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Early Childhood Program Farewell: Celebrating Collaborations and Inspiring the Future

  • When
  • December 16, 2020
    11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. (EST)
  • Where
  • Live Stream
  • Speakers
  • Patrick Gaspard, Tina Hyder, Sarah Klaus, Peter Laugharn, Joan Lombardi, Phyllis R. Magrab, Lynette Okengo, and Kavita Nandini Ramdas
  • Programs

At the end of 2020, the Open Society Foundations will be winding down the Early Childhood Program. Between 1994 and 2020, the program launched ambitious initiatives and advocacy, aimed at reshaping practices and institutions and scaling up civil society to advance the rights of young children.

Inspired by research linking early development to the nurturing of open societies, George Soros steered the Open Society Foundations to make a “big bet” $100 million, 20-year investment in the flagship Step by Step Program. Step by Step transformed early education systems across 30 countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia, and in Argentina, Haiti, and Mongolia. As a result, the Open Society Foundations became one of the first converts to the field of early childhood and our investments over the past 25 years have helped to shape it.

The Early Childhood Program’s work evolved into two distinct streams: the first focused on improving equity and social inclusion for populations challenging discrimination and prejudice. The second aimed at building the civil society structures and capacity of the emerging early childhood field to do this. Open Society led the establishment of a new civil society sector in Europe and Eurasia, and inspired establishment of similar regional networks in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East—and globally.

The Open Society Early Childhood Program’s final publication, Early Childhood and Open Society: Creating Equitable and Inclusive Societies, will be discussed during the event.

A link to the live stream for this event will be distributed 24 hours before the event starts. Please RSVP to attend.


  • Patrick Gaspard


    Until December 2020, Patrick Gaspard was president of the Open Society Foundations.

  • Tina Hyder


    Until January 2021, Tina Hyder was deputy director of the Open Society Early Childhood Program.

  • Sarah Klaus


    Sarah Klaus is a senior program advisor at the Open Society Foundations.

  • Peter Laugharn


    Peter Laugharn is president and chief executive officer of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

  • Joan Lombardi


    Joan Lombardi is a senior scholar at the Center for Child and Human Development at Georgetown University.

  • Phyllis R. Magrab


    Phyllis R. Magrab is chair of the Early Childhood Program Advisory Board.

  • Lynette Okengo


    Lynette Okengo is executive director of the Africa Early Childhood Network.

  • Kavita Nandini Ramdas


    Kavita N. Ramdas is director of the Open Society Women’s Rights Program.

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