Bernard van Leer Foundation


The Bernard van Leer Foundation was established in 1949. The foundation’s income is derived from the bequest of Bernard van Leer, a Dutch industrialist and philanthropist, who was the founder of Royal Packaging Industries Van Leer.


To improve opportunities for children between the ages of zero and eight who live in circumstances of social and economic disadvantage, through funding and supporting early childhood projects across the world and sharing knowledge with the aim of influencing practice and policy.

Geographic Focus

Brazil, India, Israel, Ivory Coast, the Netherlands, Peru and Turk

Programme Areas

The foundation focuses its grantmaking in early childhood in three key areas:

• Taking quality early education to scale
• Reducing violence in young children’s lives
• Improving young children’s physical environments

Taking quality early education to scale
Works for the most disadvantaged; Focuses on building sustained demand for services amongst the very poor; Achieves economies of scale, explores funding arrangements that are viable in resource poor environments or situations where public funding is likely to be too weak ‘to go it alone’.

Reducing violence in young children’s lives
Ranges from community-based initiatives to create ‘safe spaces’ for kids, hearts and minds campaigns, stress reduction through economic incentives and improved labor policy and efforts to measure and monitor child security in ways that produce reliable data.

Improving young children’s physical environments
Focuses on improving the physical environments in which children live.

The foundation works primarily by supporting programmes implemented by partners in the field, including public, private and community-based organisations. The strategy of working through partnerships is intended to build local capacity, promote innovation and flexibility, and help to ensure that the work the foundation funds is culturally and contextually appropriate.

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