The Preschool for All victory is a story about partnership and SVP Portland recently hosted a national webinar to celebrate the Multnomah County process research findings. At this virtual event, research firm Dialogues in Action presented a summary of pathways leading to success and there was a Q&A with Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson and parent leader Lydia Gray-Holifield.
The Parent Accountability Council was one of the essential community groups that shaped the Preschool for All program and policy, centering parent voices to ensure that the program met parents’ needs for their children’s early learning. Lydia shared that one of their guiding principles was “nothing for us without us.” She advocates for other communities to emulate the collaborative nature of this policy development process, particularly by authentic engagement of parents from historically-marginalized communities. According to the Pathway to Success report, “through thoughtful structuring and deliberate advocacy, many of the BIPOC and culturally-diverse participants experienced the reception and affirmation of their voices with a corresponding increase in power and agency.”
Preschool for All Director Leslee Barnes concluded the webinar with enthusiasm about the implementation of Multnomah County Preschool for All, saying that she is looking forward to “lots of really innovative problem solving, building out an amazing team here at the county, and making sure that we continue to talk to parents and providers.”
Commissioner Vega Pederson thanked SVP “for being such incredible leaders and sharing such deep partnership every step of the way with Preschool for All, including all the work that went into creating this report.” She went on to say, “I think Social Venture Partners played a great role in bringing together the public and the private sectors for conversations with the community.”
The success of the Preschool for All campaign highlights thinking beyond the dogma of top-down philanthropy to build trust and credibility with the community. SVP Portland helped build relationships between parents, preschool providers, and community leaders, and collaborated with cross-sector allies to design the policy and drive the campaign. As SVP Portland Executive Director Lauren Johnson put it, “Our experiences can serve as a roadmap to other communities seeking to engage in community-based, participatory policy development.”
You can view the entire virtual presentation on our YouTube channel.