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Catalyzing Early Childhood Innovation


While there has been significant progress in understanding how to improve early learning and development, nearly half of low-income children in the United States are not ready to enter kindergarten. More solutions and different types of capital are needed to ensure the school readiness and long-term success of all children. Harnessing the power of science, technology and business practices, combined with access to capital, can help pave the way for early childhood solutions that are novel, more effective, efficient or scalable than current ones.


In 2017, GCI announced our multi-year, multi-million dollar human and financial capital commitment to surfacing, piloting, supporting and scaling solutions that will better support early learning and development. Because GCI blends philanthropic and social impact investing capital, we are able to assume more risk and pursue cutting-edge approaches to creating transformative change.

Through our school readiness innovation strategies, we are placing a more deliberate focus on innovation in our portfolio by sourcing more varied solutions, deploying capital differently and better coordinating our investments around problems that need solving. While seeding innovation is an important tool in our school readiness investment strategy, we will also continue to invest in effective programs that have the potential to create transformative change and support policy efforts that are aligned with our mission.

Learn more about our decision to catalyze innovation in early childhood innovation.



As we work to improve the school readiness of Colorado’s low-income children, we invite diverse thinkers from across sectors as well as co-investors to partner with us through the below school readiness innovation strategies, which aim to build a more robust early childhood innovation pipeline; provide early supports and capital to advance new ideas; and grow and scale effective solutions.

Early Childhood Innovation Prize

To build a pipeline of potentially transformative investment opportunities, we partnered with OpenIDEO on the Early Childhood Innovation Prize, which launched in fall 2017 and brought together hundreds of innovators and experts to collaboratively solve the question: How might we maximize every child’s potential during the first three years of life? Learn more about the Prize process and meet the Top Idea and Promising Idea winners.

Supporting an Early Childhood Innovation Ecosystem in Colorado & Beyond

To support innovators who participated in the EC Prize, those who are working locally, and others who want to bring innovation to Colorado, we are:

  • Piloting the Early Childhood Innovation Network to accelerate breakthrough early childhood solutions by providing access to experts, mentors and investors.
  • Supporting a healthy early childhood innovation ecosystem in Colorado by helping to ensure the necessary architecture of supports are in place.
  • Connecting actors, influencers, investors and ideas from philanthropy, the private sector, finance, entrepreneurship and technology to the early childhood field. Learn more about our recent partnership with Social Capital Markets to curate the first-ever track of early childhood-focused sessions at the SOCAP17 conference.

Early Childhood Risk Capital

To attract seed capital to the early childhood sector and create new avenues for entrepreneurs and investors to develop and fund opportunities, we are developing a comprehensive capital strategy focused on for-profit companies that have the potential to reach low-income families.

Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce in Colorado

To source innovative solutions to Colorado’s early childhood workforce challenges, we are co-funding an initiative to test strategies to improve the recruitment, retention and compensation of early childhood teachers and caregivers. Learn more.

Interested in learning more? Contact Steffanie Clothiersign up for our newsletter, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to receive frequent updates on this work.