Early Care Spaces - Kenneth Rainin Foundation

Early Care Spaces

Early Care Spaces supports organizations promoting early language and literacy development for Oakland children from birth to five years old.

An early education classroom where two adults are on a playmat with two young children. One adult is high-fiving one of the children.
We focus on early childhood education because these years make a big difference in a child’s life. Photo credit: Stephanie Secrest / Lotus Bloom

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation believes every Oakland child should have the literacy skills to communicate, learnand thrive. Research suggests that the opportunity to help children grow and improve literacy is greatest from early care through second grade.

Early Care Spaces is an open application grant program that provides grants of up to $100,000 to support organizations promoting early language and literacy development for Oakland children from birth to five years old.

Early Care Spaces aims to advance work that focuses on:

  • Supporting children to expand their vocabulary and comprehension skills and increase confidence in listening and speaking. 
  • Opportunities that recognize parents and caregivers as leaders in their children’s education and increase their capacity to support early literacy.  
  • Career advancement and upskilling for Black early care providers to lead language-rich, developmentally appropriate and culturally affirming care. 

This grant program prioritizes:

  • Early care provided outside of traditional education systems, including family resource centers and community spaces. While traditional systems (i.e. public and private preschools or Head Start programs) do not qualify for this opportunity, organizations that partner with them are welcome to apply. 
  • Programs with deep connections to informal care providers or Family, Friend and Neighbor care. 
  • Diverse organizations and providers that reflect the neighborhood and communities they serve. 
  • Work happening in the Oakland flatlands, especially neighborhoods experiencing disinvestment and the displacement of BIPOC communities. 

How To Apply

Eligibility Requirements

We accept applications from organizations that meet the following criteria.

  • Grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations or 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsors.
  • All fiscal sponsorships require a written agreement.
  • Organizations must provide services for Oakland children, educators or families. While an organization can operate and provide services outside of Oakland, our funding can only go towards its Oakland-based programming.

The Foundation does not fund:

  • Initiatives or programs designed for children ages 6+.
  • Capital campaign requests.
  • Sports, athletic events or league sponsorship.
  • Advertising or promotional sponsorship.
  • Fraternal organizations.
  • Organizations that discriminate based on religion, race, sexual orientation or gender.

For current Rainin Foundation Education grantees:
Current grantees must complete previously funded projects before applying for an additional grant, unless your previous grant is unrestricted. If your project is complete but you haven’t submitted your grant report, it must be submitted by the application deadline.

Grant Requirements

Grant and request amounts: Applicants can request up to $100,000. The grant amount requested may not exceed more than 30% of the organization’s last closed fiscal year budget, and should reflect project scope, organization size and true cost of services.

Grant period: Project activities must take place within:

  • January 1, 2025-December 31, 2026, for grantees who choose a 12-month grant period.
  • January 1, 2025-December 31, 2027, for grantees who choose a 24-month grant period.

Application Process

Applying for an Early Care Spaces Grant is a two-stage process.

  1. Stage One: Applications are submitted to share brief organization and project information. These will be accepted online from July 29 through August 19, 2024, at 11:59 PM (PST). Preview the application content. Applications will be reviewed by the Foundation’s Education Program Team.
  2. Stage Two: Selected applicants will be notified by September 9 and invited to submit a full proposal by Monday, September 30, 2024 at 11:59 PM (PST). If needed, application technical assistance will be provided to organizations with annual budgets under $1 million.

We use GivingData, an online grants management system. All materials must be submitted on GivingData during the application period. If you are planning to copy and paste your information into our online system, please note the word count limits, as the system will not allow additional text beyond the set restrictions.
Early Care Spaces grants are not eligible for renewal, but organizations will have the opportunity to apply for future funding through our open cycle.

Financial Requirements: Project budgets will be required from all applicants. However, we will only request applicant financial statements (such as profit and loss statements and balance sheets) from applicants we are recommending for Stage Two Full Proposals.

Important Application Dates

  • Pre-Application Webinar: Tuesday, July 9, 9-10 AM (PST). Reserve your spot.
  • Office Hours: July 22-July 26, 2024. Book your 30-minute slot.
  • Stage One Application: July 29-August 19 at 11:59 PM (PST)
  • Stage Two Full Proposal (by invitation only): September 9-30 at 11:59 PM (PST)
  • Award Notification: November 10, 2024
  • Grant Period:
    • January 1, 2025-December 31, 2026, for a one-year grant
    • January 1, 2025-December 31, 2027, for a two-year grant


We encourage you to review the eligibility information above and read our frequently asked questions for more information. If you have additional questions, contact our Education Program Staff.