Organisations around the world can apply for $143 billion of funding from the LEGO Foundation, in what the Foundation has dubbed the ‘Build A World of Play Challenge’.
To mark the LEGO Group’s 90th anniversary, the LEGO Foundation has opened up a 900 million Danish Kroner grant – $143 million – to support the early learning and development of holistic skills in children.
This extract from the press release explains the Build A World of Play Challenge:
Grants will be awarded to those exploring evidence-based innovative solutions to the biggest problems of today such as access to quality early childhood education and care, adequate nutrition, eradication of toxic stress in homes and communities, reduction of violence in homes and communities, protection from pollution, and supporting the social and emotional well-being of the whole family. The solutions should make a substantial contribution to the lives of children from birth to six years old, and spark a global movement to prioritise early years development.
In the 90th year of the LEGO brand, investment in early years development is more important than ever. Between March 2020 and February 2021, 167 million children in 196 countries lost access to early childhood care and education services. Pre-primary students were the least likely to have access to remote learning, impacting 120 million children. Between 2018 and 2020, an average of between 290,000 and 340,000 children were born into a refugee life per year, which means nearly a million children were born as refugees.
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‘All children have the right to feel safe and have access to quality education and healthcare. But to date, early childhood development has been not just under recognised, but grossly underfunded,’ says Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chair of the Board of Directors at The LEGO Foundation. ‘Children are the builders of tomorrow. To build a better world for future generations – focusing on innovation and action – we must work together. If we do not invest in the youngest children in our society, we don’t invest in our collective future.’
‘We are currently facing the biggest global early childhood emergency that the world has ever seen,’ adds Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of the LEGO Foundation. ‘The quality of experiences in the first few years of a child’s life is where brain development is in its most adaptive and rapidly developing state. They also provide the foundations for learning, health and behaviour in the long-term – investment in which we know improves educational outcomes, develops holistic skills, and enhances quality of life. Providing whole-child support through early childhood development interventions is one of the most powerful and cost-effective equalizers we have at our disposal.
‘Through the Build A World of Play Challenge, we want to join forces with others to urgently address the biggest challenges societies globally face, with creative, actionable ideas that put children at the centre of global decision making. We must start building a world that puts the youngest in society first: building cities, education systems, healthcare systems and solutions to save our planet, at the forefront. This competition is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of the youngest children.’
The grant will be distributed to five winning organisations globally. There will be three grants of approximately USD 30 million each and two grants approximately USD 15 million each. Potential applicants must register by April 7, 2022.