Philadelphia Beverage Tax

Dedicated Funding Streams & Financing

  • Taxes

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In 2017, Philadelphia implemented a sweetened beverage tax to fund the city’s Pre-K program. The tax charges distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages 1.5 cents per ounce. In its first year, it generated nearly $79 million in revenue, creating 2,000 pre-K slots. From 2017 to 2022, the tax generated $409 million for the city. Pre-K programs received $158.1 million, or 38.6% of that revenue.

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 Philadelphia

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  • The city population is 1,576,251
  • The percentage of children under age 5 is 6.40%
  • The median family income among households with children is $47,000