FINCA Receives a Grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to Support Early Childhood Education for Refugees in Uganda

FINCA launched an initiative to support early childhood education for refugee and host communities in Uganda. The project aims to enable access to affordable, sustainable, and quality early childhood education. A grant of $500,000 from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation will support the growth and quality of early childhood development education centers (ECDCs) for refugee and host children. Ultimately, the project will support early childhood education in Uganda through the provision of market-led financing and a social enterprise delivery model.

Although early education services have expanded in Uganda over the past decade, access remains a problem. According to a 2019 report from Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports, roughly 70% of children under 5 do not have access to early childhood education. Furthermore, enrolling in formal education is even harder for the 850,000 refugee children living in Uganda with their families. Most have fled conflict or persecution in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burundi.

Supporting Early Childhood Education in Uganda

In addition to linking ECDCs with financing, the pilot project will support early childhood education by providing business skills and managerial guidance. These services will be extended in three locations employing 1,000 caregivers and parents. Using a two-generational approach, the project aims to ensure that refugee and host children receive care that enables healthy development. Moreover, parents and caregivers can benefit from sustainable economic opportunities. Additionally, operators of early childhood development centers can gain managerial skills and financing to become sustainable. With support from the Hilton Foundation, the project can benefit around 2,300 refugee and host children under 8.

“Over the past three years, our colleagues at FINCA Uganda have been working with refugee communities to identify their needs, and education for their children is among their top priorities,” said Leslie Enright, Director of Business Development at FINCA International. “Together with our partners at the Hilton Foundation, we hope this project will plant the seed for future large-scale investments in education for vulnerable communities in East Africa and elsewhere.”

Implementation of the project will extend over two years. During this period, support for early childhood education in Uganda will enhance several areas. It will include curriculum development, teacher training, and building the infrastructure that contributes to healthy child development. The first loans to education center operators, parents, and caregivers will be dispersed later this year.

Other partners supporting this initiative include FINCA Uganda, Opportunity International UK (OIUK), Opportunity Bank Uganda (OBUL), PHB Development, and several local refugee-led organizations.

About Hilton N. Conrad Foundation

International hotelier Conrad N. Hilton established the grantmaking foundation that bears his name in 1944 to help people living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage worldwide. Today, the work continues, concentrating on efforts to ensure healthy early childhood development and sustainable livelihoods for youth, support young people transitioning out of foster care, improve access to housing and support services for people experiencing homelessness, identify solutions to safe water access, and lift the work of Catholic sisters. Additionally, following selection by an independent, international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to an organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. The Foundation is one of the world’s largest, with approximately $6.7 billion in assets. It has awarded grants to date totaling more than $3 billion, $435 million worldwide in 2022. Please visit for more information.