About Us

The Bernard van Leer Foundation has invested more than half a billion US dollars since it was founded on the path it set out with the goal of “Improving the opportunities for children growing up in circumstances of social and economic disadvantage.” We provide financial support and expertise to partners in government, civil society and business to help test and scale effective services for young children and families.

At the Bernard van Leer Foundation, we believe providing all children with the opportunity to make a good start to their lives is not only the right thing to do but also the best way to build healthy, creative and peaceful societies.

Bernard van Leer established a packaging and transportation company in the early twentieth century, investing in many countries worldwide. Having witnessed the devastation caused by the Second World War, Bernard was deeply touched by what he saw and decided to contribute in the development of the society. He established the Foundation in 1949, and after his death in 1958, his son Oscar took over the management of the company and the Foundation, and decided to focus the efforts of the Foundation on early childhood.

Having promoted the work on early childhood in nearly 50 countries until 2000, the Foundation currently supports early childhood efforts across various countries including Brazil, Ivory Coast, India, the Netherlands and Turkey in addition to its global program. The Foundation started its activity in Turkey in 1994, and has since supported various studies, communication and implementation projects targeting the children of disadvantaged families in collaboration with universities, non-governmental organizations, companies and local governments.