We are the leading global network of funders focused exclusively on the wellbeing and rights of children and youth. We support children and youth by building a community of funders and creating spaces for:
Established in 2011, ECFG now counts 23 members, including many of the leading global funders and philanthropic advisors funding the wellbeing and rights of children and youth globally. Between 2011 and 2020, ECFG members contributed more than $1.2 billion to children facing adversity.
ECFG works on the premise that we are “better together.” We believe our potential impact as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts and that together we can drive greater sustainable change than as individual foundations working alone.
Greater learning and effectiveness in how we use our individual resources
More collaboration and alignment across our varied philanthropic strategies
Collective action for more and better funding, and support for our wider field
ECFG members work in many geographies and contexts, but recognize we are all part of a broader global system and use this diversity to build on each other’s strengths, learn lessons across borders, and sustainably address root causes. Members develop connections and learnings with other funders addressing similar opportunities and challenges. These relationships serve as the foundation to support aligned thinking, collaboration, and joint action, ultimately working to achieve better outcomes for children and youth globally.
ECFG working groups are member-led and Secretariat-supported spaces that enable funders to dive into thematic or geographic areas of shared interest, coordinate their funding strategies, and leverage shared resources and new partnership opportunities.
ECFG commissions research and funder resources that build on member interests and/or identified gaps in the field. Members may propose ideas, guide the research process, and/or ensure the research is actionable and gets into the right hands. Past projects include research on: LGBTQI+ children and youth, mapping orphanage funding flows, the anti-gender movement's weaponization of children, and child- and youth-led grantmaking. See examples of past research and resources developed here.
The Secretariat hosts online and in-person events to create spaces for information sharing and critical reflection specific to areas of interest for membership. Events explore key issues, cater to peer-support conversations, and feature presentations regarding grantmaking insights. Past events have addressed children on the move, child and youth participation, and systems Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL).
ECFG actively pursues opportunities to co-create and participate in research, events, and advocacy that bring together funders from across issue areas. These opportunities allow members to bridge gaps across sectors and encourage funders in other sectors to adopt a youth lens to their work. ECFG works closely with other philanthropic networks and provides opportunities for collective advocacy for more and better funding for children in the broader ecosystem.
ECFG provides space for members to explore and create pooled funding opportunities. Over the years, ECFG members have created numerous pooled funding initiatives, many of which have spun off to become independent entities.
In 2021, we celebrated a decade of history working within philanthropy to more effectively meet the needs of the world’s most marginalized and vulnerable children. During one of the most tumultuous times in recent memory, in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic and worldwide challenges to racial injustice and colonial structures, our network set out to reexamine and renew our shared purpose, and chart a path forward via a new, ambitious strategic direction.
What has emerged is an inspiring new direction for ECFG that expands upon the successful work of the past several years and positions the network to adapt to complex and dynamic realities in the years ahead. It presents a new mission and vision that recognize that realizing rights is central to child and youth wellbeing, and that we have a special responsibility to reach the most marginalized and vulnerable. It outlines bold new areas of work in decolonizing philanthropy and child and youth participation as core elements of ensuring we reach our end goals. It presents an ecosystem-level theory of change that we hope inspires others in the field to ask critical questions about how change happens for the most marginalized children. It calls on all of us - as individuals, organizations, a network, and a field - to collaborate more purposefully in support of increased and improved funding for children and youth, to achieve 4 goals:
We leverage more and better funding, and collaborative action, for children and youth in adversity - across and beyond our philanthropic field.
Our knowledge, skills, and individual grant-crafts are strong, progressive and effective - leading to more impactful grant-making, and ultimately greater impact for children & youth.
We have a fit-for-purpose Secretariat and organizational structure that supports member needs, and our wider impact goals.
We are a thriving, diverse network representative of funders in the field. Our collaborations lead to stronger alignment and impact across our collective strategies - and ultimately, greater impact for children & youth.
ECFG's diverse membership hosts public, private, and intermediary foundations, including many of the leading global funders and philanthropic advisors addressing the wellbeing and rights of children and youth. Between 2011 and 2020, ECFG members contributed more than $1.2 billion to initiatives in support of children facing adversity.
ECFG’s Steering Committee serves as the governing body for the organization and is ultimately responsible for oversight of the Secretariat, ECFG’s finances, and the overall strategy of the organization. Membership in the Steering Committee is open to all ECFG members, with between 4-6 members serving on the Steering Committee at any one time. Steering Committee members serve for 2-year terms and serve no more than 2 terms consecutively. All members of the Steering Committee are nominated and elected by the broader membership.
