News Update

Women billionaires transform early childhood education through philanthropy

Over the past two years, MacKenzie Scott has shaken up the philanthropic and nonprofit landscape by donating over $12.3 billion in grants to 1,257 organizations. While only 20% of the overall U.S. philanthropic funding is unrestricted, as Forbes reported, 100% of Scott’s grants are unconditional. 

Perhaps most notably, she is reshaping entire sectors, such as early childhood education and care, that have been underfunded for too long. Given the urgency and magnitude of the early childhood education and care crisis, her philanthropy has even more clout, as Forbes suggested.

Even when donor dollars have gone to education, money has tended to go to K-12 or higher education. According to a study by Grantmakers for Education, only 4% of education grant dollars were going to early care and education in 2019. The same applies to education technology funding, with only 6% edtech funding going to early childhood education and care.

A recent report by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Whiteboard Advisors, with a foreword by Priscilla Chan, reports that only 15% of surveyed philanthropic donors in California give to early care and education. Encouragingly, the same report notes that nearly half of donors would be interested in giving more to early care and education. This is good news, as more funding toward a range of diverse solutions is critically needed for little learners and their families to thrive.

Scott is not alone. Connie Ballmer, Jackie Bezos, Susie Buffett, Priscilla Chan, Melinda French Gates, Lisa Mennet, Pam Omidyar, Signe Ostby, Laura Overdeck and Liz Simons are all supporting early childhood education and care. They are pushing the boundaries of philanthropy to transform the face of early childhood education and care,  as Forbes reported.

Most are part of the Giving Pledge, with a commitment to give away a majority of their wealth during their lifetime. They are also all women and mothers, (some are also grandmothers). This is unlikely a coincidence, as Forbes opined. They understand that outsized investments in early childhood education and care can make a huge impact on children, mothers and families.