Active since 1950

The Van Leer Foundation has been active in Israel since the 1950s and is focused on fostering an inclusive society.

We believe that this begins with a good start for all children. This is why we focus on addressing inequality by improving services and policies for young children and their families. Many of our investments prioritise providing additional customised support to Arab, ultra-Orthodox and other marginalised communities.

Our portfolio also includes annual grants to the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and the Jerusalem Film Center. These institutions were founded by the Van Leer family and are also a reflection of their commitment to building inclusive societies. The work of both institutions harnesses the power of human sciences and the arts as a tool to make space for different perspectives and build bridges across diverse communities.

Israel at a glance
9.4 million
Total population
1.2 million
Children from birth to age 6
Population living in urban areas
Children living in poverty

We partner with national and local government, civil society, academia and the private sector. Our work is informed by our partnership with the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies who conduct and share research on understanding factors that impact inequality in early childhood, develop policy options and disseminate them to decision-makers. 

To strengthen the parenting support services, promote optimal child development and parental wellbeing, provided by nurses at Tipat Halav well-baby clinics, we work closely the Ministry of Health in partnership with Yad Hanadiv, the Goshen NGO for children’s health and wellbeing and Lotem Strategies Group. These clinics reach 97% of children across all sections of society. We are also addressing urgent needs in light of the war in Israel, including an emergency grant to Early Starters International to provide safe spaces for children displaced from their homes and trauma support for their caregivers, as well as playing a key role in various philanthropy forums addressing early childhood and mental health among young families across Israel. 


Urban95 in Israel

We also strengthen local communities, infrastructure and services with our Urban95 programme. Tel Aviv-Yafo was the first municipality to implement city-wide initiatives and governance models that transformed public spaces and services to better serve families living in urban environments. The city now inspires other cities globally and nationally through enhancing the wellbeing of young children and their caregivers by making early childhood a top priority within the municipality. The Urban95 Israel network has grown with the leadership of the Israel Green Building Council, which is replicating and scaling Urban95 approaches to seven cities across the country including: Beit Shemesh, Tira, Ashdod, Dimona, Lod, Baka al-Gharbiyye and Tirat Hacarmel.

Learn more

We also bring our programmes together to unlock co-benefits and strengthen the community of early years champions in Israel. These initiatives include partnering with the Ministry of Health and Bezalel Academy to create and write a design guide based on Urban95 principals for urban designers and architects to enhance the design of indoor and outdoor spaces of well-baby clinics across the country.   

Our work in Israel is thoroughly evaluated by our partners, the Center of Educational Technology, the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College and Tovanot, whose evaluation methods focus on formative evaluation and promote knowledge sharing, peer learning and implementation to support sustainability and scale of our work.


Knowledge from Israel
Book MESHI Book for Infant and Toddler Edu-carers
The online resource is the first “textbook” written in Israel for working edu-carers in the early years.
Guide Between the Drops: A Guide to Design Principles
This design guide was developed to inform and inspire urban professionals interested in transforming spaces for young children and their caregivers.
Guide Child-Friendly Cities: Urban95 Guidelines in Israel
These comprehensive planning and design guidelines capture the how-to of Urban95 programming in Israel.