Since its inception in 2016, the FUND FOR EARLY LEARNING (FUEL) has committed over $50 million toward its mission of converting New York City into an “early learning metropolis” — a place where every infant and toddler can equitably achieve a bright future. As an outcomes-driven initiative, the value of each FUEL-investment is based on quantifiable impacts to children’s social-emotional and language competencies.

To get there, we need to translate the science of early neurological development into actions by parents, caregivers, practitioners and policymakers to optimally build the brains of over 100,000 young New Yorkers, age 0-3, living in poverty, and to change their life trajectories in the process.


In New York City, there are at least 100,000 children ages 0-to-3 living below the poverty line.

This early developmental stage is the most critical to a child’s future trajectory and lifetime outcome: one million new neural connections form every second during this period of a child’s life. These children are therefore especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of the extreme stresses of poverty – and they’re in significant danger of falling behind their more affluent peers.

COVID-19 has exacerbated the effects and scale of poverty in New York City.

Families living in poverty were disproportionately affected by the onslaught of COVID-19. The pandemic created social, financial, and familial shocks in children’s lives that have resulted in exposure to multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences. FUEL’s partners are uniquely positioned to and have been responding to the needs of families in these times.

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Challenges of early childhood education

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Early childhood brain development

“FUEL made it possible for us to implement a model of care in real-world pediatrics and Women’s Health settings in pilot sites, bringing together evidence-based programs in a 2Gen approach. Everyone thought that implementing a comprehensive model like this [in one of the city’s largest hospital systems] wasn’t possible, but Robin Hood’s ability to envision potential attracted other entities to make this feasible and scalable.”

– NYC Health + Hospitals, 3-2-1…IMPACT!

“FUEL’s approach to genuine community driven change is a refreshing departure from much of the way philanthropy has historically engaged with disinvested-in communities. They have unwaveringly supported our commitment to treat lived experience as a critical form of expertise and to trust parents and frontline staff to be the key sources of information and decision-making in systems change efforts.”

– United for Brownsville


FUEL for 50 is awarding $25,000 in unrestricted funding and access to organizational support to 50 nonprofit organizations with community-led projects serving the families and caregivers of NYC kids ages 0–3.

FUEL Partners

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