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Starting kids off right

The Vanguard Strong Start for Kids Program™ was established in 2015 to harness the collective power of charitable giving by Vanguard and our crew. Its broad objective: to start kids off right.

Vanguard Strong Start for Kids provides funding and volunteer hours to give children the opportunity to grow, thrive, and learn, with a focus on improving kindergarten readiness for children growing up in poverty. We currently focus our efforts in the high-need communities closest to where our U.S. crew work and live (Greater Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Charlotte), though we also advocate for change nationally and at the state levels. The program is supported by our generous crew and corporate commitments.

Total committed since inception. $29.6 million

Why start early?

Children growing up in poverty are at a major disadvantage. Investments aimed at providing a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment for children from birth to age five have long-term positive impacts. The influence of early development matters to everything from kindergarten readiness to high school graduation to stable employment and health care costs.

Nobel laureate economist James Heckman put it well: “The research shows that high-quality birth-to-5 programs for disadvantaged children can deliver a 13%-per-year return on investment—a rate substantially higher than the 7% to 10% return previously established for preschool programs serving 3- to 4-year-olds. Significant gains are realized through better outcomes in education, health, social behaviors, and employment.”1

Vanguard Strong Start for Kids selected three drivers of kindergarten readiness:


Expand, improve, and preserve high-quality early learning opportunities and improve the workforce.


Enhance parent/caretaker skills by expanding home visiting and broadening access to parenting resources.


Increase access to and use of services by coordinating efforts in the early learning system.

Kindergarten readiness competencies:

A child is well-poised to succeed in kindergarten if he or she meets developmental targets in areas including:

  1. Physical well-being
  2. Social and emotional development
  3. Cognitive and language development.

A partnership of company and crew

The Vanguard Strong Start for Kids Program is supported by our crew's volunteer time and talent along with generous contributions during the annual giving campaign, including a 100% company match and additional corporate dollars. Since its establishment, Vanguard Strong Start for Kids has approved grants totaling $29.6 million.

The program operates with the advice, feedback, and partnership of many individuals and Vanguard teams. The team overseeing Strong Start has expertise in early childhood education, community organizing, philanthropy, and business leadership and is immersed in the systems that influence the lives of children in our communities.

These dedicated professionals use a research-driven approach to grant selection. At this time, we do not accept unsolicited proposals.