The Bernard van Leer Foundation is a private grant-making foundation. 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 promote more cohesive, considerate and creative societies with equal opportunities and rights for all. 

Latest news from the Bernard van Leer Foundation

Prison through the eyes of a child 08-05-2013

By Lisa Jordan, Executive Director, 8 May 2013

Born in Poland, living in England, Sarah was six years old when she went on holiday to France with her mother and her mother’s new boyfriend. The police stopped their car for a routine traffic violation. The boyfriend fled. Sarah’s mother stayed with Sarah in the car. Drugs were found.

The police took Sarah’s mother away; she is now serving a multiyear sentence in a French prison. Sarah, who didn’t speak any French, was placed with a French foster family. It is hard to imagine what a trauma it must have been for her: one moment enjoying the excitement of a holiday, the next moment watching as her mother was led away by men whose words she couldn’t understand. She didn’t see her mother again for months.

Sarah is one of an estimated 800,000 children of prisoners growing up in Europe today. She committed no crime, yet she is surely serving a sentence. Read more

Sad news from Peru: a child counts 08-05-2013

Sad news reaches us from Rio Itaya in Belen, Iquitos, Peru, where last Monday a 3-year-old boy drowned in one of the communities where our partners Niños de la comunidad (Children from the community) and INFANT have been implementing an initiative called "NN al Rescate" (Children to the rescue).

This was the first fatality from drowning since the project started, in October 2011. Until then, around five to ten young children commonly drowned in the communities each year, when the rainy season makes the river flow dangerously fast. Read more.

LEGO and the World Economic Forum in Peru 26-04-2013

"Communities in Peru are taking a leadership role on this issue, both preventing violence and embracing playful learning as a critical piece of young children's development. We hope to shine some light on their efforts so that more global leaders engage in supporting our youngest citizens."

During the World Economic Forum conference in Lima, Bernard Van Leer Foundation, LEGO Foundation help children of Community-Conibo in Cantagallo envision their perfect neighborhood of their dreams using LEGO.


The Business of Play 25-04-2013

At the World Economic Forum conference in Lima, a group of Peruvian kids and their adult allies will make a case for why a childhood free from violence and filled with playful learning is the key to the kind of innovation that can drive economic prosperity in this century.

Read the full blog post on Huffpost.

Building a Legal Framework for Public Policies on Early Childhood 23-04-2013

Speech given by Lisa Jordan – Executive Director Bernard van Leer Foundation – on April 16th 2013 in Brazil at the opening of The First International Seminar of the Parliamentary Front for Early Childhood on Building a Legal Framework for Public Policies on Early Childhood.

Read the entire speech we have posted on our blog.

Why quality Early Childhood Services for all? 15-04-2013

Watch this video to see the results of the first Transatlantic Forum on Inclusive Early Years (held in January 2013 in Ghent), supported by the Bernard van Leer Foundation. The next Forum will be held in New York City, from July 10th – 12th, 2013.

Press Release - Drastic Cuts to Basic Education Put Children around the World at Risk 15-04-2013

U.S. Administration Proposes Deep Cuts to Basic Education

In response to the President's proposed deep cuts to global basic education in his recent FY14 budget request, share this press release and support the Basic Education Coalition's advocacy efforts to ensure sufficient U.S. resources for vital basic education programs.

Please contact Ariel Gleicher, Acting Director of Government Relations, at, or 202-742-1211. Thanks for your support!

Board of Trustees member wins Compass Prize 10-04-2013

Dr Rien van Gendt, member of the Board of Trustees of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, is the proud winner of the Compass Prize. Only awarded in exceptional circumstances to the true pioneers and visionaries of European philanthropy, the Compass Prize is awarded by the EFC Management Committee and recognises outstanding contributions to the European foundation sector. The prize will be awarded during the Closing Plenary of the 2013 AGA and Conference in Copenhagen.

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