BUILD’s Mission and History

The BUILD Initiative was launched in May 2002 by the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative (ECFC), a consortium of private foundations.

The collaborative recognized that current programs, policies and services for young children and their families often operated in isolation, at cross-purposes, or without enough resources to meet critical needs. In response, it created the BUILD Initiative to invest private funds to stimulate public investments in early learning. 

A Vibrant Community of Learners

The new initiative brought together teams of early childhood leaders from inside and outside of government from four states – Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Ohio. They met with national BUILD staff and early childhood experts to develop a plan for strategic early childhood systems-building for their states. As our work with these and additional state partners continued, we added a strong evaluation component to measure program effectiveness.

To share the collective knowledge of this community, the BUILD Initiative encouraged other states to become learning partners. They were invited to topical conferences, webinars, and other organizations’ forums.

A New Chapter

Today, the BUILD Initiative works intensively with the District of Columbia and 9 states– Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington. And we continue to grow an active learning community around the United States by engaging dozens of other states in our conferences, webinars, learning tables, and other work.

Many states have been served by BUILD through the Early Learning Challenge Collaborative, (ELCC). The Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge, first announced by the federal government in 2011, is a multiyear, multimillion dollar state-level grant competition. The ELCC, a partnership of the BUILD Initiative and the First Five Years Fund, was created with private foundation funds to help states apply for and then implement their RTT-ELC plans.