RTL 2020-25 Learning Neighborhoods (Cohort 2)

New applications are no longer being accepted. Check this page for updates about this initiative.


Open to CSG-qualified TV Stations.


June 30, 2021

Request for Proposals

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (“CPB”), as part of the 2020-25 Ready To Learn initiative (“RTL”), intends to contract with up to ten public television stations to create Learning Neighborhoods, an innovative model of community engagement designed to extend the reach and impact of RTL content in low-income communities. A Learning Neighborhood consists group of partners, including a local PBS station, that are acutely focused on the early learning needs of children and their families in the local station’s service area (“Learning Neighborhood”). Learning Neighborhoods will intentionally coordinate parent, family and educator experiences and provide a comprehensive set of touchpoints for a community to support a child’s learning, encouraging sustained use and extending the impact of the RTL content. On a macro level, the goal of the Learning Neighborhood will be to foster a community-wide culture that promotes Ready To Learn’s “Learn Together” theme and empowers children and adults to learn anytime, anywhere – at home, in the neighborhood, and within local systems and spaces.

Each Learning Neighborhood will consist of networks of partners in these communities that work together to give children ages two to eight from low-income communities (the “Target Audience”) a stronger foundation in functional literacy, computational thinking, executive function and career readiness with a focus on intergenerational learning and accessibility.

The stations selected through this RFP will join an existing group of Learning Neighborhoods which began their work in October 2020. The term will begin no earlier than October 1, 2021 and conclude no later than September 30, 2025 (contingent on the continuation of annual federal grant awards to CPB for the RTL program). During the first year of the contract, the selected stations will be trained on RTL resources, utilize the RTL Assets & Needs Assessment toolkit developed by RTL’s research partners, and draft a plan for their Learning Neighborhood, prior to implementing 2020-25 RTL content.

In order to be eligible to apply for funding, stations must currently be a CPB Community Service Grant recipient in good standing and have engaged in the following activities within the last five years:
• implemented recent RTL content and models;
• provided services to low-income families;
• participated in early learning initiatives; and
• demonstrated a commitment by the station’s leadership and community partners’ to those activities.

The Learning Neighborhoods are funded through a Ready To Learn Programming grant by the U.S. Department of Education, for a grant project entitled, “Learn Together: Connecting Children's Media and Learning Environments to Build Key Skills for Success” (PR Award No. S295A200004/ CFDA No. 84.295A). The total amount of funds available for all ten Learning Neighborhoods, contingent on a continuation of annual federal grant awards to CPB for the RTL program, is: $900,000 (FY21), $500,000 (FY22), $500,000 (FY23), and $700,000 (FY24).

Please download the Request for Proposals below for detailed information, including application requirements.
PDF icon Request for Proposals209.53 KB

Questions from Potential Respondents, with CPB Answers:

FAQ Topic: 

What should stations use as the project start and end dates?

The start date is October 1, 2021 and the end date is September 30, 2025.

How should stations respond under “Description” when responding to the RFP at grants.cpb.org?

Although not required, we recommend you insert “RFP – Ready To Learn 2020-2025 Learning Neighborhoods (Cohort 2)”, and the station’s call letters or name.

Is there a word-count limit or page limit on the application?

There is no word-count or page limit on the technical application.

Should costs for the assets and needs assessment be included as a line item in the budget?

Typically, the assets & needs assessment is conducted by station personnel and should be included in the appropriate budget categories, with the associated fringe benefits.

Do stations need to include the cost of an asset and needs assessment in the budget for year one?

Budgets should cover the costs of all activities described in the RFP under the section "V.YEAR 1 DELIVERABLES," including the Assets & Needs Assessment.

Does the budget proposal need to broken out month by month?

No, at this point applicants only need to show the proposed annual total for each budget line and category. Applicants selected for funding will report to CPB their expenses using the monthly columns in the template.

In responding to the "Project Community and Target Audience" section of the technical proposal, should stations focus on a single community or multiple communities at this point?

Applicants should describe their station’s service area, identifying low-income communities which would be well-suited to and interested in joining the Learning Neighborhood model. Stations may indicate an early preference for one particular community if circumstances are favorable toward the Learning Neighborhood model.

