Boise Pre-K Project

This innovative approach brings public and private partners together to offer free public preschool.


Early childhood education has been identified as a key turning point and catalyst for academic, social/emotional and eventually community economic success. Preschool early learning is an important strategy to improve livability for all.

The Boise Pre-K Project is part of a dynamic strategy in the Vista Neighborhood that is receiving national attention for its innovative approach. With Energize Our Neighborhoods, the City of Boise is using data as a road map to align and leverage public and private investments to increase economic activity, provide additional services and create measurable change at a neighborhood level.

Through this initiative, the City of Boise identified early childhood gaps as an issue. Research shows Boise’s at-risk children who don’t receive a high-quality early childhood education are:


More likely to drop out of school


More likely to become a teen parent


More likely to be placed in special education


More likely to never attend college

Kids who are prepared upon entering school are statistically more likely to be successful readers, have better social and emotional health, are more likely to graduate from high school, and go on to post-secondary education. They are less likely to commit crime as juveniles and adults, and are poised to become better citizens. 


  • Reduce achievement gaps for incoming Kindergartners.
  • Follow participants through 3rd grade to assess the investment’s impact.
  • Enhance Neighborhood livability through education investments.
  • Use project results to spark discussions about early childhood investments.

Project Approach

The Boise Pre-K Project is a partnership between the City of Boise, the Boise School District, and committed Community Partners to provide high-quality preschool in the Vista Neighborhood.

High-Quality and Professional

Starting in November 2015, the Boise School District operates the program at Whitney and Hawthorne schools. Lead teachers at both schools have at minimum a Bachelor’s degree with a Pre-K through 3rd grade endorsement.


Children are selected to participate from the neighborhood based on income qualification.


  • Kindergartners will be at “benchmark”
  • 3rd graders who participated in the Boise Pre-K Project will ultimately perform better

Idaho Reading Indicator

Early Results

Eighty-three percent of preschool students who left the program at Hawthorne and Whitney elementaries to attend kindergarten in 2016 showed they were ready to learn to read, compared with 50 percent of students who were not enrolled in the preschool program.

Boise State University Idaho Policy Institute: Boise Pre-K Program Evaluation 2017

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