Find Us
Amazon Smile

Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood

The Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood is an incubator of promising research and development projects that appear likely to improve the welfare of young children, from infancy through 7 years, in the United States. Welfare is broadly defined to include physical and mental health, safety, nutrition, education, play, familial support, acculturation, societal integration and childcare.

Grants are only made if a successful project outcome will likely be of significant interest to other professionals, within the grantee’s field of endeavor, and would have a direct benefit and potential national application. The Foundation’s goal is to provide seed money to implement those imaginative proposals that exhibit the greatest chance of improving the lives of young children, on a national scale. Because of the Foundation’s limited funding capability, it seeks to maximize a grant's potential impact.

Program Guidelines

The Foundation provides funding in the following areas

  • Early Childhood Welfare

    Children can only reach their full potential when all aspects of their intellectual, emotional and physical development are optimally supported.

    Providing a safe and nurturing environment is essential as is imparting the skills of social living in a culturally diverse world. Therefore, the Foundation supports projects that seek to perfect child rearing practices and to identify models that can provide creative, caring environments in which all young children thrive.

  • Early Childhood Education and Play

    Research shows that children need to be stimulated as well as nurtured, early in life, if they are to succeed in school, work and life. That preparation relates to every aspect of a child’s development, from birth to age seven, and everywhere a child learns – at home, in childcare settings and in preschool.

    We seek to improve the quality of both early childhood teaching and learning, through the development of innovative curricula and research based pedagogical standards, as well as the design of imaginative play materials and learning environments.

  • Parenting Education

    To help parents create nurturing environments for their children, we support programs that teach parents about developmental psychology, cultural child rearing differences, pedagogy, issues of health, prenatal care and diet, as well as programs which provide both cognitive and emotional support to parents.

Funding Limitations

​The Foundation will not fund:

  • the operation or expansion of existing programs
  • the purchase or renovation of capital equipment
  • the staging of single events (e.g., concerts, seminars, etc.)
  • the creation or acquisition of works of art or literature
  • the activities of single individuals or for-profit entities
  • political or religious organizations
  • programs with religious content
  • programs to benefit children residing in foreign countries
  • medical research applicable to both adults and children

All letters of inquiry that don't comply with the limitations will be rejected.

Furthermore, the Foundation will only fund grant applications that define measurable outcomes, include credible methods for documenting and assessing results, provide for financial accountability in the application of funds, and include detailed, prudent implementation budgets.

Policy on Funding Indirect Expenses for Grants

The Foundation will not fund arbitrary or excessive allocations of indirect expenses even if a project is worthy. The Foundation’s Board will only approve a maximum of 15% of a project’s direct expenses, when earmarked as general and/or administrative overhead.

Policy Regarding Multiple Year Funding Requests

Consistent with the Foundation’s mission, as an incubator of innovative research and development directed to improving the general welfare of young children, we will not fund more than the first year of multiple year projects. It is our belief that having multiple funders, of those worthy projects that demand more sustained efforts, increases the likelihood of their success by ensuring broader oversight and greater long term promotional possibilities.

Apply for a Grant

The Foundation employs a two-step grant application process that includes the submission of both a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) and a Full Proposal–the latter only by those applicants requested to do so. This ensures that consideration of Full Proposals is limited to those applications that strictly comply with the Foundation’s programmatic guidelines.

The next deadline for submitting a LOI is .

Applicants must submit Letters of Inquiry by clicking on the Email your Letter of Inquiry button below. Once a Letter of Inquiry is received by the Foundation, the Directors will determine if the proposed program fits the Foundation’s funding guidelines. Successful applicants will be invited via email to submit Full Proposals.

Each Letter of Inquiry should include the following information:

  1. The organization’s official name, website address and contact information
  2. A brief (250 word maximum) summary of the organization’s mission and recent program history
  3. The organization’s 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Status letter from the IRS and its’ Federal Tax ID#
  4. The total amount of the organization’s annual budget
  5. The total amount of the grant request
  6. An indication of the amount and type of support being requested from all sources
  7. Title of the project and a narrative description (1,000 words or less) of the issue(s) or need(s) to be addressed by the proposal, the work to be performed and the anticipated outcome
  8. A description of how the proposal fits the Foundation’s program guidelines
  9. A description of how your project and/or research is innovative in nature

Your Letter of Inquiry must follow the number format listed above. Failure to follow the specified format will disqualify your LOI from review by the Board of Directors. Please note LOI and the name of your organization in the subject line of your email.

All written correspondence to the Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood should be directed to Amanda R. Keiffer, CPA at 108 East Main Street, Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, 17745

Email your Letter of Inquiry

This will open your default email client. If you are using a different client, please send the email to, and use "Letter of Inquiry" as your subject line.

Grants Awarded

{{ grant.organization }}

Previous Recipients

  • {{ grant.organization }} – {{ grant.amount }}

About Us


Frank and Theresa Caplan were pioneers in the development of creative, imaginative, educational toys for young children. In the early thirties, Frank Caplan was a youth worker and one of the first male nursery school teachers in the United States. In 1949, he co-founded Creative Playthings, a company that designed and manufactured toys to enhance the imagination and learning of young children.

By the 1950’s, Creative Playthings was one of the most important manufacturers and suppliers of early childhood educational toys and equipment. They collaborated with internationally known artists, such as Nino Vitali, to design toys, as well Milton Hebald, Isamu Noguchi, Robert Winston and architects like Louis Kahn to design outdoor playscapes and sculptures.

Creative Playthings researched and developed innovative curriculum materials for schools and furniture that could be stacked and rearranged to allow for flexibility within the classroom. They introduced dolls, which were racially diverse, and anatomically correct boy and girl dolls, which were provocative at the time.

In 1975, Frank Caplan and his wife, Theresa, created The Princeton Center for Infancy and Early Childhood, a pioneering research and publishing organization focusing on materials for parent education. He researched and co-authored, with Theresa, a national bestselling series on early childhood development called The First Twelve Months of Life (1977), The Second Twelve Months of Life (1978), and The Early Childhood Years: The 2-6 Year Old (1983). In addition, Frank and Theresa co-authored The Power of Play in 1973.

Throughout their lives, Frank and Theresa worked to develop innovative and beautifully designed educational toys and equipment for home and school environment. They wanted to encourage parents’ understanding and knowledge about the extraordinary time of infancy and early childhood.

The Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood was created in 2014 as a result of a bequest from Theresa Caplan stipulating her estate be used to incubate innovation and research addressing the needs of children from birth through age seven.

Financial Information