Closing the Gap Grants

Capacity-building grants to increase access to high-quality early learning opportunities

Access to high-quality early learning opportunities is foundational to 

  1. A child’s success in kindergarten and beyond
  2. A family’s ability to achieve self-sufficiency
  3. A community’s economic resiliency

Using the Closing the Gap report, community stakeholders, leaders and early care and education providers can equip themselves with the data needed to make informed and strategic choices to expand access to high-quality child care in their communities. Eligible organizations are invited to submit proposals to close the gap in their communities.

The challenge is great, but the opportunity to build a system of more equitable access for Hoosier children is even greater.

The Issue

Given the myriad factors that contribute to a family’s ability to access early learning opportunities that meet their needs, a comprehensive understanding of the state of access in Indiana has been elusive. Community leaders and early care providers are often left wondering how to approach capacity expansion to address crucial local needs and create sustainable growth.

The Solution

Through the Closing the Gap report, Early Learning Indiana set out to describe the intersections between the various factors contributing to adequate early care and education access and to provide Hoosier communities with a guide for prioritizing their efforts to improve these factors. To jump start these solutions, Early Learning Indiana, with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc., is supporting grants of up to $100,000 for organizations to close the gap in their communities.

Closing the Gap Report

Early Learning Indiana has developed a new methodology, the Early Learning Access Index, that attempts to both qualify and quantify early care and education access throughout the state. This method moves away from viewing access as simply a capacity supply and demand equation and layers in the additional components of quality, affordability and choice. These four elements, viewed in context with one another, offer a more robust assessment of Hoosier families’ ability to access early learning opportunities that suit their needs.

Grant Details

Closing the Gap grants are intended to support communities in addressing their specific local gaps in access to high-quality early learning programs. Solutions should consider access, quality, affordability and choice.

Eligible organizations may submit a proposal for up to $100,000 to increase access.

Join Early Learning Indiana to learn more about Closing the Gap grants.

Closing the Gap

Early Learning Indiana is changing the way we understand access to high-quality early learning programs.

We have developed a new methodology, the Early Learning Access Index, that attempts to both qualify and quantify access throughout the state. This method moves away from viewing access as simply a capacity supply and demand equation and layers in the additional components of quality, affordability and choice. These four elements, viewed in context with one another, offer a more robust assessment of Hoosier families’ ability to access early learning opportunities that suit their needs.

Communities can close the gap.

Early Learning Indiana, with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc., is supporting grants of up to $100,000 for communities to address their specific local gaps in access to high-quality early learning programs.

Access and Approach: Creating Targeted Solutions for Access Gaps

Access to early learning programs has historically been reduced to a quantifiable analysis of supply and demand. These studies are useful in determining whether there are enough spots in early care and education programs to meet the perceived demand within a given geographic boundary. Where they fall short, however, is in qualifying how well the supply meets the needs of the population, beyond simply ensuring there are enough seats for children who may be in need.

Join Early Learning Indiana to explore our new methodology, the Early Learning Access Index, that attempts to both qualify and quantify access throughout the state, layering in the additional components of quality, affordability and choice.

We will dive into specific community examples to illustrate how all Hoosier communities can create targeted solutions for their local access gaps.

Questions? CLICK HERE to sign up for a 15-minute session with Natalie from Early Learning Indiana.

Closing the Gap Timeline

August 17
August 18
August 24
August 25
October 8

General FAQs

The Closing the Gap grant awards eligible organizations up to $100,000 to address their specific local gaps in access to high-quality early learning programs.

Increased access may be new seats at a current location, new seats at a new location, and/or acquired seats brought under an organizational umbrella that address quality, affordability and/or choice.

Please email natalieb@earlylearningindiana.org with questions.

Applicants must be a tax-exempt nonprofit organization incorporated in the state of Indiana.

Application FAQs

Eligible organizations can submit a proposal HERE.

Interested organizations are encouraged to participate in the informational webinars.

The Closing the Gap report describes the intersections between the various factors contributing to adequate access to early care and education and provides Hoosier communities with a guide for prioritizing their efforts to improve these factors. Learn more about your community’s Early Learning Access Index here.

Proposals must meet the requirements specified in the RFP, including the submission of a budget. A specific template is not required.

Grant funds may be used to cover construction and/or capital improvements related to new or current site expansion, classroom materials, marketing and enrollment supports, staffing for seat acquisition processes, student assessment materials and/or training, operational software and/or training and administrative support.

Early care and education providers who are part of a Closing the Gap grant must maintain or achieve a Paths to QUALITYTM Level 3 or 4 rating during the established grant timeline. Providers must also currently use or begin using Teaching Strategies Gold® to assess student outcomes within three months of opening new seats; data from student outcomes must be shared with Early Learning Indiana through the end of 2023.

A: Communities are encouraged to connect with Indiana’s Child Care Resource and Referral Network to explore supports for increasing high-quality child care opportunities.

Timing FAQs

Interested and eligible organizations should apply by Oct. 8, 2021, to be considered for funding.

Early Learning Indiana will notify successful applicants in October 2021.

Project timelines should be focused and achievable.