Louisville launching five-year plan for universal preschool Skip to content

Louisville launching five-year plan for universal preschool

“Thrive by 5” is a five-year plan to lead to every child in Metro Louisville being able to attend preschool.

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Photo by Nicole Leeper / Unsplash

Kentucky’s largest city took steps Tuesday to implement universal, free and optional preschool for its 3- and 4-year-old citizens. 

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg announced that a new nonprofit called Thrive by 5 Louisville will work over the next five years with both public and private dollars to get children in the city better prepared for kindergarten by providing grants to providers and assistance to families. 

To kick this off, Greenberg said he will be asking Metro Council in his April budget proposal for funding in the “high seven figures.” 

Greenberg is also hopeful state, federal and private philanthropic dollars will help make the vision a reality. Gov. Andy Beshear proposed in his December budget that the state spend $172 million to begin funding universal preschool for Kentucky’s 4-year-olds. 

Thrive by 5, separate from the Louisville government, will work in these phases, Greenberg announced: 

  • Phase 1: During the first one to two years, which will “begin immediately,” Thrive by 5 will be staffed. It will then establish “pilot participation” with preschools, child care centers and family child care homes. During this phase, the nonprofit will also create an online resource hub for parents, which they can use to learn about eligibility. It will focus, Greenberg said, on getting “early learning professionals hired, trained, supported and compensated at a level that allows them to do the incredibly important work that we know we need them to do.”  
  • Phase 2: During the third and fourth years, which should begin in about a year, Thrive by 5 will launch financial assistance for families who earn less than 300% of the federal poverty lLevel (FPL) so their 4-year-olds can attend preschool. This eligibility marker comes out to $93,600 for a family of four. “Using that threshold, there will be thousands of hard working families across our city in every metro council district who will have a much easier time accessing high quality preschool for their children,” Greenberg said. 
  • Phase 3: During the fifth years and beyond, Thrive by 5 will expand financial assistance eligibility “to more Louisville children.” 

In statements Tuesday, several Louisville lawmakers praised Greenberg’s plan. 

Republican Sen. Julie Raque-Adams said it “will benefit our kids, our workforce and our economy.” 

“Louisville’s children deserve the best and by supporting early learning we increase their chance at long-term success,” said Raque-Adams.

Democrat Rep. Josie Raymond said that “early childhood education is the best solution we have to disrupt cycles of generational poverty and create opportunity.”  

Thrive by 5 will be overseen by a board of directors, which Ashley Novak Butler, the executive director of the Lift a Life Novak Family Foundation, will chair. 

She said Tuesday that she wants to “strengthen our current early learning ecosystem while working to build additional resources needed to create access to high quality learning environments for children.”  

Research shows early childhood education has positive impacts on children’s health, cognition and more.

Louisville Metro Council member Phillip Baker, said that universal pre-kindergarten “embodies the very essence of progress and equality.” 

“Imagine a future where every child in Louisville, regardless of their background, regardless of their circumstance, has access to high quality early childhood education,” he said. “Picture the potential, the possibilities that unfold when we invest in the youngest leaders and learners. This is not merely a dream. It’s a vision that we all in this room and outside this room can turn into a reality.”  

The investment is costly but worth it, he said. 

“Some may say, ‘how do we afford such an ambitious endeavor?’” he said. “To them I (say), ‘how can we afford not to?’”

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Written by Sarah Ladd. Cross-posted from the Kentucky Lantern.



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Kentucky Lantern

The Kentucky Lantern is an independent, nonpartisan, free news service. We’re based in Frankfort a short walk from the Capitol, but all of Kentucky is our beat.

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