PHILADELPHIA: Yesterday, Mayor Jim Kenney joined students, parents, site directors, early childhood educators, and others in City Hall to highlight the success of PHLpreK and to celebrate the release of a newly published PHLpreK By the Numbers review. 

PHLpreK provides free, quality preschool to the city’s 3- and 4-year-olds. Launched in 2017, the program is funded by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax and has served 17,000 students.

As I look back on the last eight years as Mayor of this great city, I can say without a doubt that the investments we have made in education bring me the most joy and the most pride,” said Mayor Kenney. “In pre-K alone, we have invested almost $500 million over the last eight years, benefiting students, families, educators and local businesses. Quality pre-K prepares children for long-term success and I know that our city’s future is brighter because thousands of children and their families participate in PHLpreK every year.” 

There were many numbers to celebrate at Monday’s event: PHLpreK has grown to fund 5,250 free, quality, full-day pre-K seats at over 230 locations across 43 Philadelphia ZIP Codes this year. 

Leaders also touted the program’s commitment to equity and accessibility. During the program’s first five years, enrollment has increased in communities across the city, but the most significant increase over time in providers and seat growth occurred in neighborhoods with predominantly Black and Hispanic residents.

Deputy Mayor Vanessa Garrett Harley, of the Office of Children and Families, acknowledged the many site providers in the room, parents in attendance, and students who visited from Wonderspring Child Care and Computer Kidz Learning Center. 

Dr. Leslie Spina, owner of Kinder Academy, spoke on behalf of PHLpreK-funded providers. Dr. Loretta Jemmott, a vice president and professor at Drexel University who co-chaired the Philadelphia Commission on Universal Prekindergarten, remarked on the years-long pursuit to secure universal preschool and make quality learning opportunities for 3- and 4-year-olds more convenient and affordable for families. 

Mayor Kenney stressed the program’s impact on one mom, as an example of how the program gives parents and caregivers more time and freedom to advance their career or pursue further training and education.

“She started as a clerk but is now a Director at the Defenders Association of Philadelphia because both her children went through PHLpreK,” he said. “She earned a Bachelor’s degree, an MBA, and a Master’s in Education during that time.”

Mayor Kenney concluded, Over the last eight years, this city has faced numerous challenges and hardships. But whenever I need to see joy, happiness, and smiling faces, I always schedule a visit to one of our preschool centers. This is our future, and I am proud of what we created. I know our city is in good hands.”

PHLpreK is the City of Philadelphia’s free, quality pre-K program that gives children a solid educational foundation. Funded by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, PHLpreK is helping families across Philadelphia access affordable, quality early childhood education opportunities. To sign up for PHLpreK, interested families can call (844) PHL-PREK or visit to find a current provider and enroll.