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Robin Hood Foundation Awards Literacy Inc. 'FUEL for 50' to Support Early Childhood Development

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

Cohort of 50 Wide-Ranging Nonprofits Selected for First Phase of $10M Initiative to Support Early Childhood

NEW YORK, NY, March 8, 2022 – Robin Hood, New York’s largest poverty-fighting philanthropy, today

announced the initial winners of FUEL for 50, its new initiative to support young children’s learning and

development through programs focused on their caregivers. These 50 awards—the first phase of a

3-year initiative—are Robin Hood’s latest investments in a six-year commitment to make New York City a

model for cultivating and scaling new approaches to supporting the development of children ages 0-3.

Representing all five boroughs of New York City and missions ranging from mental health and job training

to immigration and legal services, the 50 awardee nonprofits were selected from a pool of 355 programs

supporting parents and caregivers of young children. Each will receive $25,000 in unrestricted funding,

access to expert workshops and support, and opportunities for up to $1 million in funding over the next

two years.

“By uplifting organizations that support parents and caregivers of children 0-3, we are shifting the

narrative around what it means to support early childhood development, while getting one step closer to

making New York City an early learning metropolis where every aspect of our society recognizes and

promotes the development of our youngest members,” said Dr. Kelvin Chan, Managing Director of Early

Childhood at Robin Hood. “In designing FUEL for 50, it was critical that we structured the initiative

toward a holistic, family-centered approach to early childhood and engage programs beyond what we

think of as ‘traditional’ child development work.”

Robin Hood launched FUEL for 50 with an open call for applications in August 2021, working with the

public library systems and direct outreach to help spread the word in neighborhoods throughout New

York City. By November, they received more than 350 applications, most of them from organizations not

explicitly focused on early childhood. Robin Hood structured all aspects of the initiative to elevate

community-informed approaches, and the 50 awardees were selected with support from a committee of

local parents, nonprofit leaders, and early childhood researchers and educators.

implementation of FUEL for 50, including data and insights gleaned from the pool of 355 applicant

organizations. Despite the non-traditional aspects of the initiative, Robin Hood found community

organizations of all sizes and mission areas working on creative ways to support parents and caregivers

of young children. Caregiver stress was a predominant theme, with more than 80% of programs focused

on reducing sources of stress and 40% of applications citing mental health support. FUEL for 50

applicants also overwhelmingly cited community knowledge, experience, and trust as tentpoles in their

program design and approaches, uplifting the value for lived experience.

“With FUEL for 50, Robin Hood was extremely deliberate in designing and implementing an initiative that

would truly celebrate all facets of early childhood work. Rather than continuing to fund programs that

were already on their radar, the FUEL for 50 team took the time to go beyond surface consultation with

community-based organizations and New York City parents by directly involving organization and

community representatives in the grantee selection process itself, reconfiguring how funding flows into

historically marginalized communities,” said Kassa Belay, Co-Director, United for Brownsville and a

member of the FUEL for 50 selection committee. “Through United for Brownsville, I’ve seen the power of

Robin Hood’s investment to catalyze critical change in my community, so it was an honor to partner with

FUEL for 50’s selection committee to identify and award other organizations creating impact across the

five boroughs.”

Along with unrestricted funding, the 50 awardee organizations are invited to participate in a series of

optional workshops with experts in child development and nonprofit management. In November 2022,

FUEL will award up to 10 of the selected organizations $250,000 in additional funding to test the efficacy

of their programs, and – in 2023 – up to three awardees will receive an additional $1 million to scale

their efforts.

FUEL for 50 was born out of Robin Hood’s Fund for Early Learning (FUEL), which launched in 2016 with a

mandate to help transform New York City into an “early learning metropolis” by focusing on children

three-and-under living below the poverty line. To date, FUEL has partnered with New York City agencies

that support young children, advanced new research, and committed $50 million in investments to

partner organizations. To learn more about FUEL for 50, visit

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