Funders Provide Nearly $6.2 Million Additional Investment to Head Start Early Childhood Innovation Fund for Early Learning and Care Programs

In Press Release

Total investment increases to over $11 million over five years and expands geographic reach

DETROIT, MI – The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan today announced that the Head Start Innovation Fund Collaborative (Innovation Fund) will invest an additional nearly $6.2 million to support innovation and high-quality programs and services at local Head Start agencies serving thousands of young children and their families.

This funding brings the total support for Head Start and Early Head Start to $11.05 million over five years. Additional investment comes from the following Funder Collaborative members: Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan; Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation; W.K. Kellogg Foundation; The Kresge Foundation; McGregor Fund; PNC Foundation; and the Skillman Foundation. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation also invested as a new member of the Funder Collaborative.

“The Community Foundation is pleased to manage the Innovation Fund Collaborative in making critical investments in the well-being and education of our youngest citizens and their families,” said Katie Brisson, vice president, program of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “We are pleased that the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is joining this powerful collaborative effort among foundations in our region that are deeply committed to innovation and excellence in early childhood education and care.”

The Head Start Innovation Fund was created in 2013 when the Funder Collaborative committed $4.9 million to support programs and partnerships that improve the quality of Head Start services and outcomes in Detroit. It has aided the expansion of Early Head Start services, which focus on the needs of expectant families and children through the age of 3. It also provides strategic support for system-wide needs, such as a monthly Learning Network for all providers, a campaign to boost enrollment of eligible families, comprehensive data collection, and staff training.

Innovation Fund impact to date includes:

  • Nearly $4 million in financial support for promising new projects and programs that build innovation within the local Head Start system.
  • System-wide enrollment marketing campaign increased enrollment in Detroit Head Start agencies from 70 percent to 84 percent, year-over-year.
  • Regular convenings of providers from across Detroit together to share best practices and tips.
  • Access to resources that are shared by all Head Start agencies, such as research, data, access to national experts, training, teacher recruitment tools and marketing.

While the Innovation Fund will continue its commitment to Detroit, the round-two contributions of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and the Community Foundation to the Innovation Fund will enable it to expand its scope into the tri-county region. This expansion will address some of the issues identified in a 2015 study commissioned by the Funder Collaborative that looked at regional access to high quality early education and care. The study found that one-third of young children in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties lacked access to high quality early education and care. Western Wayne County and Oakland County recently completed the Head Start federal rebidding process, and the expansion of the Innovation Fund coverage area is intended to create a stronger, regional Head Start system.

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs.  Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $870 million through more than 58,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties.  For more information, please visit      



Lisa Dancsok, CFSEM, 313.961.6675,