Announcing the 2019 Leading for Children Innovative Ideas Award Program

AT LEADING FOR CHILDREN, we know that early childhood educators are always finding new and creative ways to nurture and inspire children–our next generation of critical thinkers and leaders.

The Leading for Children Innovative Ideas Award is our opportunity to recognize and highlight the great ideas of early childhood program directors and teachers. In addition to providing financial awards for these great ideas, we share them with the national early learning community in order to benefit other programs and their children.

In 2018 the first place award went to Ryan Tauriainen, Director of Early Childhood at the Friendship Public Charter Schools in Washington, D.C. You can read about his idea, and those of our other winners, by downloading Enhancing Early Childhood Program Quality.

Leading for Children grounds our conversations about quality within a simple framework that we call the Coherent Path to Quality. The Coherent Path to Quality is defined by elements of quality that are organized by three areas: Relationships & Interactions, Physical & Emotional Environment, and Learning Experiences.

In 2019 we will be looking for submissions that focus on the three areas of the Coherent Path to Quality:

  • Relationships and Interactions  Examples of innovations in this area might include:
    • Strengthening relationships and interactions among the families in your program
    • Creating partnerships across classrooms
    • Hosting ongoing experiences that foster relationships among the staff
  • Emotional and Physical Environment  Examples of innovations in this area might include:
    • Changing the entrance of your program to ensure that families feel welcome when they arrive each day
    • Creating a space for parents to gather
    • Setting up a new outdoor space for play and learning
  • Learning Experiences  Examples of innovations in this area might include:
    • A creative fundraising endeavor that allows teachers to attend professional conferences
    • Developing  parent workshops that increase family engagement
    • Introducing a new curriculum strategy to extend children’s learning

The winning idea (applicant and her program) will receive $2,500 and a plaque for display, the runner up will receive $1,000. Ten honorable mentions will each receive $100 worth of books from the The Book Vine for Children, our colleagues in Chicago.

Entries will be reviewed by a panel of six expert judges and the awards will be announced by September 15, 2019. Winning submissions will be shared nationally on the Leading for Children website, in a free downloadable resource available on the website, and in a national communications campaign.


  • You must have an easily-replicated innovation that is having a positive impact on child development and learning
  • Your idea must align with the foundational principles and core values of Leading for Children found on our website

Deadline: Applications must be received between May 1 and July 15, 2019.

How to Enter: Download the Application form 

Questions: Email us at