Start Early Funders Coalition

The Start Early Funders Coalition for Children and Minnesota’s Future is a collaboration of more than 20 members of Minnesota’s philanthropic community. The Coalition provides critical leadership and funding for research, program development, public policy and grant making to improve early childhood efforts in Minnesota. We are working together to ensure every child in Minnesota is physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively prepared for school and lifelong success.


Our Mission

To leverage our unique perspective as early childhood funders to advance public policy and community support for affordable, accessible, high quality care and education in Minnesota so that all children have a strong and healthy start and are prepared to contribute to our state’s vitality.


Focus Areas

  1. Public Policy – Advocating for enhanced leadership, accountability and funding to support a stronger, more effective early childhood care and education system in Minnesota.
  2. Learning and Research – Facilitating research, best practices and sharing of knowledge to strengthen our individual and collective efforts to enhance the well-being of Minnesota children and families with a focus on the whole child.

Our Unique Perspective

  • The voice of Minnesota’s philanthropic community
  • Statewide leadership on early childhood issues
  • A credible and unique perspective as funders
  • A commitment to shared learning
  • Dedication to capacity building
  • A long-term comprehensive vision for children and our state

Our Commitment to Racial Equity and Systems Change

As a coalition made up of philanthropic partners across the state of Minnesota, Start Early Funders Coalition is focused on ensuring that every child has a strong and healthy start. We stand in agreement with the commitment statement released by the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative. Start Early Funders Coalition is “committed to improving the wellbeing of our children and their families and being a catalyst to solve social problems. Racism is more than a pernicious social problem that impacts children’s early years and their families and communities — it is a root cause problem driving other social disparities. We cannot ignore it and we recommit to naming and centering racial equity in our analyses and investments. We commit as individuals and as philanthropic partners to ensure that Black children and other children of color have a chance at a fair
and just life.” (Early Childhood Funders Collaborative June 2020)
Additionally, we acknowledge that we are indebted to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and their “families on whose backs we’ve built our economy – especially through their care of the country’s children for no pay or poverty wages. We are committed to being a catalyst for change in ensuring that a child’s race or zip code do not determine their school success, but most importantly the value of their ability to breathe and live.” (Early Childhood Funders Collaborative June 2020)

The Start Early Funders Coalition is a collaboration of members of Minnesota’s philanthropic community. The coalition provides critical leadership and funding for research, program development, public policy and grant making to improve early childhood efforts in Minnesota. We are working together to ensure every child in Minnesota is physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively prepared for school and lifelong success. Our Mission is: To leverage our unique perspective as early childhood funders to advance public policy and community support for affordable, accessible, high quality care and education in Minnesota so that all children have a strong and healthy start and are prepared to contribute to our state’s vitality. Additionally, our strategic plan reflects that as a coalition we are committed to equitable and sustainable systems change that will ensure all BIPOC children have access to high quality early care and education that is trauma-informed, culturally responsive and developmentally appropriate.

The Start Early Funders Coalition is committed to measures of accountability and action:

  • We are informed by the truth that disparities defined by race, place and income must be disrupted using an equity lens and holistic approaches.
  • We engage in strategic relationships and partnerships with community members, coalitions, state agencies and representatives to address policies and practices that cause inequitable disparities.
  • We will build awareness and advocate for high quality early learning opportunities, by improving the Early Childhood Care and Education Workforce with diversity, equity and inclusion as the golden thread.
  • We aim to deepen our commitment to elevating the direct role of parents and providers – specifically our commitment to amplifying, listening to and valuing parents’ and providers’ voices, expertise and perspectives as the primary informers of our work.
  • We are intentionally and meaningfully engaging with diverse parents and providers to identify how we will move from what families need to policies that eliminate disparities.
  • We will use a racial equity lens on all public policy we endorse – we prioritize policies that will benefit black, indigenous and other children of color, their families and the programs that serve them.

Start Early Funders Coalition member organizations


northwest mn foundation       logo-st-paul-foundation        IFN-logo-type-RGB     Delta-Dental  blandin

bigelow_logo    UW-Twin-Cities   UW - M


History of Start Early

Start Early Funders Coalition for Children and Minnesota’s Future was formed in 2011 as the result of a merger between the School Readiness Funders Coalition and the Early Childhood Funders Network. The merged coalition builds on the strengths and successes of the two previous coalitions as a stronger, more effective voice for early childhood in support of critical reform recommendations.