Over the last decade the Denver Preschool Program (DPP) has evolved from an innovative concept to a national model for what a locally-funded high quality early childhood education program can be. It is a story of unwavering focus on the city’s commitment to ensuring every Denver 4-year-old gets the best possible start to his or her education. It is a story of community collaboration and commitment. It is a story of continuous learning, evolution and improvement. And it is a story of keeping our promises to our key partners, Denver’s families and early education providers.
DPP is a prime example of Colorado’s penchant of fostering innovation through investments in education. “We were one of the first communities in the country that said, we’re going to have a special tax, just for early childhood education,” said Janice Sinden, President and CEO of Denver Center for Performing Arts. Since 2006, that .15 percent sales tax has provided $92 million in tuition support to help more than 50,000 Denver children attend the quality-rated preschool of their families’ choice.
“You couldn’t have just any kind of education. It really needed to be quality. For some people who didn’t have any money to be able to afford it, [the Denver Preschool Program] was a true blessing.” – Anna Jo Haynes, President Emeritus of Mile High Early Learning
DPP’s impact has been undeniable. According to extensive evaluations, children who participate in DPP are more prepared and for kindergarten and thus future success inside and outside of the classroom. Governor John Hickenlooper can attest to that. Within the past 10 years, “50,000 kids have gotten a shot at a good life,” he said. Without DPP, “that would’ve been a much steeper hill to climb.”
Fortunately, Denver’s commitment to improving access to quality early education is ongoing. “The people of Denver have now once, or twice, stepped up and said, this is important enough for us to invest in,” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “Because we believe that ultimately, our future is embedded in these young people and their ability to hit the ground running. And I think that’s a powerful statement…I’m telling you that our future is brighter because of DPP, and really the investment the people of Denver have made, in the program.”