UPK Program

Cuyahoga County’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program


In 2016, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish made it a priority to expand the county’s successful UPK program, and committed $10 million in new public dollars to fund the expansion. An additional $12.8 million in private funding was raised with the leadership of PNC Regional President Paul Clark, demonstrating our community’s strong support of the initiative. Providing high-quality preschool to County children is core to our strategic priority that:

Every child is ready for school on the first day of Kindergarten.

One of the primary goals of UPK 2.0 was to increase spots for Cuyahoga County children from 2500 to 4500. In August of 2017, County Executive Armond Budish and PNC President Paul Clark announced success. Current spots available are more than 4600 seats throughout the county.

For the county’s lower income families -- those at or below 200 % of the federal poverty level -- tuition assistance will be increased from the current one-third of the parent fee to fully half. (see if you qualify)

The UPK expansion work has identified 37 new sites that will join the program with the start of the 2017-18 school year.

Find a High-Quality UPK Preschool at Cuyahogakids.org.

Cuyahoga County agency Invest in Children is the lead for our nationally recognized Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) program. Originally, the program was launched in 2007 following a year-long planning process that involved over 100 stakeholders from school districts, business, child care, philanthropy, and government.

UPK’s enduring goals came out of this community process:

We will:
  • Create a new gold standard of high-quality preschool in our community
  • Make this very high quality experience accessible to low and moderate income families
  • Improve school readiness among disadvantaged children.

Since launch, two independent UPK evaluations have documented our positive impact on school readiness:
  • Children who entered the Cleveland Metropolitan School District from UPK sites scored an average of 3 points higher on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment for Literacy, which translates into a 36% greater chance of passing the Third Grade Reading Assessment.
  • The Bracken School Readiness Assessment administered at the beginning and end of the school year documented that the most disadvantaged children made the largest gains in skills--a finding mirrored in other UPK programs across the country.