Early Childhood Education

The Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation believes that quality early childhood education helps lay the foundation for children’s future success. It primarily invests in early learning through Smart Start at the United Way of Greater Atlanta, which works to improve the quality and accessibility of care and education for children ages birth through five.

The Foundation’s investments in early childhood education make up a significant part of our average grants portfolio (see graph). The Foundation provides annual support to Smart Start and occasionally considers grants to other organizations working to improve early childhood education in metro Atlanta.


  • United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Smart Start initiative, with a focus on school readiness, professional development, quality improvements and expanded access to early learning
  • Initiatives focused on early language and literacy to ensure children are reading on grade level by third grade
  • Implementation of the state’s Quality Rated system

What We Do Not Fund

  • Organizations outside of metro Atlanta
  • Individuals
  • Individual early childhood education programs or centers