Program is not accepting unsolicited proposals, but welcomes your ideas for funding requests. Before you send a request, please review this page. If your work is aligned with the program strategy and geographic focus, please send your request using the form here.