The Bernard van Leer Foundation is an international grantmaking foundation based in The Hague.

Our mission is to improve opportunities for children up to age 8 who are growing up in socially and economically difficult circumstances. We see this both as a valuable end in itself and as a long-term means to promoting more cohesive, considerate and creative societies with equal opportunities and rights for all.

Latest news from the Bernard van Leer Foundation

Bringing Fathers In: Helping global activists to embrace "dad power" 19-11-2014

The Fatherhood Institute and MenCare are launching Bringing Fathers In, a series of practical resources to help health, education and social care professionals, policy makers, programme managers and designers, researchers and evaluators across the world work in ways that build on dads’ vital role in improving children’s outcomes.

The Bringing Fathers In resources, developed with BvLF support, include factsheets on making the most of fathers to support their children’s early learning, support maternal and infant health, and reduce violence in their children’s lives, along with 10 research summaries and evidence-based best practice advice. Read more

BvLF sponsors Dutch kids science programme 'Full Proof' 11-11-2014

From Saturday November 15 a new series of ‘Full Proof’ – a science programme for children, sponsored by the Bernard van Leer Foundation – will be broadcast on Dutch television.

On TV, science is often practised by men in a laboratory wearing white coats. Full Proof is different; it goes outside and lets children themselves explain the experiments. The programme is filmed all over the world because nature's laws are the same for everyone. The location of the episode always has a link with its theme.

The first episode of the new series is about the how the sun hardly goes down at night during summer in Sweden. It will be broadcast on Saturday November 15th at 10:00 on NPO Zapp 3.

Blog - Leverage: Just Another Fancy Word? 27-10-2014

By Michael Feigelson, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 10 October 2014

The president of a foundation in Europe recently shared with me a conversation she had about “strategic philanthropy” where she questioned whether the concept was anything more than the affirmation of common sense dressed in fancy words. The same may turn out to be the case for the notion of “leverage”— a term that I hear increasingly to describe how foundations can achieve the greatest social change. Be that as it may, if we can find ways to increase the impact of philanthropic resources, it merits discussion.

Read the complete article by Michael Feigelson, Interim Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, on Stanford Social Innovation Review.

How Brad Pitt brings out the best in dads 13-10-2014

By Simon Kuper, FT Magazine, 10 October 2014

A few years ago in Riga, Latvia, I noticed something that surprised me: lots of men pushing prams. You’d expect this in Sweden but not so much in the former Soviet Union.

It signalled a trend: the rise of the global father. Around the world, in some very unlikely countries, men are taking a bigger role in childrearing (from a low base). Rather than the end of men, this is their reinvention...

Read the complete article by Simon Kuper - with contribution of the Bernard van Leer Foundation - on 'FT Magazine'.

Saving Brains: 11 new projects to save brains of children in developing countries 08-10-2014

Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Government of Canada, welcomes three new partners to the Saving Brains Grand Challenge: Aga Khan Foundation Canada, Norlien Foundation and World Vision Canada. These organizations strengthen the existing partnership with the Bernard van Leer Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation.

The news coincides with an announcement of more than $2.9 million in funding for 11 new bold ideas aimed at improving the early brain development of infants and children in low-resource countries. Three innovators from Canada and eight innovators from developing countries will each receive $270,000 for projects (detailed below) to be implemented in Brazil, Ethiopia, Grenada, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan.

One of the 11 new ideas is an interactive engagement program, based on SMS messages providing valuable parenting information to new mothers in Brazil via cell phone. Funding for projects in Brazil is the result of a prior agreement between the Maria Cecília Souto Vidigal Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada, with the support of the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Read the complete press release here.
For more information on Saving Brains, please visit their new website.

Documentary about the lives of migrant children in India 24-09-2014

The documentary ‘Migrating Childhood’ about the lives of migrant children at worksites in India, produced by our partner Aide et Action, was released last Monday.

The Bernard van Leer Foundation works with Aide et Action to improve the living conditions of migrant children. The young migrants generally accompany their parents and live in very unhealthy, unfriendly environments like brick kilns and building construction sites, and are excluded from accessing quality child care. This often results in malnourishment, illness and morbidity, which also hampers their psychological, cognitive and physical growth.

The documentary was shot in four cities – Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chennai and Hyderabad. It not only focuses on the plight of the migrants, but has also tried to provide solutions to stop children from being deprived of basic facilities at work places. Watch the documentary:

BvLF supported newspaper supplement on the importance of the early years 06-09-2014

NRC supplementToday the publication ‘Jong geleerd’ (taught early), a 20-page supplement of the Dutch newspaper NRC weekend, is distributed. This supplement, about the importance of investing in the early years, is an initiative of the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Scientific research proves that investing in the development of young children is of great importance; for individuals, but also for our economy and society. However, the attention for the importance and impact of early learning is still very limited in the Netherlands. We hope that this supplement can be of influence in changing this. Sharing knowledge on this topic and increasing opportunities for young children is one of the key objectives of the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Interested in the supplement ‘Jong geleerd’? You can read it here (in Dutch).

The 1st National Award for Projects with Child Participation (Brazil) goes to... 12-08-2014

On August 5th the ceremony for the 1st National Award for Projects with Child Participation (Prêmio Nacional de Projetos com Participação Infantil) was held in Ipanema, Brazil. The first prize winning project is: Escola de Comunicação da Meninada do Sertão (Fundação Casa Grande Memorial do Homem Kariri).

Curious about the other finalists and winners? Check out this link.

The competition, conducted by CECIP (Centro de Criação da Imagem Popular), with support from the Bernard van Leer Foundation, aims to enrich the field and practical discussions around the idea of child participation in Brazil.

Investing in young children makes good business sense 04-08-2014

By Michael Feigelson, Interim Executive Director, 1 August 2014

In 2007 The Lancet medical journal published an article stating that more than 200 million children under five fail to reach their potential in cognitive development because of poverty, poor health and nutrition, and lack of responsive caregiving. This statistic made the rounds in the worlds of public health, education and other segments of society generally focused on the welfare of our youngest citizens. Unfortunately, it did not achieve the same degree of penetration among one of the most powerful global communities --- business leaders. Why?

The more I have spoken with business leaders around the world, the more I have come to believe the answer is related to how we tell the story. Frequently, those of us who spend our days consumed with Lancet articles and the like have committed the all too common mistake of trying to convince others to engage in an issue we love for the same reasons that moved us to action. Instead, we should have been focusing on connecting to the intrinsic motivations that move business leaders everyday. We need to explain why young children are good for business...

Read the complete article by Michael Feigelson in 'The Guardian'.

New video launched by WithoutViolence 04-08-2014

'Violence is preventable' is the message in a new film launched by WithoutViolence. This animated film outlines facts about the impact of violence and gives some examples of the ways in which violence in the lives of children has been effectively reduced around the globe. You can watch the film here:

WithoutViolence is a new field-building pilot project designed to help violence prevention leaders and practitioners communicate solutions and accelerate their impact for improving the lives of boys and girls. WithoutViolence is funded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation. For more information visit:

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