Early Childhood Development Strategy and Guidelines
Theory of Change | Background | Strategy/Goals/Funding Areas | General Guidelines | Application Procedure
Bella Vista Foundation's Theory of Change
The board and staff of the Bella Vista Foundation are committed to being more specific about what we hope will happen over time as a result of the foundation’s grantmaking and community involvement. We are trying to capture this in a diagram of our theory of change, and to some extent, identify the measurable outcomes that will indicate whether or not the foundation is achieving its goals.
To see Bella Vista Foundation’s theory of change, click here.
Organizations' Theory of Change
In the past the foundation asked for a “hypothesis” as part of the grant application, but we believe that identifying a theory of change takes that kind of planning to the next level. When you are applying, please reference your theory of change. You may have a theory of change for the organization as a whole, but the foundation is most interested in the stated goals of your program(s) for parents and caregivers of young children and the measurable improvement that you hope to see in these clients in terms of their being able to cope with stress, and/or improve their parenting, and/or exhibit fewer signs of anxiety, stress, and in some cases, depression.
The foundation will favor agencies that collect data in ways that allow your staff to know whether or not a program is meeting its goals. The foundation believes in the importance of continuous improvement, which can only happen when staff knows what aspects of a program are working and what aspects are not effective.
Strong attachment between caregiver and child increases the likelihood of a child’s healthy social and emotional development regardless of the temperament with which the child is born. Attachment and continued nurturing can often be impeded if the parent or caregiver has difficulty coping with stress. Parenting is demanding, but it is particularly challenging for families whose lives are already full of stress. There has been relatively little attention given to parents’ and caregivers’ ability to cope with the challenges they face (versus trying to reduce the stress for them). Bella Vista Foundation (BVF) has chosen to focus on increasing parents’ and caregivers’ ability to cope with stress as early as possible in the child’s life.
Both the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) and Zero to Three (Z-3) have asserted that the most significant barriers to quality parenting are physical abuse, substance abuse, maternal depression, and the parents' own experience of being poorly parented. However, we are learning from service providers that parental difficulties in coping with stress also grow out of anxiety, anger, isolation, and grief—all of which may be exhibited by mothers, fathers, or other caregivers. It is probable that there is a lot of overlap of these conditions, but for Bella Vista Foundation, the central linkage is parents’ or caregivers’ difficulty in coping with stress.
Both NCCP and Z-3 cite the Department of Health and Human Services study of Early Head Start (EHS) in which—compared to a prevalence of 8-12% among all mothers—48% of EHS parents (mostly mothers and 1/3 still pregnant) exhibit substantial signs of depression. Since EHS nationally serves 3% of eligible low-income children at least that many mother and child dyads are getting some help. However, the other 97% of low-income families are unlikely to be getting systematic help. BVF will focus its efforts on helping low and moderate income parents improve their ability to cope with stress.
Significant public resources are directed (and more could be directed) at increasing parents’ and caregivers’ ability to cope with stress through mental health, substance abuse, anger management, homeless and other service programs. In a growing number of places there are explicit programs, standing alone or addressing co-occurring issues. The scale of the need is so great that it can only be met by significant publicly-funded programs maintained over at least two generations. In the four West Bay counties where BVF works, we will encourage the counties, other foundations and service providers to systematically assess and help parents, caregivers and children with their emotional challenges.
Publicly-funded programs do provide, and most likely need to increase, services to low-income parents and their children with diagnosed mental health disorders. Whether such programs can be extended to parents and children who are likely to have a need before it is diagnosed and to moderate income families who need some level of help is not clear. BVF grants will go to service providers who are willing to push the boundaries of public funding and reimbursement to encompass as many parents as possible who have a need for less intensive services than individual therapy and medication. BVF hopes to complement public funding by reaching as many mothers (and fathers and caregivers) as possible, as early as possible, who might benefit from learning techniques to successfully cope with stress both currently and in the future. Techniques we have supported include mindfulness training during pregnancy; home visiting; substance abuse parenting programs; nurturing parenting programs; infant massage; exercise; and parent support groups, especially for parents who are isolated because of geography or language. There are many other methods of coping with stress—we hope agencies will come forward with some innovative and potentially effective ideas.
To achieve our vision we are employing a two-pronged strategy that (1) supports and promotes collaboration among county groups of public and private agencies that seek to develop and implement county-wide strategies and objectives, and (2) provides grants to community based organizations in each county. This two-pronged approach has an overall long-term societal objective of reducing the number of children coming to kindergarten not emotionally ready to be there from approximately 25% overall today to less than 10% in all ethnic and income groups within a generation.
Our two-pronged approach addresses both county-wide and program-specific funding goals:
The foundation meets twice a year, April and October. Proposals for the April 2013 meeting must be received in the office no later than 5 P.M. on January 17th, 2013. Proposals for the October 2013 meeting must be received in the office no later than 5 P.M. on July 15th, 2013.
If you are reapplying for a subsequent grant please click here.
The board and staff of Bella Vista Foundation are committed to learning as much as possible through the process of grantmaking. We have tried to design our application and progress report so that they can teach us a lot without being too much of a burden for you. The application is structured so that once the proposal has been written you will have the framework needed to complete a progress report. As partners in this process, we hope you will feel free to ask for help or clarification when needed, and we welcome your comments. To see the Early Childhood Development Progress Report Form, click here. Please see below for the appropriate contact depending on the county your agency serves.
If your agency serves Marin or Santa Clara County, please address your questions, cover letter, and/or proposal to:
If your agency serves San Francisco or San Mateo County, please address your questions, cover letter, and/or proposal to:
Submit by email (if possible):
A cover letter on your organization’s letterhead that briefly summarizes the request for funding, includes the dollar amount you are requesting, tells us why you think your program is a good fit for the Bella Vista Foundation’s priorities, and lists the other pieces of the proposal that you will submit by email.
Please send us a proposal with the following information in a reasonable font size, which when printed out is no longer than 5 pages. Also, remember to put a header on each page which identifies your organization.
To access a glossary of terms (i.e., Hypothesis, Objectives, Outcomes, etc.), click here.
Please submit with your proposal the following attachments: (These documents are not part of the 5-page proposal limit.)
For environmental and economic reasons, please do not use binders, folders or other binding for proposals, audits or supporting attachments, and please do not send audio-visual materials unless requested. Thank you.