New & Increased Funding Opportunities through EQUIP Early Childhood Initiative

February 12, 2018


Last year 1,131 low-income children, 559 parents and caregivers, and 315 service providers were served through the Early Childhood Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP). Now entering it's 5th year as an initiative of Bright Promises Foundation, EQUIP is designed to support Quality Improvement for early childhood centers in Cook County serving low-income children.

With EQUIP funds, organizations obtain the assistance of an external consultant to plan, implement, and institutionalize a quality improvement project in a specific area of service. Improvements must be applicable either to all the children served by the center aged 0 through 4 or to each classroom of children in an identified age range. With recent research affirming the incredible 13% ROI on investments in quality early childhood education, Bright Promises is thrilled to be serving more children and families than ever through this initiative.

EQUIP’s philosophy is to promote the overall well-being of children by encouraging a love of learning and healthy physical and mental development. Proposals that align with the Bright Promises Foundation philosophy of early childhood will be prioritized. Bright Promises Foundation believes that:


Guidelines and application forms for the 2018 EQUIP program are now available and include several exciting changes to this program. A recent professional external evaluation of the EQUIP program found that EQUIP is "an effective and impactful model of grantmaking that has helped early childhood agencies implement and sustain critical quality improvements."

We are always striving to improve and do better, so we spent last year collecting extensive feedback from our past and current EQUIP partners and used their learning and experiences to make two key improvements to the EQUIP program.

1)   Increase Grant Size: In previous years, First-year grants did not exceed $10,000 and second-year grants did not exceed $6,500. This year and in moving forward, First-year grants will be awarded up to $15,000 and Second-year grants will be awarded up to $8,000.

We are also excited to announce that for the first time this year, Third-year grants will be available by invitation only.

2)   Greater Flexibility with Grant Funds - In the past, the majority of funds were restricted to support on-site assistance from consultant for quality-improvement trainings or activities. No more than 15% of grant funds were to be be allocated to purchase materials or pay for substitute teachers.

While the majority of grant continues to be directer towards support on-site assistance from consultant for quality-improvement trainings or activities, now up to 20% of grant funds can be allocated to purchase materials or pay for substitute teachers.


The 2018 Guidelines for EQUIP are available HERE. Please read the guidelines carefully before beginning an application form as there are several important changes from last year's guidelines and application process. Applications are due Friday, May 25 by 5:00pm CST.

Is this your first year applying?
Organizations interested in applying for a first year of funding should complete the Year 1 Application Form.

Did you receive EQUIP funds last year?
Organizations that received EQUIP funding last year and are interested in applying for renewed support should complete the Year 2 Application Form.

Have you received two years of EQUIP funding and still require additional support?
Organizations that have received two-years of funding and who are eligible to receive a third year will receive an invitation to apply directly from Bright Promises' program staff.