Funding Opportunity


The early years, especially the first 1,000 days, of a child’s life are critical (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2019). It is crucial that a child’s earliest experiences foster, and never harm, their development as these years set the trajectory for future success (Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, 2015). During this time, critical brain development occurs, and children’s early experiences serve as a foundation for their growth and development.

Unfortunately, data suggest that not all children can access supportive early learning opportunities that foster their optimal growth and development during these first years of life. Specifically, young Black children and their families continue to represent the largest proportion of infants and toddlers residing in poverty and often experience limited access to affordable and accessible early care and education (ECE) programs. Exclusionary discipline practices, such as suspension and expulsion, are deepening systemwide ECE racial inequities. Such practices are used at significantly higher rates for Black children in ECE systems, which limits their exposure to high quality ECE and negatively impacts their academic engagement and success over time (Iruka, 2019).

With that in mind, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, in collaboration with North Carolina A&T State University, is looking for promising, innovative, and strengths-based models aimed at addressing racial inequities in ECE suspensions, expulsions, and exclusions.


Available Funding

Blue Cross NC Foundation, in collaboration with NC A&T, is issuing a funding opportunity for a three-year, up to $100,000/year ($300,000 total per organization) grant opportunity to address the inequities in early care and education suspension, expulsion, and exclusionary practices in North Carolina, particularly among young Black children. It is expected that proposals will create, test, and/or evaluate promising models for addressing suspension, expulsion, and exclusion practices in early care and education in North Carolina. Up to five grants will be supported as a result of this opportunity.



  • Type of Organization:
    • A nonprofit organization that is exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
    • A public instrumentality (i.e., a government entity).
    • A fiscally sponsored program – A group or project with a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization acting as a fiscal sponsor:
      • The fiscal sponsor is responsible for all legal aspects of the organization or project.
      • The fiscal sponsor is considered the grantee by the Foundation and agrees to be accountable to the Foundation for the programmatic and financial outcomes of the grant.
    • There is no minimum organizational budget
    • Please Note: Coalitions – Applications involving more than one group or organization are welcome; however, one organization will be the recipient of the grant and must be an established 501(c)(3) nonprofit or fiscally sponsored organization. Organizations and coalitions of any size are eligible to apply if the other eligibility criteria have been met.


Deadline or Activity          Date(s)
Official release and application web form is open          April 20, 2022
Q&A webinar for prospective applicants          May 3, 2022
Deadline for question submission via email          May 6, 2022
FAQs updated with answers to submitted questions          May 13, 2022
Due date for Notice of Intent          May 17, 2022
Applications due in web portal          May 27, 2022
Finalist decision notifications          By June 24, 2022
Invited applicant interviews          July 5-29, 2022
Grantees selected and notified          August 2022


Informational Webinar

On Tuesday, May 3 at 3:30 p.m., the Blue Cross NC Foundation and NC A&T will host a webinar to discuss the funding opportunity and answer prospective applicants' questions. A recording will be posted on this page following the session.


Frequently Asked Questions

We have compiled Frequently Asked Questions to further assist prospective applicants.


Learn More and Apply

Download the full funding opportunity.




  • For questions about this funding initiative contact:


    • Dr. Valerie Jarvis McMillan
      Associate Professor & Program Coordinator, MAT Child Development, Early Education and Family Studies & MAT Family and Consumer Sciences Education
      North Carolina A&T State University
  • For questions about the online submission process contact: