United Way of Greater Cincinnati (UWGC) will help oversee a major expansion of affordable, quality preschool in Cincinnati if voters approve a 5-year, 7.93-mill levy request for Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) in November, it was jointly announced by CPS, UWGC and Cincinnati Preschool Promise.
Selected by the district through a request-for-proposals process, United Way of Greater Cincinnati will manage disbursement of $15 million annually for preschool – in CPS and through community-based providers – of the $48 million annual revenues that would be generated by the levy. CPS will retain overall fiscal responsibility and accountability to the taxpayers.
United Way and several other community organization have officially endorsed the levy, which will be Issue 44 on the ballot.
“We are extremely pleased that a local non-profit organization of the stature, credibility and expertise of United Way has agreed to take on this important role in extending preschool in our community, starting with the most economically disadvantaged families,” said CPS Superintendent Mary Ronan. “Currently, more than 40 percent of CPS kindergartners are not ready to learn when they start school, and research shows that quality preschool can make a huge impact in improving those outcomes.”
UWGC, which manages $60 million in community investments and programs as the 6th largest United Way fundraising organization in the nation, will establish a nonprofit preschool expansion organization to operate the program and also will seek private fundraising support for preschool expansion. A governing board will be created with diverse representatives of the community, such as parents, businesses, labor, community organizations, faith-based organizations, and local service providers.
“United Way of Greater Cincinnati is excited to be named the trusted entity to support the work of Cincinnati Public Schools and Cincinnati Preschool Promise to expand access to affordable, quality preschool to thousands of area children,” said Rob Reifsnyder, president, United Way of Greater Cincinnati. “We know that children who arrive at kindergarten prepared are more likely to perform at third-grade reading level and thus go on to graduate high school and beyond. This work will be challenging, but is critical in continuing progress to achieving the Bold Goals for our region and lifting thousands of children and families out of poverty. We appreciate the district’s confidence in United Way of Greater Cincinnati as a partner in this effort.”
“UWGC represents the type of trustworthiness and long-lasting commitment, care and concern for children in this region necessary to carry this initiative forward,” said Ozie Davis, Cincinnati Preschool Promise Co-Chair.
Through the levy, a major expansion of preschool would be combined with needed investments in a strong K-12 educational system. These include focusing funds on excellent teaching and programming to ensure that all schools are high-performing; additional classroom technology to bridge the digital divide; and expansion of college and career-readiness programs to better prepare students for success in the workforce.
The November levy request is based on the findings and recommendations of an independent financial review of CPS, commissioned by the Cincinnati business community. CPS has not had an additional operating levy in eight years, and the business community’s review confirmed that without additional revenue, the district faces tens of millions of dollars in cuts to staff, programs and essential educational services, and the plan for expansion of preschool would not be possible.
Want to get involved in supporting Issue 44 by making calls to voters or going door-to-door canvassing? Check out all the ways you can volunteer to help support the levy.