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

Early Childhood Matters explores the foundation's new goals 05-08-2010

Setting our agenda on early learning, violence and physical environment

Setting our agenda on early learning, violence and physical environment is the latest edition of the Bernard van Leer Foundation's journal, Early Childhood Matters. A keynote article by programme director Michael Feigelson sets the scene for a collection of articles exploring different aspects of the foundation's new goals, including an update on the Wolfensohn Centre's studies of scaling up early childhood education programmes, an interview with UN special representative on violence against children Marta Santos Pais, and a look at town planning issues in the Netherlands.

Journal article on urban space and belonging 04-08-2010

An article discussing work funded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation appears in the new edition of the European Early Childhood Education Research Journal. "Space and place as a source of belonging and participation in urban environments: considering the role of early childhood education and care settings" was written by Margaret Kernan while she worked as a consultant for the foundation. It pays particular attention to marginalised children and those most at risk of discrimination, and looks as a case study at the projects of Melel Xojobal, one of the foundation’s partners in Mexico.

Foundation offers three research internships 22-06-2010

The Bernard van Leer Foundation is offering three research internships to Masters students and young professionals. The internships will start on 1st September for four months at a minimum of 15 hours per week. Read more

A growing movement for kids in Ciudad Juarez 18-06-2010

Ciudad Juarez has become one of the most violent places in the world over the past one and a half years. There were 2600 homicides in 2009 and 1086 people have died already this year, mostly due to drugs related street violence. The Mexican army has taken up permanent residence in the city. One can only imagine what effects this has on the most vulnerable members of society in Ciudad Juarez, the children. At least 900 children have died in the past 3 years. Over 10,000 have lost parents. Read more

Young Lives research on early transitions in Peru 16-06-2010

Now available to order or download as a pdf, Continuity and respect for diversity: Strengthening early transitions in Peru continues our Studies in Early Childhood Transitions series of working papers reporting on Young Lives, a 15-year longitudinal study of childhood poverty. This paper, by Patricia Ames, Vanessa Rojas and Tamia Portugal, explores the diverse experiences of 28 children from four contrasting communities in Peru as they start school. The authors highlight common problems and propose four ways in which children’s early educational transitions can be enhanced.

Bringing evaluation home 09-06-2010

Last week to a packed audience in Brussels at the European Foundation Week (blog), I had an opportunity to share some thoughts with a hundred or so other foundations on evaluation. Read more

Akwasi Aidoo delivers Van Leer Lecture in Denver 20-05-2010

The 2010 Van Leer Lecture was delivered by Akwasi Aidoo on the subject of “Social Justice and Philanthropy in Africa: Transforming Power Relations and the Balance of Stories", as part of the Council on Foundations' 2010 Annual Conference in Denver last month. Akwasi Aidoo is the founding Executive Director of TrustAfrica, a foundation dedicated to securing democracy and equitable development in Africa. The lecture series is a partnership between the Van Leer Group Foundation and the Council on Foundations. It has been running since 2006 and is designed to highlight thoughtful international perspectives on philanthropy. Previous lecturers were Dr. Shimshon Zelniker of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute (2006); Dr. Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health (2007); Azar Nafisi, Iranian-born author of Reading Lolita in Tehran (2008); and Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch (2009).

Israel partners promote holistic and integrative approach to ECCD 19-05-2010

On 11 May, the four partners of the Bernard van Leer Foundation who work together in Israel as the Musharaka Trust co-organised with the Ministry of Education's pre-primary department a conference in Nazareth on “Early Child Care and Development – The Holistic Integrative Approach". Attended by 150 representatives of various government and civil society organisations, the conference was lauded by foundation programme officer Marc J. Mataheru for enabling exchange and debate between the various stakeholders on a subject relevant to the foundation's new goal of scaling up quality early learning programmes. More information on the conference is available (in Arabic) on and

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