There are not currently any applications open for special projects.
Current Initiatives and
Built on the federal Project LAUNCH framework (see attached), LAUNCH Together is an initiative designed to improve the social/emotional and mental health outcomes of children and their families through increased service and program availability, changed practice, enhanced community systems, and informed policy and sustainability efforts at both the local and state levels. The initiative focuses on promotion and prevention strategies with a goal of mitigating the need for clinical interventions and treatments for many children at risk of social/emotional delays or issues. The initiative represents a strong partnership of eight Colorado foundations committed to improving mental health outcomes for young children. Currently entering its final year, LAUNCH Together has supported early childhood mental health systems building in four communities: SW Denver, Jefferson County, Chaffee and Fremont County, and Pueblo. For more information, visit the LAUNCH Together website.
Rural Expansion of Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation
The purpose of this initiative is to build the capacity of caregivers in rural communities by providing mental health consultation in classrooms and other early childhood settings in order to set children up for success. Through contracts with ten organizations across the state, the Buell Foundation is supporting over 11 FTE dedicated to providing high quality consultation services. One important goal of the Foundation has been to provide rural communities with the flexibility needed to identify and hire consultant from within their own communities with the expectation that consultants increase their professional capacity through ongoing training and participation on Colorado’s Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health.
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.
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. Funding is provided in the following areas: infrastructure & systems building, workforce & professional development, quality improvement, increasing access to high-quality child care, and other direct services.
Closed Initiatives and
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.