Bernard van Leer Foundation

The Bernard van Leer Foundation funds and shares knowledge about work in early childhood development and child rights.
About the work we fund
We work primarily by supporting programmes implemented by partners in the field. These include public, private and community-based organisations. Our strategy of working through partnerships is intended to build local capacity, promote innovation and flexibility, and help to ensure that the work we fund is culturally and contextually appropriate.

We currently support about 140 major projects. We focus our grantmaking on 21 countries in which we have built up experience over the years. These include both developing and industrialised countries and represent a geographical range that encompasses Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

We work in three issue areas:

Through “Strengthening the care environment” we aim to build the capacity of vulnerable parents, families and communities to care for their children.
Through “Successful transitions” we aim to help young children make the transition from their home environment to daycare, preschool and school.
Through “Social inclusion and respect for diversity” we aim to promote equal opportunities and skills that will help children to live in diverse societies.
Also central to our work is the ongoing effort to document and analyse the projects we support, with the twin aims of learning lessons for our future grantmaking activities and generating knowledge we can share. Through our evidence-based advocacy and publications, we aim to inform and influence policy and practice both in the countries where we operate and beyond.

About the foundation

We very rarely consider unsolicited proposals. The vast majority of our new projects are undertaken with organisations we ourselves have identified through our existing partners and work in the field.

Because we very rarely consider unsolicited proposals, we do not have specific grant guidelines or application forms. If you would like to apply for funding, please read about the foundation and the work we fund and consider carefully whether your project is a good fit for us.

Please note that we do not provide grants for the following:

applications for support to individual children
projects that concentrate solely on one aspect of children's development or learning, such as health care or special educational needs
proposals for the construction and maintenance of buildings, or the purchase of equipment and materials
requests for scholarships, conferences, media or theatre events
general organisational support or requests to cover recurrent costs or deficits
Please note also that we do not consider proposals for any country which is not on the list of eligible countries, as determined periodically by meetings of the foundation's board of trustees. NB: the list of countries in which we have current projects is not the same as the list of countries eligible for future grants.

Eligible countries for future grants currently are Brazil, Colombia, the East Caribbean region, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, United States of America and Zimbabwe. We will not consider your application if it has nothing to do with any of these countries. The foundation has no plans to expand the list of eligible countries.

If you would like to enquire about funding for a project, please do not prepare a detailed submission - instead email a brief outline of your organisation and proposal to or use the form on the contact page. Please do not contact us by telephone; we will contact you if we require further information.

In your email, please state which of our eligible countries you will work in, and explain why you think you are a good fit for BvLF support, with reference to our programme areas and existing work. We will always reply to applicants who have taken the trouble to personalise their enquiry to us. We regret that we cannot guarantee to reply to standardised appeals for funds.