San Diego’s early childhood and philanthropic worlds were rocked this month by the announcement of a generous $13.8 million donation for early childhood education to the San Diego Foundation by Guy Clum. Tucked into the list of initial grant recipients from the new fund was notice of a $150,000 gift to the San Diego Workforce Partnership to help with advocacy and research as the fund builds its grantmaking strategy.
The connection between early childhood and workforce development is shockingly obvious to working parents, who struggle to find and afford good child care so they can support their family and their career with confidence that their babies, toddlers and young children are being loved, nurtured and educated. But the inclusion of the San Diego Workforce Partnership in the list of the Clum Fund’s first grantees was a surprise to many in the community who are unaware of the organization’s emerging focus on family opportunity.
The gift is part of a suite of projects related to early childhood led by the San Diego Workforce Partnership’s Center for Local Income Mobility (CLIMB). In addition to the Clum Fund engagement, CLIMB leads a 2Gen workgroup and facilitates early education initiatives with Vista Unified School District. All projects affiliated with CLIMB are aligned with extensive recent research about the factors that help break the cycle of poverty. Two of the strongest predictors of income mobility are family economic security—which come from steady, livable wage jobs—and positive early childhood experiences when brain architecture is being built.
The Clum Fund’s first grants will add space for dozens of young children in new full-day, high quality child care centers around the county. All three grantee organizations are committed to making their new services available to low income working parents by accepting child care vouchers and other forms of public subsidy. This new capacity will not come close to filling the immense demand for child care in San Diego County, but they will be life-changing for the families who enroll and will serve as models for additional expansion around the county.
The new philanthropic gifts are perfectly timed to coincide with the recent doubling of the federal funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant, which resulted in $10 million more for child care vouchers in San Diego County than last year. The new funding was just allocated to local agencies that administer the child care vouchers (YMCA and Childcare Development Associates). Families who may qualify for child care support should apply for assistance as soon as possible at childcaresandiego.com. Demand for child care support in our region far exceeds the available funding, even at the new levels, and the $10 million is expected to be fully committed to families by early 2019. This dramatic mismatch between family and workforce need for quality child care and the region’s supply will drive the research and advocacy agenda for the Clum Fund.