Seattle Foundation Blog

Best Starts for Kids Levy Passes

In the wake of Seattle Foundation’s first-ever endorsement of a ballot measure, King County voters approve groundbreaking early investment in children


November 09, 2015

Driven by the strong conviction that early investment in our children is the most powerful step we can take to build a strong, vibrant community, Seattle Foundation endorsed Best Starts for Kids tax levy in October. The endorsement marked the first time the Foundation has taken a position on a ballot initiative in its nearly 70-year history. Today, that measure, which appeared on the ballot as King County Proposition 1, is passing with a nearly 56 percent approval rate.

Seattle Foundation has a long track record of philanthropic support for the early learning, intervention and place-based programs championed in Best Starts for Kids. The goal of these programs is to improve outcomes for kids and families through cost-effective early investment, and reduce long-term health care and criminal justice costs that hurt our community and create long-term harm for parents and children alike. Most importantly, Best Starts for Kids is an investment in helping all children reach their full potential.

“The only way we can create better educational and life outcomes for our children is to create supportive environments at every stage of their development,” said Tony Mestres, president and CEO of Seattle Foundation. “This support is even more critical in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, where Best Starts for Kids will help create greater equality of opportunity and help guide children on a path toward long-term success.”

“Seattle Foundation is endorsing this ballot measure because investing in our community is at the heart of what we do, and the smartest and most responsible investment we can make is in the future of our kids,” he said.

The first of its kind initiative will fund a set of proven prevention and early intervention strategies, driven by science, to ensure that all children can develop the cognitive, emotional and social skills necessary to succeed in life. The six-year tax levy will:

  • Invest heavily in a child’s first five years, starting with prenatal services.

  • Invest at key developmental milestones on a child’s journey to adulthood.

  • Create healthy communities, in partnership with Seattle Foundation, that support strong families, reinforce progress and sustain the gain.

This innovative approach will include developmental disability screenings, tools for parents and teachers to identify behavioral and mental health challenges, as well as early intervention investments to prevent crime, drug use, school dropouts and other problems. It seeks to break the connection between incomes and outcomes, and reverse demand for high-cost, crisis-focused services.

Best Starts for Kids also expands on the Communities of Opportunity initiative, a neighborhood-focused partnership between Seattle Foundation and King County that supports community-identified goals to increase equity—health, social, racial and economic—across the county. Communities of Opportunity is currently working in the Rainier Valley, SeaTac/Tukwila and White Center areas.

“The Seattle Foundation has been supporting children and healthy communities for years with programs to help kids stay in school and on track for success, and we’re looking forward to expanding that great work with Best Starts for Kids. Communities of Opportunity and other proven programs help children thrive in school and life, and we’re glad to have Seattle Foundation’s help and support for Best Starts for Kids,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

In addition to Seattle Foundation, Best Starts for Kids was endorsed by a wide-range of community organizations including Boys & Girls Clubs of King County, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, The Seattle Times, YMCA of Greater Seattle and YWCA among others.

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