Based on the excellent, proven results of the first five-year Ready To Learn (RTL) grant from the U.S. Department of Education, in 2011 the department awarded a new five-year RTL grant to CPB for $71.4 million to develop, evaluate and distribute innovative content in partnership with PBS to improve the mathematics and literacy skills of children aged 2 to 8, especially those from low-income backgrounds. The project uses a variety of media platforms, including television, the Internet, mobile devices and interactive whiteboards to create an integrated cross-platform set of experiences for young learners. Congress and the U.S. Department of Education have continued to recognize the value of public media and have provided $27.3 million in funding for a second year of RTL, from September 2011 to September 2012.
In the first year of the grant, from September 2010 to September 2011, CPB and PBS worked with producers to complete production of 68 interactive educational games and other innovative game applications based on seven PBS Kids television programs. These applications were deployed nationwide in October 2011 via PBSKids.org/lab. Also during 2011, CPB and PBS collaborated with Sesame Workshop, the major content producer in the RTL grant, to create “The Adventures of The Electric Company on Prankster Planet,”an online gaming experience that weaves narrative content from The Electric Company television episodes into a series of online mathematics “missions.” Popular from the start, the “Prankster Planet” launch drew nearly 5 million visits to the Electric Company website. In addition, CPB and PBS partnered with WGBH/Boston and others to develop learning resources for educators and families that included lesson plans, activity starters, professional development plans, out-of-school learning ideas, a “Ready for Math”tool kit to support the use ofRTL content and games at home, and an aggregated website called PBS Kids Lab, which is formatted for online and mobile use by both teachers and parents.