Cincinnati Preschool Promise

Dedicated Funding Streams & Financing

  • Taxes

Cincinnati, Ohio

In 2016 and again in 2020, taxpayers in the Cincinnati Public School District approved a 5-year levy (for a total of 10 years) to expand access to high-quality preschool for the city’s three- and four-year-old children. The tax generates $15 million per year for this effort, and $33 million per year to strengthen K-12 education in the district. 

The measure’s approval created Cincinnati Preschool Promise, a program that uses the levy’s revenue to help low-income families afford tuition, boost the wages of early childhood educators, and increase the quality of preschools operating in the city.

As of 2023, Cincinnati Preschool Promise had provided tuition assistance to 9,878 three- and four-year-old children in both public preschool programs and preschool programs run by community providers. Most of the program’s funds have gone to expanding access to preschool, with over $53 million spent on tuition assistance.


Cincinnati Preschool Promise. (n.d.). What We Do.

Harris, R. (2022). Cincinnati Preschool Promise: “Where Every Kid Has Access to a High-Quality Preschool.” Children’s Funding Project.

Cincinnati Preschool Promise. (2023). Impact Report.

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

Stable, robust funding is essential to expanding and improving early education. Unlike K-12 education, early education has historically been supported through a fragmented – and largely insufficient – set of federal, state, and local funds. Research suggests there is a need for more accessible, affordable, and high-quality approach to early education across the mixed-delivery system – and for better financial and professional supports for the educators who serve children and families each day; creating dedicated funding streams can therefore help states and cities address these needs and achieve these goals.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:

  • Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
  • But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.
  • No one early education setting type is inherently of higher quality than another; children develop and learn well in every setting type, and in the study, all setting types showed room to grow in quality.
  • Early educators play a critical role in supporting the well-being of young children and families across setting types.
  • Yet their pay, benefits, and other professional supports are often inadequate in light of the job demands and their cost of living.
Learn more about ELS@H findings

Learn more about Cincinnati

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  • The city population is 311,097
  • The percentage of children under age 5 is 6.60%
  • The median household income is $49,191