Early Years Special Initiative
Early Years Special Initiative


The attainment gap emerges in early childhood and develops and expands throughout a person’s lifetime.  For children facing socio-economic disadvantage, the impact on their cognitive and socio-emotional skills plus the difficulty for them to catch up if they fall behind, is stark. This has worsened following the Covid pandemic.  During the school years, these educational inequalities continue to grow affecting future learning and work prospects.

The Mercers’ Company as trustee of the Charity of Sir Richard Whittington has been supporting work in the Early Years since 2019 when Phase 1 of its Special Initiative was launched.  We are now opening funding applications for the second cohort of Phase 2 of the Special Initiative.  

We are looking to support organisations whose work is focused on children aged 2 – 5 years old and addresses the following outcomes:

  • An increase in children’s numeracy, literacy and language skills
  • An improvement in school readiness (personal, social and emotional development)

The application process begins with the submission of a short Expression of Interest (EOI) in which we ask applicants to provide basic information about the Early Years work for which funding is requested.  The EOIs will be reviewed and then shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit a fuller stage 2 application.

The programme launched on Tuesday, 9th January with a webinar which can be viewed here and the accompanying slides.

The EOI must be submitted by noon of Monday 5 February.  Part of the EOI form is an eligibility checker which will advise if you can proceed with an EOI.

In early March, applicants will be advised if they are invited to submit a stage 2 application.

The guidelines and full application timeline can be found here.

If you have any questions about the funding round, please contact grants@mercers.co.uk.