CPB Media Room

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS Partner with Five Public Media Stations to Support Early Learning in Low-Income Communities with New Digital Content

  • April 1, 2013

Programs at five public television stations will train teachers and families to use educational content developed through the Ready To Learn Initiative

Washington, D.C. – The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS KIDS today announced that they have partnered with five PBS stations to provide educational multimedia content to low-income communities. CPB awarded a total of $444,222 to these stations to test the effectiveness of digital content developed through Ready To Learn (RTL), a cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, to support the development of early math and literacy skills for children ages 2-8 in low-income families.

Over the next year, five public television stations – Nashville Public Television (Nashville, Tenn.), Louisiana Public Broadcasting (Baton Rouge, La.), KLRU (Austin, Texas), New Mexico PBS (Albuquerque, N.M.) and PBS SoCal (Santa Ana, Calif.) – will serve as demonstration sites to implement RTL content with children, teachers and families. These stations will collaborate with educational partners in school, after-school, and summer settings, training educators in their communities to use RTL content with their students and teaching parents how to engage their children in math and literacy activities at home using a range of technologies, including computers, smart phones, tablets, and television.

Of the more than 25 million American children under the age of six, 46 percent live in low-income households. Research shows that these children most often struggle with early math and literacy skills that could lead to them falling behind in school. Working together under the RTL program, CPB, PBS KIDS and public television stations nationwide are supporting the development of dynamic new content – including television series, interactive games, mobile apps and hands-on activities in the community – that encourages learning and gives all children an equal opportunity to succeed in school.

“As America’s largest classroom, public media is an important contributor to our country’s ongoing effort to provide children, no matter what their background, with the opportunity to enter the classroom with a strong foundation in math and literacy,” said Debra Sanchez, senior vice president of education and children’s content at CPB. “This latest Ready To Learn Initiative builds on public media’s history in education and our ability to engage with local communities to ensure that our content provides effective educational experiences for children, teachers and families.”

"PBS KIDS is committed to using the power of media to encourage our nation’s youngest citizens to explore and learn about the world around them, and through the Ready To Learn Initiative, we are building on this effort by developing and distributing content across platforms to help support early math and literacy learning,” said Lesli Rotenberg, general manager, Children’s Programming, PBS. “PBS stations are vital partners in this, as they work in their local communities to provide PBS KIDS’ educational and engaging content to families who need it most.”

Nashville Public Television (funding amount: $53,516), together with Nashville Promise Neighborhood (NPN) – a collaborative network of services working together to create an effective cradle-to-career continuum of services for the children and their families in the community – will provide RTL resources to schools, homes and community centers in East Nashville to help encourage increased online learning through quality educational games and activities.

Louisiana Public Broadcasting (funding amount: $113,084) will partner with ExxonMobil, ExxonMobil YMCA, three Title I elementary schools (Ryan, Progress, and Crestworth), Progress Head Start, Scotlandville and Delmont Center community libraries, the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge, and Entergy of Louisiana to plan and implement a community-based math and literacy program focused on interactive and engaging learning events for students and their families.

KLRU-TV in Austin, Texas (funding amount: $109,318) will provide RTL content and resources at two sites in the community: SafePlace, which provides residential services to victims of family violence; and Foundation Communities, which offers housing and family-centered educational services to low-income families. The station will train highly qualified educators/education service providers to use RTL content so they can support the children and families who use these sites. Through large, family-focused community events, KLRU will also demonstrate RTL to other community educators/education service providers, children, and parents/caregivers in the Austin area and will survey participating educators, children and families to measure satisfaction with the project and to determine anticipated gains in learning.

New Mexico PBS (funding amount: $94,048) will pilot the use of RTL content at Manzano Mesa Elementary School in Albuquerque. The program will leverage support from grant projects and partners at the school to increase out-of-school learning options for students. The station will also host a PBS KIDS Lab afterschool program for parents and students in grades K-3 and their pre-K siblings. Students in grades four and five will serve as mentors in the Lab. New Mexico PBS plans to expand the pilot program to other schools in community.

PBS SoCal (funding amount: $74,196) will create partnerships with local early childhood learning programs in low-income neighborhoods of Orange County and Los Angeles to distribute bilingual learning materials, provide access to technology through a mobile learning lab, train teachers and parents in the use of RTL content, and host events to promote early learning and school readiness. PBS SoCal’s partners include the Boys and Girls Clubs, Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP), THINK Together, and CARACEN.

These stations will build on best practices developed by an initial group of 11 public television stations that, over the last year, pioneered the introduction of interactive math and literacy content and games for children with low-income backgrounds. Results from those initial 11 demonstration sites, together with these additional new five stations, will provide the Ready To Learn program with a better understanding of how public media stations can collaborate more effectively with local educators, parents, caregivers, and community partners to advance children’s learning.

Lead outreach partners in this CPB-PBS Ready To Learn Initiative, including the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) and the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (CBASS), will provide technical assistance to the five demonstration sites as they begin using PBS KIDS resources in out-of-school learning settings, which boosts learning time for children who need it most.

Ready To Learn, funded by Congress and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted at preschool and early elementary school children and their families. Its goal is to promote early learning and school readiness, with a particular interest in reaching low-income children.

CPB and PBS received funding from RTL in 2010 to focus on math, continue early literacy projects and develop innovative new teaching and learning tools over a five-year period. CPB and PBS were the recipients of previous five-year RTL funding in 2005 to develop children’s programming with an emphasis on early literacy skills. Research and findings conducted on the content created under this program are available here.

The demonstration sites’ projects are funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education.

About PBS KIDS PBS KIDS, the number one educational media brand for kids, offers all children the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television, online, mobile and community-based programs. Kidscreen- and Webby-award winning pbskids.org provides engaging interactive content, including the PBS KIDS video player, now offering free streaming video accessible on computer- and mobile-device-based browsers. For more information on specific PBS KIDS content supporting literacy, science, math and more, visit pbs.org/pressroom, or follow PBS KIDS on Twitter and Facebook.

About The Ready To Learn Initiative The Ready To Learn Initiative is a cooperative agreement funded and managed by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement. It supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted at preschool and early elementary school children and their families. Its general goal is to promote early learning and school readiness, with a particular interest in reaching low-income children. In addition to creating television and other media products, the program supports activities intended to promote national distribution of the programming, effective educational uses of the programming, community-based outreach, and research on educational effectiveness.

The contents of this release were developed under a grant from the Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. The project is funded by a Ready To Learn grant (PR/AWARD No. U295A100025, CFDA No. 84.295A) provided by the Department of Education to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

About CPB

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,400 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.

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