OVERVIEW: For a PowerPoint overview of the PCL, click here for the PDF.
In November 2002 Portland voters approved the Children's Levy; six years later in Fall 2008, the city electorate overwhelmingly renewed the Levy for another five years. In May 2013, Portland again voted in favor of a five-year renewal, this time by a 74-percent margin. The new Levy will begin July 2014, with a new focus on alleviating childhood hunger. The Request for Investment was released d Jan. 16th, 2014, with funding decisions made in June 2014. For more information on the new funding round, go here.
The Levy is a city of Portland program that generates $10 million annually through a property tax of $0.4026 per $1,000 assessed valuation, or about $60 a year for a home with an assessed value of $150,000. After a competitive grant process in 2009, 84 programs were selected for three-year grants totaling $37 millilon.
In Spring 2012, the Levy was forced to make steep reductions of $3.5 million to grantees as the result of reduced revenues due to a depressed housing market and compression of city property taxes collections brought about by lower real market property values. Because of this, 12 investments were discontinued and reductions to existing grantees ranged from 4 percent to 50 percent.
Currently, 57 PCL-funded programs improve the lives of nearly 10,000 of Portland's neediest children age birth through 24 and their families each year. Levy goals are:
The Overall Goals for PCL:
--Prepare children for school.
--Support children's success inside and outside of school.
--Reduce racial and ethnic disparities in children's well-being and school success.
Goals for Program Areas:
Support children's early development and readiness for kindergarten.
Child Abuse Prevention/Intervention
Prevent child abuse and neglect and support vulnerable families.
Support the well-being and development of children and youth in foster care.
Provide safe and constructive after-school and summer programming that supports children's well-being and school success.
Connect children and youth with caring adult role models that support their well-being.
Expand access to healthy, nutritious food for hungry children.
An Allocation Committee governs the Portland Children's Levy. The Allocation Committee is comprised of Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who serves as the Chair; Multnomoah County Commission Acting Chair Marissa Madrigal; Julie S. Young, a long-time youth advocate; Serena Stoudamire-Wesley, community volunteer and activist; and Mitch Hornecker, a business leader who represents the Portland Business Alliance.
The Portland Children's Levy grew out of a need to support services that help at-risk children avoid negative outcomes such as:
- Poor health, poor academic performance and failure to complete high school.
- Juvenile delinquency, substance abuse and teen pregnancy.
- Violent crime, including child abuse and neglect.
At least 50 percent of the children currently participating in the Portland Children's Levy programs live in poverty or extreme poverty with a household income at or below the Federal Poverty Level of $20,000 for a family of four.
Programs applying for funding must have a track record of success, and demonstrate they are cost effective and achieve positive results for children. These services are designed to break the cycle of poverty many Portland families face by building community connections that lay a foundation for a stronger, safer, healthier Portland.
Research shows that children from low-income families, especially those with poorly educated parents and lack of adequate health care, are much more likely to experience negative outcomes such as dropping out of school or engaging in high-risk behavior with drugs and alcohol. These poor choices not only hurt children, but also impact the city in terms of producing higher rates of crime, homelessness and substance abuse as well as higher costs to society to deal with those issues.
Effective programs that address children's needs in early childhood, child abuse prevention and intervention, mentoring and quality after-school activities all help children live healthy lives. The Portland Children's Levy supports these programs in an effort to build a safe and caring community for Portland's children and families.
A Quick Glimpse of what we've been up to (2013-14):
- Annual investments made: $2.8 million in Early Childhood; $1.3 million in After School; $1 million in Mentoring, $1.7 million in Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention; and $1.2 million in Foster Care.
- Portland Children's Levy administrative costs have been kept under 5 percent.
- 95 cents of every dollar goes directly into proven children's programs throughout the city.
- Funded organizations must have a track record of success, demonstrate cost effectiveness and achieve positive results for children.
- Portland Children's Levy is annually audited.
- Childhood Hunger Relief will become new funding category in July 2014.