Who We Are

Since 1982, the Ounce of Prevention Fund has persistently pursued a single goal: that all children living in America—particularly those born into poverty—have quality early childhood experiences in the crucial first five years of life.

Our mission statement: The Ounce of Prevention Fund gives children in poverty the best chance for success in school and in life by advocating for and providing the highest-quality care and education from birth to age five.

Children born into poverty begin life with the odds stacked against them. That’s not just unfortunate for them. It’s a problem for all of us—one that can and must be solved.

The Ounce is demonstrating effective solutions every day. Our work is anchored in a growing body of scientific evidence about early brain development. We use private dollars to apply that science in developing innovative programs, and then leverage public funding to support their implementation and replication.

Here’s what we do:

  • We serve more than 4,000 children and families directly through birth-to-five programs we fund and operate in Chicago as well as through our network of voluntary home visiting programs throughout Illinois.
  • We integrate the latest research and best theories into our program development efforts.
  • We train nearly 3,000 community-based early childhood professionals in Illinois each year.
  • We advocate for state and federal funding for early childhood services that reach hundreds of thousands of children across the country.
  • We partner with advocacy organizations in 17 states and Washington, DC, to build their capacity to advance policy change and increase public investments in effective birth-to-five programs.
  • We communicate through publications and other resources to ensure that what we know is translated into understanding that leads to action—in homes, schools, board rooms, and on Capitol Hill.
  • We design and develop models, curricula, education materials and other programs that help prevent the academic achievement gap and the social problems it can create, including school dropout rates, teenage pregnancy, juvenile crime and chronic health conditions.

Learn how you can support the Ounce.

About Irving Harris

Irving B. Harris was a remarkable business man but an even more remarkable philanthropist who was decades ahead of his time.

Our Manifesto

Who are we? We are life changers. Pioneers. Architects of the future. Driven to unleash the power of human potential. True champions of children.