Local Policy News

Voters Approve Progressive Universal Preschool policy in Multnomah County, OR

November 2020

Philanthropic partners are celebrating voter approval of a tax measure to fund one of the most progressive universal preschool policies in Multnomah County, OR – where Portland is located.

The Preschool for All program will provide free preschool for three- and four-year-olds in the county, as well as raise wages for preschool teachers—most of whom are women and, disproportionately, women of color. It will be funded by a marginal income tax on high income earners.

The Portland chapter of Social Venture Partners was a major player in Preschool for All initiative, co-chairing the planning taskforce with County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, and incubating early strands of planning and assessment via staff and volunteer partner efforts over several years.

Oregon Community Foundation, United Way of Columbia-Willamette and a number of other foundations, individual donors and donor advised funds supported planning costs (which included amplifying the capacity of local community-based organizations serving communities of color to participate and bring parent voice to the table).

The new initiative is being hailed as a top takeaway for women in the 2020 election, and is making national and international news.

Learn more:

  • County Commissioner Jessica Vega-Pederson speaks with Stephen Quinn of CBC Listen (Canada) about the successful proposition (Nov 5, 2020) [Podcast]
  • Parents can’t afford day care and preschool: Oregon voters are giving it to kids for free, USA Today, November 15, 2020 [Article]
  • What this Oregon county’s “preschool for all” victory means for child care in America, Vox, November 4, 2020 [Article]

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