CPB Media Room

Public Media Stations to Expand Early Learning Projects

  • June 5, 2013

Funding for Ready To Learn projects will extend services to more schools and reach more children, teachers, and families

Washington, D.C. (June 5, 2013) – The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) today announced that four public television stations will receive funding totaling $110,000 to support the expansion of Ready To Learn (RTL) projects in their communities. Ready To Learn is a public media education program 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, especially those from low-income families. The effort funds the development and distribution of PBS KIDS multiplatform content to help kids build these critical skills.

Over the past year, KBTC (Tacoma, Wash.), Iowa Public Television (Johnston, Iowa), WFSU (Tallahassee, Fla.), and WVIZ/PBS ideastream (Cleveland, Ohio) have provided PBS KIDS interactive math and literacy programming and services, developed through RTL for children from low-income backgrounds, to their local communities. This latest funding from CPB will enable these four stations to continue their current projects through September 2013, and expand their work to reach more children, teachers, and families.

“Research shows that children who live in low-income households often struggle with early math and literacy skills even before they first go to school, which means they are already behind when they start kindergarten,” said Debra Sanchez, senior vice president, Education and Children’s Content at CPB. “Working together under the Ready To Learn program, CPB, PBS KIDS, and public television stations are developing and distributing math and literacy content – including television series, interactive games, mobile apps, and hands-on activities in the community – to encourage learning and give all children an equal and early opportunity to succeed in school.”

The four stations will continue their collaborations with educational partners in school, after school, and in summer settings to train educators to use RTL content with their students and teach 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.

“At PBS KIDS, our goal is to use public media to ignite children’s curiosity and expand their possibilities,” said Lesli Rotenberg, general manager, Children’s Programming, PBS. “Much of the most powerful impact that our educational, engaging content has takes place in communities across the country through our stations. With programs like the Ready To Learn Initiative, our member stations are providing trusted resources to families, educators, caregivers and partners to help bridge the achievement gap.”

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 for 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.

Summary of the Stations’ Continuing Ready To Learn Projects

KBTC (Tacoma, Wash.), working with local community partners, developed an approach to strengthen math and literacy skills of children living in the Hilltop Neighborhood, one of the highest need neighborhoods in Tacoma. Using PBS KIDS content, the project reached more than 2,000 children and nearly 1,500 parents and educators in its first year with activities such as parenting classes, after-school mentoring programs and summer programs. In the second year of the project, the station will continue to focus on the Hilltop Neighborhood with an emphasis on expanding RTL activities to Stanley Elementary School, which has one of the highest mobility rates (students moving in and out of school during the school year) in the school district. KBTC shares its RTL activities in its blog, “Ready to Learn in the Hilltop Neighborhood.”

Iowa Public Television (IPTV, Johnston, Iowa) will continue its RTL projects in the communities of Storm Lake and Waterloo and expand to a new community in Council Bluffs. Over the last few years, the Council Bluffs Community School District has faced challenges with its students’ reading and math proficiencies. IPTV plans to establish new relationships with three elementary schools in the district to implement math mentoring programs, professional development for educators and after-school staff, and demonstrations of PBS KIDS resources, as well as provide after-school and summer programs. IPTV will also conduct a technology assessment in Council Bluffs and will provide training and equipment (such as computers, tablets, and interactive whiteboards) to ensure every child has access to PBS KIDS content.

WFSU (Tallahassee, Fla.) began its RTL project as a pilot with two kindergarten teachers at a local Title I school. It has since grown into a multi-classroom, yearlong, peer-to-peer mentoring program with four 4th grade classes serving as mentors once each week to four kindergarten classes. Named “WFSU Math Mentors,” the program now reaches 160 children. WFSU has also built a network of educational services, covering more than 250 miles, that includes reading buddy programs, literacy volunteer programs, and professional development for educators. With this additional funding, the station will be able to sustain this work and bring RTL resources to additional sites, including the Bond Community, where, according to a recent survey, children starting kindergarten at Bond Elementary School did not have the necessary math and reading skills to enter kindergarten.

Over the past year, WVIZ/PBS ideastream (Cleveland, Ohio) provided RTL services to more than 2,000 people in Slavic Village, one of the poorest neighborhoods served by the Cleveland Metropolitan School System. In Slavic Village, 100 percent of the families live in poverty and 100 percent of the children receive free and reduced lunches. WVIZ will conduct a deeper analysis of the population of preschool children, most of whom do not attend a licensed preschool program. The station will continue its partnership with the Broadway P-16, an organized neighborhood association of 55 businesses, nonprofits, schools and government leaders that collaborate to provide students a smooth and successful transition through the education system to college and a career. WVIZ will help locate and reach the 1,800 preschool children who are being cared for in the Broadway P-16 neighborhood with RTL content that will help them better prepare for kindergarten.


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.

About CPB

CPB promotes the growth and development of public media in communities throughout America.

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CPB awards grants to stations and independent producers to create programs and services.