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Creating a Bigger Pie: Allies Share State Revenue-Generating Strategies for Early Childhood Programs


In October, the Alliance for Early Success was joined by the Children’s Funding Project for an important conversation about funding streams. As we begin to think beyond COVID relief funding and about a future where early childhood programs are better and more sustainably funded, it will be important to consider all of the revenue streams possible. We discussed ways to advocate for both a bigger slice—and a bigger pie.   

Early Childhood Funding Presentation at Alliance for Early Success

Missed the live discussion? No worries. 

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Elizabeth Gaines, Founder and Executive Director of the Children’s Funding Project led a conversation about why now is the time to create a bigger pie of funding for early childhood, and how we get it done in the current environment.

Elizabeth kicked off the conversation with a core message: By raising public revenue, we can “grow the pie” of funding for equitable, high-quality early childhood opportunities.

Though much of the early childhood field has approached funding with a scarcity mindset for years, the United States is a country of abundant wealth (billionaires alone gained $845 billion dollars during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic), and now is the time for early childhood advocates to leverage untapped revenue sources. 

Elizabeth briefly outlined the range of both common and innovative revenue sources that may be leveraged to #growthepie and shared three resources.

Acknowledging that leveraging a new source of revenue might feel daunting, Elizabeth shared examples of federal and state polling data indicating that efforts to #growthepie are backed by enthusiastic bipartisan support from voters:


What does it mean to create a bigger pie of funding for early childhood?

Elizabeth was joined by the following panelists, who shared stories and strategies from their work to expand the pie for early childhood:

Kenny Francis (Director, Policy and Advocacy, Agenda for Children) spoke about the strategies of Agenda For Children’s Campaign and why now is the time to implement them! The coalition is pursuing a revenue stream that will be sustained for 3-years for the New Orleans City Seats program. Read more from Kenny here.

Ruth Schmidt (Executive Director, Wisconsin Early Childhood Association) shared the process that the Wisconsin Infant and Toddler Policy Project and broad coalition of participants have undertaken. This project acts as an example of one roadmap to successfully growing the pie:

Phase 1: Fiscal Mapping – assess which activities are currently being funded within the implementation plan and to what degree

Phase 2: Cost Modeling and Gap Analysis – To place a price tag on a) the cost of scaling currently funded activities, and b) the cost of developing activities that do not currently exist or are not currently funded

Phase 3: Revenue Options and Strategic Financing – To identify potential revenue generating mechanisms, traditional and innovative, to cover the costs of scaling and funding activities in the implementation plan

Bill Jaeger (Vice President, Early Childhood & Policy Initiatives, Colorado Children’s Campaign) shared the history of Measure EE – the statewide ballot measure that will ask Colorado voters to increase tobacco taxes and close the vaping loophole this November. The tax revenue will go to tobacco prevention and cessation programs and to shielding k-12 schools from deep budget cuts, and then will transition to funding statewide universal free preschool in fall 2023. Visit A Brighter, Healthier Future for Colorado’s Kids to learn more. Bill also discussed Colorado’s recent passage of state-level legislation enabling the creation of Early Childhood Development Special Taxing Districts. Read more about state-enabling legislation for child- and youth-focused special taxing districts here

Olivia Allen (Assistant Director of Strategy, Children’s Funding Project) gave a quick overview of the many local measures on the November 3 ballot that would levy and dedicate public revenue at least in part to early childhood. Keep an eye on these ballot measures on election day next week: Preschool for All, Multnomah County, OR; Keep Pre-K 4 SA, San Antonio, TX; Yes on X!, San Joaquin, CA; Escambia Children’s Trust, Escambia, FL; Our Kids First, Leon County, FL; Issue #17 Yes for CPS, Cincinnati, OH; Yes on Prop R, City of St. Louis, MO. Together these 8 ballot measures could generate $556 million annually. Then come back for more on December 5 when New Orleans voters decide Citywide Millage Proposition #2 –

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