Joan Ganz Cooney Center Announces Local Station Youth Content Grant Projects

With CPB support, 12 stations will launch local projects for tweens and teens

February 28, 2022

NEW YORK (February 28, 2022) — The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) today announced the selection of 12 public media stations to participate in a grant program to create content by, with, and for tween and teen audiences. As part of the By/With/For Youth: Inspiring Next Gen Public Media Audiences project, each station will receive a $15,000 grant to support their local work with tweens and teens (ages 10-18). 

This grant program is designed to help public media stations explore new models for engaging young people in their communities, based on issues that young people see as relevant to their lives. The 12 stations, located in rural and urban markets, were selected from a pool of 43 applicants through a proposal review process that involved young people. 

“Our team is thrilled to partner with the public media community at this critical time for innovation in service of young people,” said Michael Preston, Executive Director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. “We feel strongly that public media is uniquely situated to center young people by partnering with them to address the issues they care about.” 

“Building on the findings and recommendations from the ‘Missing Middle’ report that the Cooney Center and CPB released last year, this project will help public media better connect with tweens and teens through content that is relevant to their lives,” said Debra Tica Sanchez, Senior Vice President of Educational Media and Learning Experience at CPB. 

The projects will offer young people an opportunity to participate in the creation of public media content that leverages existing local media platforms while also experimenting with podcasts and digital-first distribution channels like YouTube and TikTok, and other emerging platforms. 

The 12 station projects in the program, known as the Next Gen Public Media Accelerator, are:

•    KBTC-TV (Tacoma, WA) “Ability Awareness,” a series of short videos, will support neurodiverse youth by addressing life skills needed for transitioning to the workplace and independent living.
•    KWMR community radio (Point Reyes Station, CA) “Indigenous YOUth Nation” will feature the voices of Native youth in a radio program that will be broadcast via Native Voice One: The Native American Radio Network and PRX.
•    South Carolina ETV “Conversations with Crescent” will be an animated educational series featuring and co-developed by Black high school girls. 
•    WSHU (Westport, CT) “Climate Change Proof in Bridgeport,” a five-episode podcast on climate concerns, will be co-produced by eighth graders in Bridgeport, CT.
•    WFPL (Louisville, KY) “Engaging Youth in Local Civic News” features youth reporters who will contribute to the award-winning talk show In Conversation and contribute to the station’s 2022 Voter Guide.
•    WUNC North Carolina Public Radio (Chapel Hill, NC) “LaboraStory” students at a local North Carolina high school will produce issue-driven PSAs that aim to drive change in their community. 
•    Vegas PBS (Las Vegas, NV) “In Our Opinion” will be a student-created, student-hosted, student-led, and social-media-driven show spotlighting weekly current affairs from a youth perspective that will be a featured segment in local programming.  
•    WBUR (Boston, MA) “WBUR Youth Takeover” invites Greater Boston youth to develop a series of live events that tackle issues that matter to young people today; segments will be edited for broadcast on Morning Edition.
•    Twin Cities PBS (St. Paul, MN) HYPE 2.0 marks the return of one of Twin Cities PBS most celebrated programs, “Don’t Believe the HYPE,” training BIPOC students to craft their own narratives and amplify their voices within a new media landscape. 
•    Mississippi Public Broadcasting “MPB Student Council” taps students across the state to participate in storytelling workshops and produce a podcast series about social issues that affect them. 
•    WQED (Pittsburgh, PA) “Building Bridges and Bridging the Gap” incorporates Steeltown Academy into WQED with two Learning Labs, in which youth media makers and adult producers collaborate to create master classes with a youth perspective. 
•    The WNET Group (New York, NY) “Youth Collective: The Amplify Series” will commission digital content from Gen Z creators to feature on the station’s Youth Collective social media channels with mini grants to foster young, diverse talent. 

The Cooney Center will convene the 12 stations over the next six months through regular meetings and workshops to share experiences and best practices. The stations will collaborate on a toolkit that will support other public media stations to develop new programming for tween and teen audiences. 

For more details about the By/With/For Youth: Inspiring Next Gen Public Media Project, please visit:

Next Gen Public Media Accelerator
The WNET Group will commission digital content from Gen Z creators. Photo courtesy of WNET 

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 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television, and related online services. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @CPBmediaFacebook and LinkedIn and subscribe for other updates.

About the Joan Ganz Cooney Center:
The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit research and innovation lab that focuses on the challenges of fostering smarter, stronger, and kinder children in a rapidly changing media landscape. We conduct original research on emerging learning technologies and collaborate with educators and media producers to put this research into action. We also aim to inform the national conversation on media and education by working with policymakers and investors. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @CooneyCenter, Facebook and subscribe for other updates.

Catherine Jhee,
Tracey Briggs,