What is the BUILD Initiative?

Launched in May 2002, the BUILD Initiative supports state leaders in the development of comprehensive early childhood systems that better prepare young children to thrive and succeed. Offering technical assistance, regional and national learning community meetings, funding and more, we support state leaders' efforts to set policy, offer services and advocate for children from birth to age five.

BUILD was conceived by the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative (ECFC), a consortium of private foundations that recognized that current programs, policies and services for young children and their families often operate in isolation, at cross purposes, or without enough resources to meet critical needs. In response, ECFC created the BUILD Initiative to invest private funds to to foster innovation and stimulate public investments in early learning.

Read more about BUILD.

Read more on early childhood systems building.

How does BUILD work with states?

BUILD States: We provide intensive support for BUILD states, which includes participation in the national Learning Community, national and state evaluation, tailored technical assistance from our team of experts, participation and travel to BUILD’s annual Building Systems conference, access to the initiative’s multi-state topical meetings, communications support, and a portion of BUILD’s staff time. Read more.

Early Learning Challenge States: We help states plan, apply for and implement the Early Learning Challenge Grants. The federally-funded Early Learning Challenge is a a state-level grant competition that encourages states to develop bold and comprehensive plans for raising the quality of early learning programs across America.

Learning Community: Open to all 50 U.S.states and territories, the BUILD Initiative Learning Community provides participants with cutting-edge information, the latest thinking on early childhood policy and advocacy, and a wide variety of events (e.g., topical meetings, webinars, etc.) that bring state leaders, national content experts, federal leaders and funders together to support systemic change. Read more.

Is BUILD a 501(c)3 organization?

The BUILD Initiative is a fiscally-sponsored project of Third Sector New England. As such, BUILD receives the benefits of tax-exempt status through this type of dynamic partnership. TSNE provides back office services such as human resources support and financial filing. This frees our staff to focus on the program aspects of our work: supporting states.

What is BUILD’s mission?

The BUILD Initiative helps each state build a coordinated system of programs, policies and services that responds to the needs of families. This systems approach carefully uses private and public resources to effectively prepare our youngest children for a successful future.

What is BUILD’s theory of change?

There are at least three distinct components to the BUILD Initiative’s theory of change.

  • A wide array of core components is necessary for the development of an effective early learning system.
  • Planning, mobilization and action strategies must be developed and implemented.
  • Build Initiative resources serve as a catalyst for constructing the early learning system, making strategic financial and technical investments to help each state move forward in its own individual way. Read more.

What is a system’s approach?

The BUILD Initiative is focused on early childhood systems, a 21st century approach to improving outcomes for children. We help state leaders focus on all the systems of care that form the early childhood system. That includes giving special attention to quality and the connections between systems.

Systemic change is complex and non-linear and inherently political. And the results can change lives, families and communities. We have seen how systems building improves school readiness of a state’s children, so they are healthy and ready to learn. Systems building can also result in more stable, high-functioning families and substantial return on investment for communities with productive, contributing resident.

The funders who designed and launched the BUILD Initiative viewed systems building – as opposed to program development – as a high-impact place to target their funding.