ECFG's Secretariat proactively supports member-driven activities and projects. The Secretariat works with open ears and hearts to support and amplify members’ individual and collective efforts.
In 2009, the Oak Foundation convened a group of nearly 20 philanthropic foundations to discuss the possibility of convening a private donor collaborative on child protection. These conversations led to the creation of the Children and Violence Evaluation Challenge Fund in 2010, a pooled funding initiative.
In 2010, the Oak Foundation hosted another foundation meeting – The Partnership for Children: Reducing Reliance on Residential Institutions. The objective of the meeting was to convene a donor collaborative on de-institutionalization. It was agreed not to form a collective focused entirely on de-institutionalization but to continue the discussions on broader child protection related issues. These discussions led to the formation of the Child Protection Funders Group in 2011.
In 2014, the group changed its name to Elevate Children Funders Group (ECFG) in an effort to address the field more broadly and expand its focus beyond child protection. At the root of the name change lay a clear intention – to elevate the place of children in all conversations regarding development and sustainability, and to elevate the roles and effectiveness of foundations working to benefit children around the globe.
In 2016, with 13 member organizations and a full-time Secretariat team, ECFG embarked on a strategic review process to refine key elements of its work and to increase its relevance to the philanthropic field. During this next chapter, it focused on using collective convening power to respond to the shifting global political landscapes, support advocacy efforts around policy, and build bridges to policymakers to forge strategic alliances and ensure that children and youth’s issues are elevated.
In 2021, after a decade of working within philanthropy to more effectively meet the needs of the world’s most marginalized and vulnerable children, ECFG adopted a new vision, mission, and strategy. This inspiring new direction recognizes that to reach the most marginalized and vulnerable children and youth around the world, we have to tackle deep, systemic issues within philanthropy and development, and that realizing core rights is central to child and youth wellbeing. Today, ECFG counts 23 members, including many of the leading global funders and philanthropic advisors funding the wellbeing and rights of children and youth. Between 2011 and 2020, ECFG members contributed more than $1.2 billion to children facing adversity.
ECFG is predicated on the idea that we are “better together” - that working together we can drive greater sustainable change than the work of individual foundations. Birds are a beautiful example of this concept in nature. A flock of birds is able to communicate and adjust together in a way that allows them to travel farther and more efficiently than any one bird alone. The origami birds represent the transformation that is possible when we navigate this journey toward a better world for children, with them leading the way.
Heather joined ECFG as Executive Director in June 2020. Heather brings more than two decades of social change leadership experience to the position. She most recently served as Deputy Executive Director and Interim Executive Director at Girls Not Brides, a global partnership of more than 1,200 organizations in over 95 countries working to end child marriage and achieve gender equality. Previously, she worked at the UNICEF Asia-Pacific Regional Office on the Public Finance for Children Initiative; as Executive Director of the Connect U.S. Fund, a multi-foundation grant-making initiative supporting more responsible U.S. foreign policy; and as Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff at Citizens for Global Solutions, a U.S. national membership organization. She holds an MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University.
Sheela Bowler, MPH, MEd, is an equity-oriented social entrepreneur. With more than 12 years of program and system (re)design experience in child health, early childhood development, and child welfare, her career has focused on building child wellbeing systems that enable families to thrive together. Sheela has served as the founding COO of Kidogo, Senior Program Consultant for the African Early Childhood Network, and Senior Advisor for Programs Strategy at NYC's Administration for Children's Services. Before joining ECFG in the spring of 2021, Sheela was Foster America's first Director of Strategic Initiatives and Innovation, where she co-designed reform projects, in collaboration with public child welfare agencies, to create transformative change for children and families nationwide.
Zoe Trout is a purpose-driven creative strategist with a passion for merging communications and advocacy to create meaningful social impact. Passionate about amplifying member voices and supporting them to be changemakers, Zoe leads ECFG's communications strategy and assists with member programming. Zoe draws from diverse experiences, including time spent living in Thailand as a Fulbright scholar and experience running her own creative firm that helps mission-driven non-profits and small businesses create impact through web design and communications strategy. Before joining ECFG in fall of 2020, Zoe was the Associate Director of the Maine Community Law Center, a non-profit law firm ensuring access to justice for low-income Mainers.