CPB’s commitment in 2009 to promote greater innovation and diversity in public media resulted in establishing (during 2010) a $20 million Diversity and Innovation Fund, to be spent over two years to support the PBS National Program Service. Recognizing that innovation is central to the goal of attracting younger, more racially and ethnically diverse viewers and content creators, the fund will encourage the use of new and emerging technology across four content areas: television-centered, multiplatform content; digital initiatives; education initiatives; and gaming.
The fund is managed like a venture capital investment fund: investing seed money, providing incentives for partnership, analyzing return on investment, and analyzing impact. Most fund-supported projects are to be chosen from responses to formal requests for proposals (RFPs)—with guidelines posted on the CPB and PBS Web sites—rather than “over-the-transom” pitches. The first RFP asked for proposals in a variety of popular genres, including science, history, travel, natural history, which will explore digital “beyond broadcast” strategies that may include Web presence, mobile applications, social media, and inclusion in the Digital Learning Library and/or the PBS Teachers service.