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Starting Strong is a network of early childhood educators, parents, service providers, health professionals, funders, business leaders, and other community members working together to ensure all children in Portland establish the building blocks for a lifetime of learning.

Starting Strong is the early age component of Portland ConnectED, a cradle-to-career initiative whose goal is that all young people graduate from high school and successfully transition to their next step.

With a focus on birth to age 8, Starting Strong’s top priority is to help children enter kindergarten ready to learn and reach reading proficiency by the end of third grade, a critical benchmark in assuring student success. Recognizing that the entire community plays a role in transforming children into educated, independent adults, Starting Strong partners with schools, parents, businesses, community organizations, and residents to ensure all Portland children have the opportunity to achieve our goal.

Starting Strong shares resources, combines efforts, and creates a community infrastructure that not only supports school readiness and reading, but also reduces barriers so that all children, regardless of race and socio-economic background, can attain their full educational potential. 

We are over 30 community partners actively engaged in this work with initiatives that include:

  • First4ME, a community-based approach to improving access to quality early care and education [insert link]
  • Advocacy efforts that promote children and families as a community priority, including our Portland Works for Kids campaign to address the short- and long-term aspects of the childcare crisis
  • Summer and after school programs that advance educational opportunities and support healthy social-emotional growth. See portlandyouth.org.