Our Focus

The Jacobs Foundation invests in the future of young people so that they become socially responsible and productive members of society.

In order to achieve this goal, children and youth must be given better opportunities for positive development and equitable access to education. Whatever their background, place of residence or family income, all children should have the chance to reach their full potential.

Early childhood plays a key role in this context; research has shown that this is the most important developmental phase in a person’s life. Moreover, educational programs and resources need to address each child’s individual needs. In the 21st century, new technologies aimed at facilitating individualized learning are becoming increasingly important. This is why the Jacobs Foundation is funding global research on learning and child development, supporting innovative scientists and implementing practical projects in early childhood and rural livelihoods.

Each child is unique. Providing effective support for children and adolescents requires an understanding of how they develop and learn. That’s why we are focusing on the science of learning.

Researchers may soon be able to tell us how to tailor education to children’s individual needs, taking into account biological, social and economic differences as well as differences in their upbringing. This would be a historic breakthrough, and would help to overcome disadvantages that can affect children for a lifetime. A wide variety of disciplines – psychology, neurobiology, evolutionary biology, pediatrics, education, behavioral genetics, computer science and human-computer interaction – need to be involved in research focusing on this area.

Research funding has always been a fundamental component of the Jacobs Foundation’s strategy. We believe that research plays a critical role in the development, evaluation, improvement and dissemination of interventions and programs to benefit children and young people. To drive scientific progress, we provide funding for some of the world’s leading and most innovative scientists in the field of child and youth development.

The first few years of a child’s life are crucial. Scientists have shown that early childhood is the most important developmental stage in a person’s life, a time when the foundation is laid for education and participation in society. But not all children are afforded the best possible start in life. Poverty, isolation and lack of parental education are among the factors that can have a negative effect on a child’s development. And the gap between the socially advantaged and the disadvantaged may persist for a lifetime, unless we provide high-quality support for children even before they enter school.

With our focus on early childhood, we are contributing to the development of relevant policies and programs in Switzerland and other European countries. We seek dialogue with decision makers in the worlds of business, policy and administration and in society at large, and we are helping to drive the research agenda. We have formed new strategic partnerships at the national and cantonal levels. We are collaborating with community experts and supporting institutions in their efforts to become more involved in the early childhood sector. The Switzerland-wide Ready! campaign highlights the crucial importance of early childhood, with the goal of developing a comprehensive early childhood policy.

Ivory Coast leads the world in the production and export of the cocoa beans used in the manufacture of chocolate. Its smallholder cocoa farmers account for almost 40% of global cocoa production. Yet they can barely survive on less than $0.50 a day, well below the internationally recognized $2 poverty line. Nearly half of all men and almost three quarters of women are illiterate. More than two thirds of Ivorian youths have not finished primary education and more than a third have never attended school. There is, however, no sustainable improvement without education. That is why the Jacobs Foundation supports better livelihoods in West Africa, particularly for children, since many years.

Focusing on rural livelihoods in Ivory Coast we run a program called TRECC (Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities), which is a long term multi- stakeholder partnership with the cocoa and chocolate industry and the Ivorian government. Today, TRECC is a CHF 60 million commitment of the Jacobs Foundation, Bernard Van Leer Foundation and the UBS Optimus Foundation to improve the quality of education at national level and in the cocoa growing regions.

SCIENCE OF LEARNING

Each child is unique. Providing effective support for children and adolescents requires an understanding of how they develop and learn. That’s why we are focusing on the science of learning.

Researchers may soon be able to tell us how to tailor education to children’s individual needs, taking into account biological, social and economic differences as well as differences in their upbringing. This would be a historic breakthrough, and would help to overcome disadvantages that can affect children for a lifetime. A wide variety of disciplines – psychology, neurobiology, evolutionary biology, pediatrics, education, behavioral genetics, computer science and human-computer interaction – need to be involved in research focusing on this area.

Research funding has always been a fundamental component of the Jacobs Foundation’s strategy. We believe that research plays a critical role in the development, evaluation, improvement and dissemination of interventions and programs to benefit children and young people. To drive scientific progress, we provide funding for some of the world’s leading and most innovative scientists in the field of child and youth development.

EARLY CHILDHOOD

The first few years of a child’s life are crucial. Scientists have shown that early childhood is the most important developmental stage in a person’s life, a time when the foundation is laid for education and participation in society. But not all children are afforded the best possible start in life. Poverty, isolation and lack of parental education are among the factors that can have a negative effect on a child’s development. And the gap between the socially advantaged and the disadvantaged may persist for a lifetime, unless we provide high-quality support for children even before they enter school.

With our focus on early childhood, we are contributing to the development of relevant policies and programs in Switzerland and other European countries. We seek dialogue with decision makers in the worlds of business, policy and administration and in society at large, and we are helping to drive the research agenda. We have formed new strategic partnerships at the national and cantonal levels. We are collaborating with community experts and supporting institutions in their efforts to become more involved in the early childhood sector. The Switzerland-wide Ready! campaign highlights the crucial importance of early childhood, with the goal of developing a comprehensive early childhood policy.

RURAL LIVELIHOODS

Ivory Coast leads the world in the production and export of the cocoa beans used in the manufacture of chocolate. Its smallholder cocoa farmers account for almost 40% of global cocoa production. Yet they can barely survive on less than $0.50 a day, well below the internationally recognized $2 poverty line. Nearly half of all men and almost three quarters of women are illiterate. More than two thirds of Ivorian youths have not finished primary education and more than a third have never attended school. There is, however, no sustainable improvement without education. That is why the Jacobs Foundation supports better livelihoods in West Africa, particularly for children, since many years.

Focusing on rural livelihoods in Ivory Coast we run a program called TRECC (Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities), which is a long term multi- stakeholder partnership with the cocoa and chocolate industry and the Ivorian government. Today, TRECC is a CHF 60 million commitment of the Jacobs Foundation, Bernard Van Leer Foundation and the UBS Optimus Foundation to improve the quality of education at national level and in the cocoa growing regions.

ABOUT THE JACOBS FOUNDATION