Lego, the Danish toy production company that manufactures Lego-brand toys, has recently announced a $143 million global competition to fund bold and impactful solutions focused on early childhood in what the company said will address a “global early childhood emergency”.
Launched by The LEGO Foundation – the non-profit arm of the Lego Group – the grant is being offered to help children in crisis and address the loss of access to services and support, exacerbated by the global pandemic.
As per the announcement, the “Build A World of Play Challenge” will enable any organisations that can make a positive impact on the youngest children anywhere in the world, to bid for a proportion of the $143 million grant. The amount is equivalent to 900 million Danish Kroner, and the initiative is a reaffirmation of the LEGO Foundation’s commitment in the LEGO® brand’s 90th year to ensure children globally are given opportunities to learn through play.
Grants will be awarded to those exploring evidence-based innovative solutions to the biggest problems of today such as access to quality early childhood education and care, adequate nutrition, eradication of toxic stress in homes and communities, reduction of violence in homes and communities, protection from pollution, and supporting the social and emotional well-being of the whole family. The solutions should make a substantial contribution to the lives of children from birth to six years old, and spark a global movement to prioritise early years development, said a statement.
Commenting on the initiative, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of the Lego Foundation, said:
"We are currently facing the biggest global early childhood emergency that the world has ever seen. The quality of experiences in the first few years of a child’s life is where brain development is in its most adaptive and rapidly developing state. They also provide the foundations for learning, health and behaviour in the long-term – investment in which we know improves educational outcomes, develops holistic skills, and enhances quality of life. Providing whole-child support through early childhood development interventions is one of the most powerful and cost-effective equalizers we have at our disposal. Through the Build A World of Play Challenge, we want to join forces with others to urgently address the biggest challenges societies globally face, with creative, actionable ideas that put children at the centre of global decision making. We must start building a world that puts the youngest in society first: building cities, education systems, healthcare systems and solutions to save our planet, at the forefront. This competition is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of the youngest children."
As per the announcement, the grant will be available to the five winning organisations globally, of which three will receive approximately USD 30 million each and two will receive approximately USD 15 million each. In addition, the 10 organisations selected as finalists will receive USD 1 million each to strengthen their proposed plans and build the team to implement their innovation.
The Lego Foundation will assess each entry, and the factors that will determine the winners include, among other things, how impactful, feasible, community-centred, and sustainable their applications are.
To apply, interested and potential applicants must register by April 7, 2022. The deadline for submissions is May 17, 2022. All entrants need to complete an online application via https://learningthroughplay.com/build-a-world-of-play/the-challenge.