Initiatives & Special Projects

Current Initiatives & Special Projects

Local Financing for Early Childhood Education

The Buell Foundation recognizes that additional, ongoing funding is necessary to support the needs of children, families, and caregivers. As part of this strategy, we are interested in supporting local efforts to bring new, public revenue into the system. In early 2024, the Buell Foundation has released Supporting Families, Children, and the Caregiving Workforce: A Local Financing Toolkit for Colorado to support communities as they work through the process of securing additional revenue. In alignment with the toolkit, an open funding opportunity is available to support communities who are actively engaged in efforts to raise revenue locally. This funding opportunity is open to invited applicants only. For more details about the opportunity, click here.

Links to recorded webinars related to this funding opportunity are available here:

Early Childhood Councils

The Buell Foundation values the early childhood councils. By sustaining a network of local, community-driven entities, it is possible to disseminate programming and best practices throughout the state as well as to gather diverse perspectives from Colorado’s many regions. This is the only formalized network that exists in Colorado that crosses all domains and is charged with facilitating development of a coordinated system that supports children by influencing their relationships, environments and communities. In addition, the Buell Foundation supports efforts to improve the access, quality and equity of the three early childhood domains as detailed in the Early Childhood Colorado Framework. As a unique network, the councils are an important lever for systemic change that impacts families with children ages zero to five, and it is imperative that councils function at a high level.

The Buell Foundation currently invests more than $2 million per year in the early childhood councils across the state, supporting their infrastructure and systems building, as well as the direct services they provide.

To learn more about the history and impact of Colorado’s Early Childhood Councils, please read Boots on the Ground: Advancing the Shared Vision for Colorado’s Children.

Family Child Care Home Facility Improvement

The majority of Colorado children are cared for in home environments, and the number of licensed home environments is declining.  The purpose of the Buell Foundation’s Family Child Care Home Facility Improvement Initiative is to help Colorado families find quality care options for their children.  The Foundation does this by helping home providers overcome one of their biggest barriers – the facility improvements needed to maintain or get their state child care license.  The goal is to fund existing providers to make facility improvements that would allow them to stay in business or grow their business while improving the health, safety and quality of the early learning environments for children ages zero to five. An additional goal is to foster additional licensed capacity in local communities through small grants that would allow new providers to become licensed.  The initiative is managed by the Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance, which provides grants to home providers for permanent facility improvements.  Information about how to access these funds can be found here.

Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce

This multi-year initiative is a partnership between the Buell Foundation and the Piton Foundation at Gary Community Investment that explores potential solutions for the early childhood workforce challenges that exist in Colorado.  Through funding innovative projects, this initiative provides the capital needed to develop and test ideas with the potential to improve recruitment, retention and/or compensation of the workforce.  The initiative was designed with an emphasis on data-informed, sustainable, systems-improvement efforts that address specific community challenges with an eye to finding local approaches that could successfully be duplicated or expanded to a much larger scale.  Projects selected for funding represented a range of potential solutions as well as intentional geographic diversity. For more information, visit the initiative’s website.

Closed Initiatives &
Special Projects

District-Based School Transitions Initiative

The purpose of the Buell Foundation’s District-Based School Transitions Initiative is to support school districts and/or charter schools in effectively bridging the gap that often exists between preschool and kindergarten while maximizing the work already happening in both local and state government impacting school readiness. Planning grants were awarded to five districts in 2014.  Through a facilitated process, all districts completed an analysis of current practices and gaps, developed goals, and created a plan for action.  In 2015, three of the original five districts were awarded implementation grants.  Over the course of two years, these districts will work to first implement the strategies identified in their action plans and then to institutionalize change in an effort to encourage sustainability of efforts.

Rural Colorado Playground Project

Playgrounds provide an environment that supports the gross motor development of young children and also encourages play, curiosity, community, and the ability to navigate social dynamics. The rural parts of the state experience a lack of resources more profoundly than urban communities.  In response to this need, in 2015 the Buell Foundation provided $876,628 to 27 organizations in rural Colorado to improve outdoor play spaces for children.