The Lego Foundation has launched a US$143 million global challenge to fund initiatives that make a positive impact on the young.
The foundation’s CEO, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, says the program aims to address what she describes as a “global early childhood emergency”. Dubbed Build A World of Play Challenge, the program will fund organisations that pitch a plan to make a positive impact on the youngest children globally.
“We are currently facing the biggest global early childhood emergency that the world has ever seen,” said Albrectsen. “The quality of experiences in the first few years of a child’s life is where brain development is in its most adaptive and rapidly developing state.
“Through this challenge, we want to help urgently address the biggest challenges societies globally face, with creative, actionable ideas that put children at the centre of global decision making. The challenge is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of the youngest children.”
The Lego Foundation will award grants to initiatives that explore evidence-based innovative solutions to problems such as access to quality early childhood education and care, adequate nutrition, eradication of toxic stress and violence in homes and communities, protection from pollution, and supporting the social and emotional well-being of the whole family.
“All children have the right to feel safe and have access to quality education and healthcare,” said Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, chairman of the foundation, and the fourth-generation member of Lego’s owning family.
“But to date, early childhood development has been not just under-recognised, but grossly underfunded. Children are the builders of tomorrow. If we do not invest in the youngest children in our society, we don’t invest in our collective future,” he said.
The launch of the fund coincides with the Lego brand’s 90th anniversary.