City of Cincinnati

 Property Tax

In November of 2016, Cincinnati voters approved Issue 44, a referendum to increase property taxes to allow a five-year, $48 million emergency levy of which $15 million is earmarked annually to expand quality preschool through Cincinnati Public Schools and community-based providers. In total, $75 million will be generated in public funding for the five-year project. In practice, homeowners with a house valued at $100,000 pay an additional $278 a year.

Three- and four-year-old children in Cincinnati


Children enter kindergarten unprepared


Voters Approving Issue 44

Community Events


Opposition from Anti-Tax Coalition

Coalition opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes did not support the Cincinnati Preschool Promise because the property tax rate increase was too high.

Challenges of System Change

Forming a broad coalition of business, labor, the school system, community providers and others who were being asked to be part of a major, systemic change proved challenging.

Getting to Action

Beginning in 2012, the Strive Partnership, a group of organizations that work together to change the system of education, launched the Cincinnati Preschool Promise, an advocacy and organizing effort to provide two years of quality preschool for every child.

The Cincinnati Preschool Promise partnered with over 60 organizations such as Leadership Cincinnati (regional Chamber of Commerce), Crossroads Community Church, and the business community to provide a comprehensive overview of the impact of preschool and recommendations for expansion in Cincinnati. This research, produced by the RAND Corporation, helped guide the implementation of the program. The report underscored the importance of trained and supported professionals to achieve and sustain quality.

Nearly 10,000 people in the community signed a pledge in support of the Cincinnati Preschool Promise.

2013A pilot Cincinnati Preschool Promise program was launched for 25 children to build
awareness and proof of concept.
2014Community outreach such as forums, house parties, town hall meetings, one-on-one
meetings, discussion with parents and providers and a website for feedback began a
two-year effort to gather input for the initiative.
2015Cincinnati Preschool Promise Steering Committee convened. Members included
a broad coalition of parents, educators, preschool providers, business and
community leaders.
Aug 2016The School Board voted to put the levy on the ballot.
Aug 2016United Way of Greater Cincinnati signed on as the agency to oversee the Cincinnati
Preschool Promise.
Nov 2016Issue 44 won approval with 62 percent of the vote, authorizing the expansion of
access for affordable, quality preschool through a unique partnership with the
Cincinnati Public Schools and the Cincinnati Preschool Promise. The program is
funded for five years.


Cincinnati Preschool Promise aims to build a system of quality preschools (public and community-based) that offers access to two years of high quality preschool for all three- and four-year olds. An agreement that details how the preschool expansion would work was signed between Cincinnati Preschool Promise, Cincinnati Public Schools and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati. Parents who qualify may enroll their child in a community-based preschool or a Cincinnati Public Schools preschool of their choice. Funding from the property tax referendum will expand the number of quality preschools and tuition assistance for families who need it most.

Keys to Success

The report by the RAND Corporation allowed for an independent agency to structure a financial roadmap for the program.

Successful pilot programs showed the viability of expansion across the City of Cincinnati.

Mobilization of the community and efforts to gather input with over 500 events varying from town hall meetings to house parties.

Strong support from the Cincinnati Enquirer editorial board.

Over 60 organizations in Cincinnati endorsed Issue 44 from the YMCA to congregations, the NAACP, unions and chambers of commerce.

The AMOS Project, a consortium of faith-based organizations that joined the Cincinnati Preschool Promise, registered nearly 30,000 new voters.