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

The importance of Early Childhood Development: Spread the Word! 12-05-2014

Good news! The petition to put Early Childhood Development at the heart of the new post-2015 development framework to give all children the best start in life, has – with over 10.000 supporters - reached it's target!

The next step is to make Early Childhood Development a top priority for all countries. Together the Consultative Group, OSF, UNICEF and UN SDSN have produced a document entitled: "Early Childhood Development: The Foundation of Sustainable Human Development for 2015 and Beyond."

This document is intended to help policy and decision-makers understand the importance of Early Childhood Development to global development and raise it in Post-2015 deliberations. It is also a useful tool for campaigning in your home countries as well as at the UN.

You can download the document here. Please read the paper and spread the word!

And the winner is... 07-05-2014

We are happy to announce that our partner Fundacao Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal (Sao Paulo, Brasil) is the winner of the ALAS-IDB Best Innovation Award!

About the Foundation Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal:
This foundation works innovatevily to capitalize on children having one chance at good childhood, by ensuring that children receive comprehensive health services, nutrition, and education. Through the efforts of the foundation, the brazilian authorities, state and municipal governments, and NGOs from nine cities in the state of Sao Paulo have agreed to work toward the same goal.

For more information about the award and the other finalists please visit the website of the Inter-American Development Bank.
For more information about Foundation Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal, please visit their website.

BvLF's Annual Report for 2013 07-05-2014

Annual Report 2013 cover imageThe Bernard van Leer Foundation's Annual Report for 2013 is now available to download, read online or order your free printed copy. As well as a report on 2013's activities, it reviews progress on the Foundation's strategic goals since 2010. It includes an executive summary in Spanish.

Charles Nelson responds to Guardian's neurscience article 06-05-2014

Responding to a recent article in the Guardian ("Is misused neuroscience defining early years and child protection policy?") Professor Charles Nelson of Harvard Medical School explains in a letter to the editor why the article "misrepresents the current state of knowledge" about the extent to which experiences in the early years shape the development of the brain.

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...

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