The Zell Family Foundation Donates $10 Million to The Ounce of Prevention Fund

Gift to improve quality and access to early childhood education

CHICAGO – The Ounce of Prevention Fund today announced a $10 million donation from the Zell Family Foundation to increase access to high-quality early childhood education for children from low-income families across America. The Foundation’s investment will directly support the Ounce mission to give young children in poverty the best chance of success in school and life.

Helen and Sam Zell are long-time advocates for and investors in early childhood education. Helen Zell has served on the Ounce Board of Directors since 1996 and led the organization’s first capital campaign.

“All children deserve the chance to achieve their full potential. We know the most effective way to help low-income children is by nurturing strong relationships between them and their families and caregivers, starting at birth,” said Helen Zell, executive director of the Zell Family Foundation. “The Ounce has been a leader in the early learning field for more than 30 years, and we are proud to help them expand their reach and impact to serve more families than ever before.”

As the largest individual gift in Ounce history, this investment sets a new standard for major gifts to the Ounce and early childhood organizations across the country. The funding will enable the Ounce to scale its high-quality programs and trainings that support young children’s development, especially during their most formative learning years, by:

  • Strengthening the capacity and skills of early learning professionals
  • Equipping parents with tools and supports to become leaders of their families and communities
  • Leading the early childhood education transformation by advancing quality learning policies

Ounce Vice President of Development Barbara Hoffman expressed gratitude for this gift, stating, “This is a watershed moment for the Ounce. The Zell Family Foundation’s generosity will allow us to help launch brighter futures for the six million young children living in poverty across the country.” She added, “By continuing to focus on research-based program innovations, pioneering professional development models, and helping policymakers and education leaders realize the full potential of quality early learning, the Ounce is well positioned with this investment to make a concrete difference in our nation’s most important resource – its children.”

Research proves that expanding access to high-quality early childhood education programs helps to prevent achievement gaps before they start. With quality learning experiences and healthy relationships, at-risk children are more likely to grow into accomplished students, successful workers and engaged citizens.


About the Ounce of Prevention Fund

The Ounce of Prevention Fund is a private-public partnership dedicated to providing all children – especially those from low income families – with high-quality early childhood experiences from birth to age 5. The Ounce aims to be the nation’s trusted source for early childhood research and program models that focus on the physical, social and emotional development of children from birth to age five. To give children and families most in-need the best chance for success, the Ounce develops programs, conducts research, trains educators and strongly advocates for early childhood education. Our early childhood programs, such as Educare, have created national models of high-quality early childhood education, ensuring that more children have access to opportunities best suited for their future success.