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Donor Spotlight: Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation

For the past six years, the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation has partnered with Start Early to increase access to equitable, high-quality early education and care for all children and families.

April 13, 2022
  • Start Early News
  • Blog

“Tomorrow’s Hope,” recently featured at SXSW EDU, is the story of passionate educators and tenacious students – from the first-ever class at Educare Chicago – determined to succeed.

The Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation is deeply committed to creating standards of fairness and a level playing field for those living in poverty and adversity by supporting equal treatment through high quality early childhood learning and improving K-12 and college graduation rates. Founded in 1997, the Foundation is focused on opportunities that support educational advancement.

For the past six years, the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation has partnered with Start Early to increase access to equitable, high-quality early education and care for all children and families. Foundation investments in the Early Childhood Connector, First Five Years Fund and the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisors Network, have enhanced our ability to bring coherence to a fragmented field and drive public awareness and systems change. We’ve also worked closely to amplify the films Tomorrow’s Hope and Starting at Zero, both provide compelling rationale for why transformational change is required to ensure future generations of children and families can reach their full potential. Each film has been hailed for its inspiring stories and powerful calls to action.

Tomorrow’s Hope brings us into the lives of passionate educators and tenacious kids and their families on the South Side of Chicago, determined to carve out the future – despite a sea of incredible challenges. The film reunites three graduates from the first class of Start Early’s birth-to-5 school, Educare Chicago, and explores the continued impacts of their early childhood education as they prepare for high school graduation. Starting at Zero explores the power of investing in high-quality early childhood education. The film centers the voices of policymakers, educators, academics, business leaders, pediatricians, parents, and children to demonstrate how essential the earliest years of learning are to maximize human potential.

Earlier this year, Tomorrow’s Hope was accepted into the acclaimed SXSW EDU Film Festival, an unparalleled experience at the forefront of discovery, creativity, and innovation. In March, the film was screened to a live audience, followed by a Q&A panel with co-producers, Tamra Raven and Aaron Steinberg, as well as Portia Kennel, Senior Advisor, Buffett Early Childhood Fund, who was featured in the film.

Producers Tamra Raven and Aaron Steinberg listening to Portia Kennel giving some wisdom. (Photo by Wildman)

Educare was a place of hope, peace, joy, learning, trust and respect – a stark contrast to what was happening in the south side Chicago neighborhood where we were located.

Portia Kennel, senior advisor, Buffett Early Childhood Fund
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Learn more about how you can join the group of donors, policymakers, educators, and community leaders who have hosted virtual screenings of these films to ignite conversations about the importance of early education. During the month of April, both documentaries are available for individuals to view at no charge. Please click below for sign-up information.

Start Early remains grateful to the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation for their ongoing support as we champion together early learning and care for all children and families.


Founded in 1997 and in carrying out its mission, the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation makes charitable contributions that are primarily focused on opportunities for educational advancement.

The Foundation supports programs that assist the homeless, advance early childhood education, improve K-12 graduation rates, provide college scholarships, medical care, shelter and nutrition to the needy, as well as supporting programs to provide assistance for entry into employment opportunities.

The Foundation is deeply committed to creating standards of fairness and a level playing field for those living in poverty and adversity by supporting equal treatment through high quality early childhood learning and improving K-12 and college graduation rates. In this regard, the Foundation supports innovations in scientific teaching methods and best practices.

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