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We are a community-based, Japanese bilingual and multicultural childcare organization committed to providing quality and affordable childcare services. Incorporating Japanese language and curriculum, our programs foster children's self-esteem, cooperation and confidence.

We promote a partnership between teachers, children and their families to build a stimulating learning environment that allows children to develop to their full potential and become active members of the community.

NLF Highlights


NLF was founded in 1975 by a group of parents and community activists who were committed to the idea of offering culturally sensitive childcare for young children in San Francisco’s Japanese community. NLF also recognized the importance of the early years in a child’s growth and development, in particular, the critical period for brain development during

the first five years of life.  After much research and planning, the organization began with a single preschool serving 15 children.  With subsequent community demand for the service, in 1985, NLF opened a second preschool site at the 1830 Sutter Street, a historic building designed by world-renowned architect Julia Morgan. Today, NLF has one combined preschool program site and an elementary school-age program site serving over 200 children annually from diverse economic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.  40% of the children enrolled are of Asian ethnicity including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Mongolian, Southeast Asian, East Indian and Pacific Islander; 45% are multi-ethnic; 7% are White; 5% are Hispanic; and 3% are Black.

NLF is also committed to providing affordable services for all income levels.  Approximately 30% of the families of the preschoolers are subsidized by government funds due to their extremely low household incomes.   Over 70% of the families served through all of its programs fall within the low-to-moderate income levels as defined by federal HUD guidelines.  To accommodate these families, NLF provides a sliding private fee schedule that makes early care and education more affordable to moderate-income households.


NLF is supported predominantly by its parents—currently, 60% of operating revenue comes from parent-paid fees and fully 100% of the parents give either time or money to NLF.  Another 33% come from government grants and contracts, and the balance through programmatic fundraising, grants and donations.  NLF’s parents take a strong leadership role in special events and fundraising through the orchestrating of theater productions, auctions, food booths, garage sales, and similar community activities.  These events are totally parent and staff driven with work committees assuming responsibility for coordinating all aspects of an event from publicity to costumes to production.


October 1975  

Established first program for preschoolers in the education building of the S.F. Buddhist Church.


December 1976  

Received funding contract from the California Department of Education to subsidize children of low-income families.  Move to a larger facility in an African American church on Golden Gate Avenue and Masonic.


December 1977

Moved back to Japantown after securing a lease for the auditorium of Kinmon Gakuen on Bush Street.


January 1979  

Opened After School Program to accommodate preschool graduates attending elementary school.  The After School Program relocates to its present location at Christ United Presbyterian Church which allows for further expansion.


October 1985

Opened second preschool site at the Western Addition YWCA to accommodate a long waiting list.


December 1992

Collaborated with other childcare centers, family daycare homes, and mental health providers to offer services and subsidies for infants through elementary school-age children and their families with funding through the Mayor’s Office of Children, Youth and Families.  


July 1998

Joined 26 other community-based agencies to form the Asian Pacific Islander Family Resource Network (APIFRN), which serves to strengthen families and reduce the risk of abuse and neglect in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities.  Funding for the network services is secured from the Department of Human Services.


September 2000

Announced the kick-off of its first Capital Campaign for a permanent facility at its 25th Anniversary Celebration.


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