An Old Foundation with a New Strategy Expands Its Early Childhood Work

An Old Foundation with a New Strategy Expands Its Early Childhood Work

You may not have heard of the family foundation behind a $12.75 million gift to launch an early childhood learning center in Orlando, Florida, but it’s worth taking note. Now entering its 50th year, the Bainum Foundation has recently emerged as a player to watch in the early childhood learning space.

As recently as 2015, the Bainum Foundation’s list of grantees read like a hodgepodge of random causes with likely little more in common than family members’ personal passions and interests. There were gifts to colleges and universities, boys and girls clubs and the local food kitchen.

The foundation reported about $500 million in assets. Its annual giving in 2015 added up to about $16 million, but few gifts topped $1 million.

A big focus was granting scholarships to low-income kids attending faith-based schools or providing direct support to the schools, said Ann Egan, the foundation’s communications director.  The organization’s founders Jane and Stewart Bainum both attended Seventh Day Adventist schools and wanted to support others who wanted to do the same.

However, around 2015, the foundation started to shift its focus in a more strategic direction. Since then, it’s emerged as a generous backer of early childhood education, with much of its work focusing on the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.; the foundation is based in neighboring Bethesda, Maryland. The foundation also focuses on mental health in schools and food security.

In 2017 alone, the foundation spent nearly $9 million on increasing the number of high-quality childcare seats in D.C.’s low-income neighborhoods and bringing mental health services to public high schools.

Now, Bainum has pledged $12.75 million to create about 150 new childcare spots for infants and toddlers in Orlando, Florida. About $5 million will support construction and $7.5 million will fund general operations when the center opens in 2019. The funder will also assist on designs, operations, governance and evaluation.

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Source: Inside Philanthropy


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