Making early care and learning in Colorado more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable.

The Community Innovation and Resilience for Care and Learning Equity (CIRCLE) Grant program will provide nearly $23 million in grants to child care providers and other community, education, or governmental partners to pursue innovative solutions to challenges worsened by the pandemic. Grants will support projects to make child care more affordable; fill gaps in infant and toddler care; strengthen providers’ financial stability; boost workforce preparation; and contribute to the health and learning of all children, including those with special needs and dual-language learners.

In partnership with the Colorado Department of Early Childhood, Early Milestones is the lead agency for this initiative. We will support grantees as they implement innovative solutions to child care challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, emphasizing diversity, equity, and inclusion activities that strengthen partnerships and eliminate barriers. We will also develop local-to-state feedback loops to reduce system-level barriers and partner with grantees to gather data on the impact and outcomes of the initiative.

Community Innovation and Resilience for Care and Learning Equity (CIRCLE) Grants

Nearly 230 organizations across all 64 counties – including 120 early care and education providers, 20 early childhood councils, 72 statewide and local nonprofit organizations, 3 local governments, and 11 institutions of higher education – have been awarded $22.5 million for either a one-year (7/1/22 – 6/30/23) or nine-month (10/1/22 – 6/30/23) CIRCLE grant for projects to advance innovation, promote equity, and address tough childcare challenges that have been worsened by the pandemic, including projects seeking to:

  • Pilot innovative approaches to make child care more affordable
  • Plan for and address gaps in infant and toddler care
  • Boost the ECE workforce by supporting new training, recruitment, and retention efforts
  • Strengthen ECE providers’ business practices by expanding support systems and technical assistance
  • Promote children’s health, social-emotional development, and learning, especially children with special needs and dual language learners, through expanded training and specialized support

Organization Breakdown:

    • 226 grants to 218 unique grantees:
    • 120 grants to ECE providers (127 grantees including 12 school districts)
    • 72 grants to state and local not-for-profits organizations (61 grantees)
    • 3 grants to local governmental entities
    • 20 grants to local early childhood councils
    • 11 grants to institutions of higher education (8 grantees)

Project Geographic Focus Breakdown:

    • Rural & Frontier: 64 projects (28%)
    • Non-Denver Urban: 40 projects (18%)
    • Denver Metro: 90 projects (40%)
    • Statewide: 32 projects (14%)

Innovation & Equity Grantee Profiles

(Esta descripción se repite en español.) The primary goal of the Community Innovation and Resilience for Care and Learning Equity (CIRCLE) Grants program is to support innovation and equity. The 18 grantees highlighted here led a wide range of projects in communities across Colorado. A case study approach was used to document grantees’ implementation processes, barriers, successes, and lessons learned.

The CIRCLE projects featured below centered several innovative and equity-driven approaches that included: (1) Piloting new or novel strategies to address longstanding early childhood challenges. (2) Introducing or deepening diversity, equity, and inclusion practices to better serve diverse families, and/or removing barriers to access for historically marginalized children, and families.

El objetivo principal del programa de subvenciones de Innovación y Resiliencia Comunitaria para la equidad en el Cuidado y el Aprendizaje (CIRCLE, por sus siglas en inglés) es apoyar la innovación y la equidad. Los 18 beneficiarios destacados aquí lideraron una amplia gama de proyectos en comunidades de todo Colorado. Se utilizó un enfoque de estudio de caso para documentar los procesos de implementación, las barreras, los éxitos y las lecciones aprendidas de los beneficiarios.

Los proyectos CIRCLE que se presentan a continuación se centraron en varios enfoques innovadores e impulsados por la equidad que incluyeron: (1) Poner a prueba estrategias nuevas o novedosas para abordar los desafíos de larga data de la primera infancia. (2) Introducir o profundizar prácticas de diversidad, equidad e inclusión para servir mejor a familias diversas y/o eliminar barreras de acceso para niños y familias históricamente marginados.

Additional Grant Funding Opportunities

The CIRCLE Grant is a one-time grant with no additional opportunities to apply for this funding in the future. Please refer to the Growing Forward website to learn more about available state financial support opportunities for Colorado Child Care Programs and Professionals. 


This initiative is funded as part of over $275 million from the federal American Rescue Plan and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act. Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado General Assembly created the CIRCLE Grant program in 2021, and the Colorado Department of Early Childhood selected Early Milestones to distribute the grants to child care providers and other community, education, or governmental partners.

  • Colorado Office of Early Childhood