Bernard van Leer Foundation

The Bernard van Leer Foundation is a financially independent foundation based in the Netherlands, which was established in 1949. The foundation’s income is derived from the legacy of Bernard van Leer.

The foundation is guided by the vision of Bernard van Leer’s son, Oscar, that all children deserve a good start in life. It works worldwide to inspire and inform large-scale action to improve the health and well-being of babies, toddlers and those who care for them. It provides financial support and expertise to government, civil society and business partners to help test and scale effective services for young children and families.

The Bernard van Leer Foundation provided USD 14.1 million for development in 2021 through its grantmaking activities. Compared to 2020, this amount represents a decrease of 7.3% in real terms.

In 2021, the Bernard van Leer Foundation provided USD 0.9 million to the multilateral system, representing 6.2% of its development finance, all of which was earmarked for specific countries, regions, themes or purposes.

All of this financing was provided to the United Nations (UN) system, notably to PAHO (USD 0.5 million) and IOM (USD 0.4 million).

See the section on geographic and thematic focus for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system.

In 2021, the Bernard van Leer Foundation channelled its contributions mostly through non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society (USD 7.3 million), Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and the private sector (USD 2.8 million) and universities, research institutes or think-tanks (USD 1.8 million).

In 2021, the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s development finance was primarily focused on America and South Asia. USD 4.9 million was allocated to the Americas and USD 3.2 million to South Asia, accounting respectively for 34.8% and 23.1% of the foundation’s development finance. A sum of USD 4.7 million (33.7%) was unspecified by region in 2021.

In 2021, 62.8% of development finance went to the top 10 recipients. The Bernard van Leer Foundation’s most significant recipients included India (USD 3 million), Brazil (USD 2.4 million) and Peru (USD 1.4 million). Moreover, 37.2% of its development finance was not allocated by country.

Least developed countries (LDCs) received USD 0.4 million (2.8%) of Bernard van Leer Foundation’s development finance in 2021. The Bernard van Leer Foundation allocated the highest share of its development finance (39%) to upper middle-income countries in 2021, followed by lower middle-income countries (21%) in 2021, noting that USD 5.2 million (37.2%) was unallocated by income group.

In 2021, more than half of the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s development finance were allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 64% of the foundation’s development finance (USD 9 million), with a strong focus on support to other social infrastructure & services (USD 6 million), health and population (USD 2 million) and education (USD 1 million).

In 2021, the Bernard van Leer Foundation provided the largest shares of its contributions to the goals of reduced inequalities (SDG 10), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) and quality education (SDG 4) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

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The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, the Sustainable Development Goal focus of private development finance, channels of delivery, unspecified/unallocated allocations, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

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