Universal Preschool (UPK) Colorado will begin for the 2023-2024 school year with every 4-year-old eligible for up to 15 hours of voluntary, free preschool programming in their year before kindergarten. Denver Preschool Program (DPP) is pleased to be Denver’s Local Coordinating Organization (LCO) for Colorado UPK. This means that DPP will continue to be a proven and trusted ally for child care providers and families located in Denver as they navigate the UPK Colorado enrollment process.
With this in mind, DPP has created a UPK Colorado toolkit with easy access to key resources. Whether you are a community member, partner, provider, or parent, our hope is that this toolkit makes it easy for you to understand UPK Colorado and share information with others.
Approved by Colorado voters in 2020, UPK Colorado is brand new. As with any new program or initiative, unanticipated challenges can arise. As Denver’s LCO, DPP is committed to being a voice for Denver providers and families to help ensure UPK Colorado best meets your needs. We are excited about this funding stream from the state, because, coupled with DPP tuition credits, many families in Denver will receive financial support to meet their child’s preschool needs.
As the effects of UPK Colorado may be different for some than families in other areas of the state, DPP has outlined some of the top questions and answers below.
Important UPK Colorado Questions and Answers
What’s the difference between DPP and UPK Colorado?
UPK Colorado is a new initiative available to families statewide beginning in the 2023-24 school year. DPP, on the other hand, has been helping ensure every child in Denver enters Kindergarten ready to reach their full potential for the past 16 years. DPP is the non-profit administrator of the City’s dedicated .15 percent sales tax. DPP champions, funds, and expands access to high-quality preschool for ALL Denver families, regardless of income or neighborhood.
How does DPP complement UPK Colorado and improve access to high-quality preschool?
DPP tuition credits will continue to be available to Denver families and can be layered into UPK Colorado funding to increase a family’s tuition savings. Families in Denver may benefit from added DPP tuition credits if:
- Their child will be attending preschool more than 15 hours/week
- Their child will be in preschool year-round, including summer months, as UPK Colorado does not cover preschool expenses over the summer.
How do I maximize the benefits of UPK Colorado and DPP for my family?
- Apply for UPK Colorado at: upk.colorado.gov
- Enroll in a participating preschool
- Apply for DPP tuition credits at dpp.org or by calling 303-595-4377
Note that for families applying for DPS SchoolChoice, you will need to first apply on the DPS SchoolChoice website at https://dps.schoolmint.net/, prior to applying for UPK Colorado.
How do I know if a UPK Colorado provider is also a DPP provider?
To ensure that a UPK Colorado provider is also a DPP provider:
- Search for UPK Colorado providers on upk.colorado.gov. You can scroll down to the lower left-hand side of the page and select “browse providers.” You can then input your criteria.
- Once you locate providers who are participating in UPK Colorado, then visit DPP’s provider search page at find.dpp.org. Input the provider you are looking for in the “search” bar located on the upper right side of the homepage. If a provider is on both the UPK Colorado site and DPP’s site, it means they offer both UPK Colorado and DPP tuition credits.
What is the difference between how UPK Colorado is funded and how DPP is funded?
- UPK Colorado is funded through Proposition EE, a voter-approved nicotine tax measure that passed in November 2020 for implementation starting in the fall of 2023.
- Funding through DPP is paid for by the .15 percent city sales tax, which was approved by Denver voters in 2006 and reauthorized in 2014 to extend to 2026. DPP is a complement to UPK Colorado as many Denver families will be able to receive additional hours and have their preschool needs met fully.
How do I apply for DPS? Is the process different this year?
New in 2023 to facilitate the roll-out of UPK Colorado, Denver Public Schools (DPS) changed its application and enrollment process. Therefore, families seeking preschool through DPS must complete both the DPS and UPK applications to enroll in a DPS ECE program. Fortunately, for DPS families, DPP tuition credits are automatically included in this application process and a separate DPP application is not required.
For ECE 4, families must follow the below steps:
- Apply on the DPS SchoolChoice website at https://dps.schoolmint.net/ between January 13 and February 21 for Round 1 (closes at 4:00 pm). Please note that applications will be accepted after February 21 but not considered part of the first round of matching. You will not select schools here– your choices will not be recorded unless you complete the next step.
- Apply on the UPK website between January 17 and February 24 to select the schools to which you would like to apply. Applications for UPK Colorado will be accepted after February 24 but not considered part of the first round of matching.
You will be matched with a DPS program based on your selections on the UPK Colorado application and based on matching priorities defined by state policy.
For ECE 3, families must follow the below steps:
- Apply on the DPS SchoolChoice website at https://dps.schoolmint.net/ between January 13 and February 24 for Round 1 (closes at 4:00 pm). Please note that applications will be accepted after February 24 but not considered part of the first round of matching. Select up to 12 programs to which you would like to apply.
- Apply on the UPK website between January 17 and February 24 to see if you’re eligible for additional funding. Applications for UPK Colorado will be accepted after February 24 but not considered part of the first round of matching.
You will be matched with a DPS program based on your selections on the DPS SchoolChoice application.
Additional information specific to DPS can be found on their website here.