Portland Children’s Levy

Dedicated Funding Streams & Financing

  • Taxes

Portland, Oregon

In 2002, voters first approved a levy to support early childhood education through property taxes. It was renewed in 2008 with the approval of 72 percent of voters, in 2013 with 74 percent, and in 2018 with 83 percent. The levy requests $0.4026 per $1,000 of assessed property value, generating approximately $27 million annually. Funds from the levy support citywide early childhood, after-school, mentoring, child abuse prevention/intervention, foster care, and hunger relief programs. In the 2021-22 grant cycle, the Children’s Levy devoted 27% of its funds, or $7.4 million,  to early learning – its largest concentration of investment by far.


League of Women Voters of Portland. (n.d.). Renew Portland Children’s Levy for five years.

The Oregonian Editorial Board. (2023). Editorial endorsement May 2023: Voters should renew Portland Children’s Levy and seek investment shift. The Oregonian.

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 Portland

Context matters. Visit the Portland profile page to learn more about the city landscape.

  • The city population is 635,067
  • The percentage of children under age 5 is 4.4%
  • The median family income among households with children is $111,300