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Casa Central
Children’s Home & Aid
Korean American Community Services Illinois
Lutheran Social Services Illinois

Metropolitan Family Services
Northwestern University Settlement
St. Vincent DePaul Center
SGA Youth and Family Services
Chicago Commons
Christopher House
Gads Hill Center
Project HOPE, Inc.
Through a Child’s Eyes


Now in its 11th year, EQUIP remains committed to promoting high quality early childhood programming for underserved children. We want to ensure that, regardless of the specific focus topic, all EQUIP projects should promote the over-all well-being of children by encouraging a love of learning and healthy physical and mental development.

Bright Promises Foundation Receives $1.3 Million Grant from Pritzker Early Childhood Foundation for EQUIP

On November 3, 2014, Pritzker Early Childhood Foundation President Gigi Pritzker announced that that foundation was awarding a $1.3 million grant to Bright Promises Foundation for the EQUIP program. Upon awarding the grant, Pritzker said, “We have been so impressed by Bright Promises’ stewardship of the program. It is our intention that this grant will ensure that, for years to come, many early childhood centers will receive the resources they need to improve care and education for young children.”

The EQUIP program has helped nearly 75 childcare centers in its ten years of grantmaking and has touched thousands of Illinois children. This year alone, over 1,000 children will benefit.


EQUIP Early Childhood Quality Improvement Program is a small grants program that addresses the need for high quality early education, specifically in early childhood centers serving a mostly low-income population. With our grants, early childhood centers focus on one area in need of improvement and hire an external consultant, an expert in that area, to work with the staff and families to create long-lasting, sustainable quality improvement. Our philosophy is that it can take up to two years to create sustainable change to occur; therefore, centers can receive up to two years of funding. Applicants must demonstrate tangible strategies to ensure that lessons learned and changes resulting from the project become engrained in the daily happenings at the center. Additionally, applicants must now demonstrate that projects include: 1) teaching methods that involve hands-on activities and play, 2) a parent/caregiver-engagement component, 3) strategies that address children’s individual strengths and natural curiosity and 4) specific strategies for accomplishing educational and developmental goals. After the grant period is over, our hope is that the focus issue that was once a weakness becomes a strength that can be celebrated and that EQUIP grantees will be able to serve as models of best practice in their topic of focus.

The quality improvement need is chosen by applicant agencies and may be representative of (1) a new program or program aspect that agencies wish to implement; (2) an area of weakness identified during a self-study or accreditation process; or (3) a challenge that the agency has struggled with over time. Examples of EQUIP projects are (but not limited to): social/emotional development and positive behavior management; assessing developmental milestones; engaging parents; positive transitions to Kindergarten and beyond; understanding of special needs or mental health; intentional use of science or the arts; or improvement in pre-literacy and math education if projects are focused on hands-on, play-based and age-appropriate learning. Consultants are also chosen by applicant organizations.

EQUIP is a collaborative funding program of the following foundations: Bright Promises Foundation, Leo S. Guthman Fund, Prince Charitable Trusts, Pritzker Early Childhood Foundation and an anonymous partner.


EQUIP grants can only be awarded to IRS-designated 501(c)3 nonprofit agencies. Grant recipients must have center-based early childhood sites in Cook County, IL that serve children between the ages of 0-4. Sites must be licensed and serve a population that is more than 50% low-income. Although some of the grant funds may be used to purchase materials or supplies that support EQUIP projects or meeting costs, at least 75% of the grant must be used to pay an external consultant to direct the project; the consultant cannot be a paid member of the grantee organization’s staff or a long-time volunteer or board member. Organizations with multiple sites may apply a single EQUIP grant/project to up to 3 sites and can apply for two grants during the same grant period, but grants must focus of two separate projects and be applied to different geographic locations. Grants are generally not given to schools within a public school district.


2015 EQUIP Guidelines

If you will be applying for a first-year grant, you may download an application here: Application

If you are a current grantee and would like to apply for a renewal grant, click here: Renewal Application

Please read the guidelines carefully as there are changes from previous years. If you are interested in the grant program or have any questions, please contact Lauren Krieg, EQUIP Director, at (312) 641-5765 or

Proposals are due by June 5 and grants for 2015 will be announced in July. The grant period begins in August.



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