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, tribes and for-profit businesses. 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.

2021-2023 Eligible Organizations Competitive Grant

We will open a competitive funding round for federal funds in February 2022. More information about the federal funding available through the ELF program will be posted later this fall. For future updates about the upcoming funding rounds, sign up for e-mail updates by entering your email address below.

The ELF Eligible Organization competitive application for state funds is now open. To apply, go to the application in the ZoomGrants system located at https://www.zoomgrants.com/zgf/Fall_2021_ELF_Program_Eligible_Organizations_Application

Eligible organizations include:
• Family home providers
• Child care centers
• Early learning providers or centers
• Developers of housing
• Developers of community facilities
• Community and technical colleges
• Educational Service Districts (ESD)
• Local governments
• Federally recognized tribes
• Religious affiliated entities

For more information, select:

Para obtener materiales de solicitud y la presentación del seminario web traducidos al español, consulte estos documentos.

Qalabyada dalabka iyo bandhigga webinar oo lagu turjumay Isbaanish, fiiri dukumentiyadaan.·

Materials may be translated in other languages with at least ten working days’ notice. Please send an email to: earlylearningfacilities@commerce.wa.gov and let us know in what language the materials are needed.

2021-2023 Eligible Organizations Webinar Materials

On September 15, 2021, we conducted a live informational webinar with Q&A session. Select the link below to view a recording of the presentation. Also available is a PDF of the PowerPoint slide presentation and a FAQ with questions and answers from the webinar.

2021-2023 K-12 School Districts Competitive Grant

The application for the 2021-2023 K-12 School Districts funding round is now closed. We have completed our review of submitted applications for the 2021-2023 K-12 School District funding round and a ranked list of projects was submitted to the Legislature for their final funding decision. The Legislature funded all nine projects that were submitted as part of the 2021-23 capital budget (see map below for project locations). Successful applicants have been notified directly and a list of the awarded projects is available for download under Funding Round Awardees header in the right hand column.

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
Kristin Ramos
Program Manager – State Appropriation
Phone: 360-515-6504

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

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

Tanya Mercier
Community Projects Supervisor
Phone: 360-704-0139

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

Technical Assistance

Sign up for updates

To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.