ChildTtust Foundation Logo

What We Do

Investing in early childhood

ChildTrust Foundation invests in early education and literacy efforts with an emphasis on work that strives toward equity for children and families historically underserved by early childhood systems.

Program Grants Icon
Program Grants

for education organizations from Raleigh to the coast that serve young children, their families and early educators.

Policy Grants Icon
Policy Grants

for statewide advocacy and policy organizations working to elevate early childhood education and literacy in North Carolina.

Who We Support

North Carolina’s next generation of leaders

North Carolina is home to over a million children from newborns through age 8. At ChildTrust Foundation, we believe that every single one of those children deserves a strong, healthy start and the support necessary to succeed in school. Through grants for policy and program work, we advocate at both the community and state levels to support systemic change that benefits our youngest and most vulnerable North Carolinians.

Our grantmaking goes beyond financial gifts to include collaboration, networking and capacity building to ensure greater success. We also partner with Invest Early NC, a network of early childhood funders, which allows us to increase our reach and impact through co-funded efforts.

Children reading together in classroom
Children who cannot read proficiently after 3rd grade are four times less likely to earn a high school diploma
Why It Matters

Literacy leads to long-term advantage

Early brain development builds the foundation for achieving reading proficiency by the third grade. Gaining this proficiency translates into lifelong advantages, like higher graduation rates and incomes. We partner with nonprofits that help babies and young children, along with their families and educators, get what they need to excel in those critical first eight years.

Starting early also offers greater returns with high-quality early childhood programs delivering up to a 13 percent annual return on investment. When we invest in children and families, the next generation will pay it back with interest through a lifetime of productivity and community connections.

Our History

Small foundation,
big impact

Learn more about how ChildTrust Foundation started and the difference it’s making more than 20 years later.

How It Works

Want to apply for a grant?
Learn about our application process.

Our grantmaking is focused on the critical success factors from birth to age eight that contribute to children’s ability to read on grade level by the end of third grade, with particular attention given to those children, families and communities most impacted by racial and economic injustice. This policy or program work may include home visiting and parenting education, literacy interventions during and outside of school, support for early care and elementary teachers/administrators, research and advocacy around early childhood/education policy and efforts that foster young children’s social-emotional health and resilience. We are interested in both state-level systemic change and community-based strategies.

We provide grants to 501(c)3 organizations operating in North Carolina and in alignment with IMC’s non-discrimination policy. We typically do not provide funds directly to individual schools.

No – we make grants for policy and advocacy work at the state level and grants for program work happening in Wake County and across eastern North Carolina.

Yes – both. Each grant is awarded based on the specific needs and intended outcomes of the applicant. 

We award grants on a rolling basis throughout the year without any application deadlines or specific grant cycles.

Contact Cyndi Soter O’Neil at to start a conversation to ensure that your organization or initiative is a good fit. After that, we ask for a short proposal outlining the work and anticipated outcomes along with basic financial documentation (most recent budgets, 990 and audited financials). 

The process varies widely, but once an application has been submitted it typically takes about a month to receive a decision.

Contact Us
Teacher reading to classroom

Want to learn more? Just reach out.

If your organization shares our mission and you’d like to apply for a grant from ChildTrust Foundation, please contact us to tell us about your work.

Our thanks to the following grantees for providing photos throughout this website:

  • Boys and Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain
  • NC Early Childhood Foundation
  • Reach Out and Read
  • Schools That Lead
  • Communities in Schools of Wake County
  • Teach for America – Eastern NC
  • Nurse-Family Partnership
  • EducationNC