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

Using New Technology to Give Voice to the Voiceless 02-05-2014

Read this blog from Robert Muggah (Igarapé Institute) for The Huffington Post, about the Child Security Index (CSI): a new smartphone-based app to identify and help prevent violence against children in Brazil.

Simply by virtue of where they live, roughly 1.5 billion people are dangerously at risk of becoming a victim of violence this year. Families living in countries, cities and towns torn apart by war and criminal violence are particularly vulnerable. While lethal violence is always traumatic, the intentional killing of children is depraved. Yet more than 75,000 young people die violently each year due to the direct and indirect consequences of armed violence, most of them outside of conflict zones. Not surprisingly, some societies are more affected than others. Brazil -- host to the World Cup next month -- could be considered one of the world's most violent. The nation's homicide rate is classified as well above "epidemic" using World Health Organization standards. Roughly 50,000 are violently killed each year, with at least half of these preventable deaths consisting of adolescents and children. Read more...

The CSI (funded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation) is a finalist for the Google Social Impact Challenge. To help give voice to the voiceless, please vote before May 8 2014.

BvLF announces leadership change 24-04-2014

Today Lisa Jordan, Executive Director, announced her resignation from the Bernard van Leer Foundation. Speaking to staff, Ms. Jordan articulated that her original mandate to position the foundation for greater impact has been fulfilled and that while no time is good for a leadership change, the foundation is in a very strong position. Ms. Jordan will be pursuing a next step in her career.

Jacqueline Tammenoms-Bakker, Chairperson of the Van Leer Group Foundation, announced that Michael Feigelson, currently Program Director, will become interim Executive Director as of July 26th, 2014. She noted "The Board of Directors is excited to welcome Michael Feigelson into this position." Ms. Tammenoms-Bakker thanked Ms. Jordan for her outstanding contribution and reaffirmed the Board’s commitment to the current strategy.

Re-imagining Learning and Play 11-04-2014

By Lisa Jordan, Executive Director, 11 April 2014

Over the past two days I have had the pleasure of re-imagining learning and play — with a group of 250 school teachers, digital designers, and play advocates brought together by the LEGO foundation. Read more.

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In Memory of Peter Bell 07-04-2014

By Lisa Jordan, Executive Director, 7 April 2014

This weekend the universe shifted to make way for Peter Bell’s soul.

Peter served as a member of Bernard van Leer Foundation’s Board of Trustees for over a decade, ending his service just last June. We were so lucky! Peter brought commitment to the mission, wisdom to our deliberations and a moral clarity on all issues big and small. I personally will not only always remember him for this clarity, but will continually strive to exemplify it in my own life. Peter served young children through BvLF which was just one stop in a career of service oriented toward the greater good, from the youngest citizen to the eldest. Peter was a person who when he saw a good fight, got in it.

When I was first asked to join Bernard van Leer, Peter was part of the selection committee. He was a mentor to a number of people in senior positions at the Ford Foundation, all to whom I reported. I made the usual queries amongst my bosses and the stories came pouring out: how Peter had stood up to the CIA and saved a number of lives in Latin America while he served through a period of dirty wars; how Peter had forced the hand of the Reagan appointed neo conservatives at the Inter-American Foundation while he served there; how Peter had grown CARE; how Peter put principle before politics. Each story was larger than the last. Read more...

A great loss 07-04-2014

With deep sadness we announce the passing of Peter Bell, former chair of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, and board member of the Van Leer Group Foundation, a great and inspiring person.

New video Humara Bachpan campaign in India 07-04-2014

Watch this animated video of our Humara Bachpan campaign in India - a national campaign focused on ensuring safe and healthy environments for young children living in urban poverty:

Visit the campaign-page for more information about the Humara Bachpan campaign.

The Forum on Investing in Young Children Globally 31-03-2014

The IOM/NRC Board on Children, Youth, and Families, in collaboration with the IOM's Board on Global Health, has established the Forum on Investing in Young Children Globally to engage in dialogue and discussion to connect the best science on how to support children's growth and development, including two-generation approaches, with practices and policies on the ground around the world. Forum activities will highlight the science and economics of integrated investments in young children living in low resourced regions of the world across the areas of health, nutrition, education, and social protection. Moreover, since women and girls are generally the main caregivers of young children globally and are key to children's access to health, education, nutrition and social protection, Forum activities and topics will address issues related to empowerment of women, such as reproductive health, economic opportunity, and access to quality child care and education programs.

'We have to start with good health of adolescent girls and prenatal care and continue through the early years.' - Joan Lombardi, Sr. Advisor, Bernard van Leer Foundation

Watch the video about the importance of investing in Young Children:


'Strong Foundations for 21st Century Skills? Start Early', Lisa Jordan's New Blog for The Huffington Post 18-03-2014

Read Lisa Jordan's new Blog for The Huffington Post

Even with youth unemployment at high levels, business leaders complain that they cannot find graduates with the right skills for the modern workplace. A new report from McKinsey published this month found that although almost a quarter of the young people across the European Union are unemployed, only 40 percent of employers feel confident that they can find enough skilled graduates to fill entry-level positions. A recent study of employers by the US-based Business Roundtable found that most employers in the US also struggle to recruit employees skilled in critical thinking, critical problem solving and teamwork. And a survey of adult skills from the OECD in 2013 found that only between 2.9% and 8.8% of adults demonstrate the highest level of proficiency on problem‑solving in technology‑rich environments in OECD countries.

In an attempt to close this gap, businesses typically build relationships with colleges, vocational schools, universities and high schools. However, new science is telling us this focus on secondary and tertiary education is misplaced. We need to tackle the problem much earlier - at primary and before. Read more...

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