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Endowments announces $10 million funding for prenatal to age 3 well-being, education initiative

PITTSBURGH, Pa., Jan. 9, 2020 –The Heinz Endowments has announced $10 million in funding over three years to support a prenatal to age 3 well-being initiative, focusing on holistic care and education of young children and support for their families. 

Built on the data-supported premise that the most effective way to support young children is through their families, the funding will support a slate of grants that help ensure all children in the region are equally ready when they reach kindergarten age. Targeted health care services for expectant mothers, in-home visitation of families of newborns, and equitable access to family planning, quality child care and early learning activities are among the initiative’s key components. 

“The Endowments’ commitment to prenatal to age 3 well-being is integral to our vision of a Just Pittsburgh where all have an equitable opportunity to reach their fullest potential,” said Grant Oliphant, President of the Endowments. “Informed by data from recent studies highlighting issues that can disrupt a child’s healthy development, this two-generation approach addresses the needs of both parent and child.” 

Distribution of grants for the initiative has begun, and will continue initially for three years. 

The initiative includes support for service providers, parents and nonprofits to work together in advocating for policy changes that address causes of poor outcomes for children and families. The initiative builds on the Endowments’ nearly two decades of funding for programs that support child and family well-being, holistic education and workforce readiness. 

“Kids show up to kindergarten at age 5, and we expect them all to be ready,” said Michelle Figlar, Vice President of Learning for the Endowments. “But the reality is that access to quality health care and child care, clean air and water, and early learning opportunities can vary greatly from family to family. By working together with both the city and county, we hope to help level that playing field, and prevent the need for future interventions down the line.” 

The Endowments’ three-year commitment supports needs identified by recent Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh education reports and programs, including the city’s second annual report on equity indicators; Pittsburgh Public Schools’ newly announced “Imagine PPS” plan; and a county early learning and out-of-school-time report. Ms. Figlar co-chaired the working group that submitted recommendations to the county. 

The Endowments cite as inspiration new research from economist and Nobel Laureate James Heckman that shows “early high-quality investment results in stronger families and multi-generational outcomes, emerging as an effective way to break the cycle of poverty.” Mr. Heckman’s research finds investment in early learning programs builds the foundation for all future learning, behavior and health, resulting in positive outcomes that include long-term savings due to reduced health care costs, reduced student drop-out rates, and higher IQs that lead to greater future earnings. 

Recently approved grants that cover key prenatal to age 3 areas include:

  • Healthy environment programs – $200,000 to the Allegheny County Health Department to build capacity for health equity as a framework in addressing infant and maternal health mortality, and $250,000 to Women for a Healthy Environment to engage schools and early learning centers to identify and address environmental risks.
  • Multi-generational approach programs - $200,000 to Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania to provide family planning and reproductive health services to uninsured and underinsured women, and $50,000 to NurturePA to support expansion of an innovative mentoring program that assists mothers in recovery and their newborns in leading healthy, addiction-free lives.  
  • Early childhood education - $750,000 to Research for Action to fund a pilot research project that examines disparities in education in Allegheny County; $180,000 to Carnegie Institute for the onsite Pittsburgh Public Schools early learning classroom at the Carnegie Science Center; and $175,000 to Partner 4 Work for early childhood education apprenticeships.
  • Advocacy - $150,000 directed to Women and Girls Foundation to help empower women leaders of tomorrow by connecting young women to the process of government through GirlGov. A portion of the grant will go toward a public education campaign aimed at increasing understanding of the health and well-being advantages of paid family and medical leave.  

“The Endowments’ initiative is built on extensive work and our long-held commitment to prenatal care and early childhood development,” said Mr. Oliphant. “Supporting effective early childhood education and well-being resources that are impactful is not only fiscally wise, but represents a major step towards achieving long-term success and opportunities to thrive for all parents and children.” 


For information contact: 
Scott Roller
The Heinz Endowments
412 338 2619 /