The Heinz Endowments commits $10 Mil in funding — Investing in a child’s well-being from prenatal to age 3 is beneficial

Grant Oliphant

by Courier Newsroom

The New Pittsburgh Courier has learned that The Heinz Endowments has committed $10 million in funding over three years to support a prenatal to age 3 well-being initiative.

“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, in a statement provided to the Courier. “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.”

The funding will support a number of grants that aim to ensure all children in the region are equally ready when they reach kindergarten age. The Endowments said that 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.

Support will also be given to service providers, parents and nonprofits to work in tandem in advocating for policy changes that address causes of poor outcomes for children and families.

“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, in a statement. “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 referred to research from economist and Nobel Laureate James Heckman, in which he found that “early high-quality investment results in stronger families and multi-generational outcomes, emerging as an effective way to break the cycle of poverty.” Heckman’s research also found that investment in early learning programs builds the foundation for all future learning, behavior and health, which result in positive outcomes that include long-term savings due to reduced health-care costs, reduced student dropout rates and higher IQs that lead to greater future earnings.

“The Endowments’ initiative is built on extensive work and our long-held commitment to prenatal care and early childhood development,” Oliphant continued in a statement. “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.”

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.


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