City of Cambridge Releases New Details about Free Universal Preschool (UPK) Initiative


5/23/20239 months ago

The City of Cambridge, in partnership with Cambridge Public Schools (CPS), is excited to share new information about Universal Preschool (also known as Universal Pre-K or UPK), which will be known as the Cambridge Preschool Program (CPP).

CPP is a publicly-funded program that will provide free school-day, school-year preschool to every 4-year-old and some 3-year-olds living in Cambridge. Overseen by the Cambridge Office of Early Childhood (OEC), CPP will introduce a single application for families to apply to a variety of preschool settings in Cambridge, including programs at CPS, the City of Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs (DHSP), and community-based programs. Families will have the option of selecting extended day and summer preschool programs for an additional cost.

The CPP universal application will launch this winter for enrollment in the 2024-2025 school year. Cambridge children who will be 4 years old by August 31, 2024 will be eligible to apply, as will children who will turn 3 years old by August 31, 2024 and who meet specific eligibility requirements.

The new universal application will replace CPS’s current 3-year-old lottery and Junior Kindergarten Lottery, the City’s DHSP Preschool Lottery, and the OEC’s scholarship application process. A separate lottery process will be held for Kindergarten enrollment.

The City continues to make significant investments in the Cambridge Preschool Program, including adding key staff members to support the initiative and an allocation of $10 million toward a stabilization fund to help mitigate the budget impact of implementing UPK, which is projected to be approximately $20 million to support City and community programs.

“I am excited to lead this effort in Cambridge, as we aim to be a national model for best practice in building early childhood systems,” said Dr. Lisa Grant, Office of Early Childhood Executive Director. “This model promises to center equity in access, deliver high quality programming, and prioritize early educator compensation and support; with unprecedented funding that will enable programs to deliver on those promises.”

“The City of Cambridge is committed to ensuring that every 4-year-old in Cambridge has access to high-quality education, and we are excited to make universal preschool a reality for our families in Fall 2024,” said Cambridge City Manager Yi-An Huang. “I’m grateful for the partnership of Cambridge Public Schools and the leadership of the Office of Early Childhood in bringing this significant investment in our families - and the future of Cambridge - to fruition.

“Every child in Cambridge deserves access to preschool regardless of their family’s income status,” said Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui. “Universal preschool has been a priority of my office, and for the City Council and School Committee, for many years. I look forward to the lasting impact of universal preschool on our community.”

“Delivering high-quality early learning experiences for our preschool students will be a game-changer for our families, and I am incredibly grateful for the community’s support as we move forward with this historic investment in our young people,” said Cambridge Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Victoria L. Greer.

For more information, and for future updates about the Cambridge Preschool Program, visit the Cambridge Office of Early Childhood’s website at www.earlychildhoodcambridge.org.