How are “supplies” and “equipment” defined for the budget lines?

Please refer to the definitions in the Uniform Guidance 2 C.F.R. § 200: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2014-title2-vol1/pdf/CFR-2014-title2-vol1-part200.pdf

Is the budget proposal only for the first project year?

Yes, applicants should only create a budget for the first project year, October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022.

How many trainings will take place in person in the first project year?

CPB and PBS do not anticipate requiring any in-person trainings during the first project year.

Is there an amount applicants should stay below in the budget proposal?

There is no minimum or maximum budget amount, but applicants should note that the total amount of funds available for all ten Learning Neighborhoods, contingent on a continuation of annual federal grant, is $900,000 the first project year.

If selected stations host community events in their Learning Neighborhood community to identify new partners and families, are related costs (e.g. food, supplies, transportation) acceptable?

Yes, awareness building activities and associated costs are acceptable so long as they don’t inhibit a Learning Neighborhood station’s ability to meet their required deliverables. Please note that federal grant guidelines prohibit the use of RTL funds for alcohol (2 CFR § 200.423) as well as other types of expense, including but not limited to prohibiting stations from using any funds provided by CPB:
a. for any activity designed to influence legislation or appropriations pending before the United States Congress or any state legislature; and
b. to conduct any reception or provide any other entertainment for any officer or employee of the federal government or any state or local government (47 U.S.C. §396 k (2) (A)).

Should stations include benefits along with salary under “Personnel” in their budgets?

Benefits can be included with salary under Personnel or as a separate cost under Fringe. In either case, please be sure to note the FTE and fringe rates in the budget narrative.

Our staffs’ salaries and benefits would be paid outside of RTL funds; should we indicate these costs in our budget proposal?

While in-kind support is not required, applicants may include in-kind items within their budget proposal.

How should the budget narrative be submitted?

Stations should add a tab to the Budget Template and include detailed descriptions, by category, of proposed expenses, such as, but not limited to FTE, fringe rates, and unit costs of supplies/equipment.

Where can I find a recording of the June 3, 2021 information session?

A recording of the information session can be found at https://www.cpb.org/2021-06-03-RTL-Learning-Neighborhoods-RFP-Info-Session-Webinar.

In the context of the eligibility requirement, what is meant by “recent RTL content and models?”

Several examples of recent RTL content and models can be found at https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/readytolearn/ (select “2015-2020” from the timeline).

What fiscal calendar does the project follow?

CPB and the U.S. Department of Education follow the federal fiscal calendar, which begins on October 1 and concludes on September 30.

Where the eligibility requirements say a station must have implemented recent RTL content and models, what does “implemented” mean? Should we have provided at least one RTL family/community workshop or camp, for example, or is it enough to have trained parents and educators to use RTL content? Also, we are discussing working with a partner to provide a pilot FCL workshop this summer. Would that be too late to qualify?)

The objective is to work with applicants that are familiar with recent RTL content, models, priorities and practices. Implementing RTL content and models would cover a broad range of activities, current and prospective, for example, using RTL out-of-school time materials with families, training educators using RTL professional development resources, or hosting screenings of RTL series in communities and others.

Is this opportunity limited to stations that have participated in Ready To Learn within the past 5 years?

In order to be eligible for consideration, stations must currently be a CPB Community Service Grant recipient in good standing and have engaged in the following activities within the last five years: implemented recent RTL content and models, provided services to low-income families, participated in early learning initiatives, and demonstrated a commitment by the station’s leadership and community partners’ to those activities. These activities may have been completed with or without funding from the CPB-PBS Ready To Learn Initiative.

Can selected stations conduct Learning Neighborhood work in multiple communities or should the Learning Neighborhood focus on one community?

Because of the collaborative nature of this work and the need for strong relationship building in the early stages of the Learning Neighborhood, CPB and PBS recommend that selected stations focus their initial Learning Neighborhood work on a single community (e.g. a neighborhood, a ZIP code, a school feeder pattern, a county). The Learning Neighborhood may scale and expand in later years of the project depending on the capacity and interest of partners.