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

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...

‘Kinderen in Tel’ shows Child poverty in the Netherlands is growing mainly outside of the big cities 13-03-2014

The number of children in the Netherlands growing up in families on social welfare has increased by more than ten percent. Many poor children live outside the major cities. These facts are the results of the study ‘Kinderen in Tel 2014’ (Children Count 2014) over the period 2009 until 2012. This research illustrates the living conditions of children in municipalities, based on eleven indicators from the UN Convention. The different organizations that together form ‘Kinderen in Tel’, amongst them the Bernard van Leer Foundation, strongly advise municipalities to have a poverty policy in which children are centralized. This is an important tool to improve the living conditions of these children and to guarantee their rights.

For more information and the complete research, please check out the website of ‘Kinderen in Tel’. (in Dutch)

Invest in a Strong Start: An Early Childhood Toolkit for Donors is launched! 12-03-2014

A new toolkit is launched! Invest in a Strong Start: An Early Childhood Toolkit for Donors, developed by The Center for High Impact Philanthropy in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, is a new toolkit designed to help donors more easily identify investments that will truly make a difference in early childhood in the U.S.

For more information, check out the website.

The International Law Enforcement Leaders’ Summit 24-02-2014

Watch this video from the “International Law Enforcement Leaders’ Summit", held on October 19-23, 2013 in Philadelphia, USA. At this summit the international association of chiefs of police shared experiences about how to organize law enforcement officials in favour of early childhood development and violence prevention:


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