Early Learning Facilities Program

The Department of Commerce manages funding awarded through direct appropriation and competitive processes that establish new capacity for early learning providers. The Early Learning Facilities (ELF) program supports Washington’s commitment of developing additional high quality early learning opportunities for children from low-income households. Commerce’s partners in the program are the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington Community Reinvestment Association, Enterprise Community Partners, Craft 3 and the Early Learning Facilities Advisory Board.

Children in a classroom with learning materials

Our Program

The Early Learning Facilities (ELF) program aims to help Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) contractors and Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) providers to expand, remodel, purchase, or construct early learning facilities and classrooms necessary to support early learning opportunities for children from low-income households.

Commerce’s ELF program funding opportunities consists of four parts:

  • Competitive grants to eligible organizations
  • Competitive grants to K-12 school districts
  • Direct appropriations from the Legislature
  • A grant and loan program operated by Washington Community Reinvestment Association, Enterprise Community Partners, and Craft3.

Funding Availability Information

ELF funding is open to nonprofits, public entities, K-12 schools and districts, tribes and for-profit businesses. The type of eligible applicant depends on the requirements of the current funding round being released as indicated below. Nonprofit and for-profit business applicants must be registered in the State of Washington. All applicants must be able to meet all applicable licensing and certification requirements under specific RCWs and WACs pertaining to the early learning and childcare services proposed in the facilities to which the funding will be applied.

Grants made by the ELF program are for reimbursement of capital projects only. Capital costs may include acquisition, design, engineering, third-party construction management, and construction and capitalized equipment costs associated with building early learning facilities. If funding is provided for the acquisition of a building or land, the acquisition must have the resulting outcome of a facility that increases early learning opportunities for children from low-income households.

K-12 School District Funding Round

The K-12 School District Funding Round is now open!

Please click here to access the application in ZoomGrants. Applicants for this funding will go through a competitive process. To know more about this funding opportunity and program requirements, see the application materials posted below:

Informational Webinar Scheduled for June 7 from 1:00 – 2:30:
On June 7, Commerce and our partners at the Department of Children, Youth, and Families will host an informational webinar to provide information about the upcoming grant opportunity and how to apply. We will also have time at the end of the webinar to answer questions. Please see the information below to attend.

Webinar Link:

Call-In Information:
Meeting ID: 884 4802 6295#
Passcode: 236084#
Phone: (253) 215-8782 or (971) 247-1195

Funded projects must result in an increase in early learning capacity. Projects must also commit to reserving spaces for either the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) and/or the Working Connections Child Care Program (WCCC) and must participate in Early Achievers.

Costs incurred before August 1, 2022 are not eligible for reimbursement. Awarded applicants must commit to maintaining the site as an early learning facility for at least 10 years.

2022 Federal Funding - Child Care Minor Renovations Grant

The application period for the 2022 Child Care Minor Renovations Grant is now CLOSED.  With the large volume of applications, award announcements are anticipated to occur in the fall of 2022. 

2021-2023 Eligible Organizations Competitive Grant

The application for the 2021-2023 Eligible Organizations funding round is now closed. Please watch this space for information on the next round next year.

Click here for the press release with a list of the 2021-2023 Eligible Organization awardees’ and insert this link: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WADOC/bulletins/3134cdf

2021-2023 Early Learning Facilities Funding

Funding  CategoryTotal AppropriationNumber of Projects Awarded
K-12 School Districts$4,719,0009
Direct Appropriation$1,089.0004
Eligible Organizations$23,911,000TBD

2019-21 Early Learning Facilities Funding

Funding CategoryTotal AppropriationNumber of Projects Awarded  
K-12 School Districts$4,186,0009
Direct Appropriation$9,062,00012
Eligible Organizations$22,248,00047


Commerce has selected three CDFI partners, Washington Community Reinvestment Association, Enterprise Community Partners, and Craft 3 to run our loan program. See the WELL Fund Flyer for more information or go to the Washington Early Learning Loan Fund website.

Related Law

RCW 43.31.565 through RCW 43.31.583
Link to 2021-23 Program Legislation:
SHB 1080, Sections 1057 and 1083                                        ESHB 1370

Link to 2019-21 Program Legislation:
SHB 1102, Section 1037

Links to 2017-19 Program Legislation:
HB 1777
ESSB 6095, Section 1005

Program Guidelines

Funding Round Awardees


For all program related questions, please email: earlylearningfacilities@commerce.wa.gov

Program Staff

Department of Commerce

Amy Gutierrez
Program Manager – State Appropriation
Phone: 360-280-0010

Olivia Cormier
Program Manager – Federal Appropriation
Phone: 360-485-3921

Kristin Ramos
Community Projects Supervisor
Phone: 360-515-6504

Matt Mazur-Hart
Behavioral Health and Early Learning Section Manager
Phone: 360-742-9099

Technical Assistance

Department of Children, Youth, and Families

Jody Hitchings
Pre-Licensing Unit Supervisor
Phone: 360-271-4214

Grace Ssebugwawo
Community Funded ECEAP/Early Learning Facilities Specialist
Phone: 360-701-7197

Kelcy Shaffer
ECEAP Operations Manager
Phone: 360-407-3663

DCYF Child Care / Early Learning Providers Technical Assistance

DCYF Early Learning & Child Care Offices

Enterprise Community Partners
Juanita Salinas-Aguila
Program Director Pacific Northwest
Phone: 206-223-4518

ChildCare Aware Washington
Phone: 253-383-1735

Listings for “Washington State Regional Coalitions for Early Learning”

Washington Communities for Children

USDA and HHS Joint Resource Guide – To strengthen and expand child care facilities in rural communities.

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