Ready To Learn

To support the millions of children lacking the basic early learning skills to succeed in school, the U.S. Department of Education’s Ready To Learn Television grant has funded, for the past two decades, the development of educational television and digital media targeted at preschool and early elementary school children and their families, especially those who live in low-income communities. Under this federal grant, CPB and PBS KIDS work with producers, researchers, local public media stations, and other partners to develop, distribute and evaluate PBS KIDS multiplatform content – including television programs, video, interactive games, mobile apps and hands-on activities – to engage children, families, and educators in learning experiences at home, in preschool, and in out-of-school settings.

2020-2025: Learn Together: Connecting Children's Media and Learning Environments to Build Key Skills for Success

In this grant cycle, CPB and PBS are working with early learning experts to expose young children to career and workforce options and help them to build vital functional literacy, critical thinking, collaboration, and "world of work" skills and knowledge. This effort also empowers and equips parents, caregivers, and communities to support children's learning and growth in these areas to put children on a path to lifetime success. This grant funds three new multi-platform television series and connected digital experiences, four new short-form video series, two new podcasts for children and families, and digital and real-world hybrid learning experiences that support intergenerational and family learning. Local PBS stations work with diverse community partners as part of a network of Learning Neighborhoods devoted to supporting the early learning needs of children in underserved communities, and with state-level partners to extend the reach of Ready To Learn resources in their states. The Education Development Center (EDC) leads research assessing the success of the five-year initiative.

Work It Out Wombats! An animated series for children ages 3-6 from GBH Kids and Pipeline Studios features marsupial siblings who demonstrate a way of thinking that uses practices, processes, and ideas at the core of computer science.

Lyla in the Loop: This multiplatform animated series for children ages 4-8 from Mighty Picnic and Pipeline Studios features a dynamic 7-year-old girl who teams up with others to use creative and strategic problem-solving and critical thinking skills to address a range of everyday problems.

Molly of Denali: The Big Gathering This short-form video series and interactive game features Molly and her friends preparing for a convention, inspired by the real-life Alaska Federation of Natives convention. Preparations, such as repairing a drum or figuring out how far each friend will have to travel involve using and creating functional texts.

What Can You Become: This series of shorts focuses on career readiness skills for kids while demonstrating how their interests and hobbies can lead to future job options and opportunities.

Tiny Time Travel: This series of live-action shorts follows and 11-year-old inventor and his best friend as they use their time machine to go back in time a tiny bit to solve misunderstandings and other problems in their neighborhood using social language skills.

Jamming on the Job: This multigenerational podcast from PBS North Carolina features the music duo known as 123 Andrés touring the country, meeting people with different jobs and composing original songs about those careers with the help of their magic BoomBox, voiced by Pierce Freelon.


The Plate Show: This comedy podcast from WNET for kids ages 6-9 and their families features Spoonie, a talking spoon, and Tongs, her sidekick, exploring cultures and foods around the world. They use social competencies in new environments, an important skill for the world of work.




2015-2020: Content, Community and Collaboration: Advancing Children's Learning Through Personalized Media Experiences

In this grant cycle, CPB and PBS worked with experts in early learning to create science and literacy-based television series, videos, games, mobile apps, and engagement resources. The grant funded new content for PBS KIDS series such as The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! and Ready Jet Go! along with a new science version of the PBS KIDS for Parents Play & Learn app and innovative short form videos from The Ruff Ruffman Show. PBS KIDS also launched two Ready To Learn series: Molly of Denali, focused on informational text literacy, and Elinor Wonders Why, focused on scientific inquiry. CPB and PBS leveraged this content by developing personalized and adaptive learning experiences for children and supports for parents, caregivers and educators.  Local PBS stations and community partners around the country used this content and related resources in the neighborhoods that need them most. Independent evaluations of the project's major media properties demonstrated that children learn the targeted knowledge and skills from the presented content. Recent data from the CPB-PBS Ready To Learn Initiative indicates that 15 million children watch RTL-funded science television content, and 19 million children use STEM games and mobile apps. The Ready To Learn Initiative: Improving Children’s Science and Literacy Learning Through the Power of Public Media summarizes the accomplishments of the CPB-PBS Ready To Learn Initiative (2015-2020). Further information and links to content and research reports can be found on PBS LearningMedia.

The 2015-2020 Ready To Learn grant supports the development of two new multiplatform series:

Molly of Denali, produced by WGBH Boston with animation collaborators at Atomic Cartoons for PBS KIDS, centers on Alaska Native Molly Mabray, a feisty and resourceful 10-year-old who brings viewers along for adventures in America’s 49th state. With a curriculum grounded in informational text, Molly of Denali also emphasizes family and intergenerational relationships and Alaska Native values. Ready To Learn is funding 38 half-hour episodes, a one-hour special, a digital app, online games, and hands-on resources for children ages 4-8, families, and educators.


Elinor Wonders Why, created by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson and produced in partnership with Pipeline Studios, will launch on PBS KIDS in September 2020. Elinor, the most observant and curious bunny rabbit in Animal Town, will introduce children ages 3-5 to science, nature and community through the adventures with her friends. Ready To Learn is funding 40 half-hour episodes, digital games, and hands-on resources for kids, families, and educators.

Elinor Wonders Why

The 2015-2020 grant also supports new episodes, games, and resources for existing properties and familiar characters on PBS KIDS:

  • Ready Jet Go! Ready To Learn funded 40 new episodes (including the one-hour special,“Back to Bortron 7), two digital apps (Jet’s Bot Builder and Space Scouts), and two engagement resources (PBS KIDS Family & Community Learning and Space Scouts Camp). Produced by Wind Dancer Films, the property introduces children ages 4-8 to new adventures of Jet Propulsion and his group of friends, who explore the solar system to learn about Earth and space science, and engineering and technology.  
  • The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! Ready To Learn funded 40 new episodes, The Cat in the Hat Builds That! app, and a PBS KIDS Family & Community Learning series. Produced by Portfolio Entertainment, the property models early science and engineering concepts and practices for children ages 3-5.
  • The Ruff Ruffman Show. Ready To Learn supported the launch of an online series with corresponding online games, the Photo Stuff with Ruff app, and two engagement resources (PBS KIDS Family & Community Learning and Sensational Science Camp). Produced by WGBH, these YouTube-inspired short form videos introduce children ages 4-8 to core science concepts and the science inquiry process.
  • PBS KIDS for Parents Play and Learn Science App. Ready To Learn funded the newest version of the Play and Learn app (featuring 15 engaging games covering core topics in Earth Science, Physical Science, and Life Science) and a PBS KIDS Family & Community Learning series to encourage families to explore science together.

 Additional content and resources, including professional development tools and out-of-school learning materials, can be found on PBS LearningMedia.

EDC and SRI International continue to show positive gains not only for children, but also for their families and educators, and public media station communities.

2010-2015: Expanded Learning Through Transmedia Content

Between 2010-2015, CPB and PBS collaborated with numerous partners to produce, evaluate, and disseminate a collection of evidence-based educational media and learning resources to advance the math and literacy skills of young children, particularly those in low-income communities.

  • A Preschool Math Property, PEG + CAT – Peg and Cat use math and problem-solving skills to save the day.  In 2015, PEG + CAT reached 11 million children on television and 12 million users digitally.
  • An Elementary Math Property, ODD SQUAD – Young agents are presented with a unique math problem that they must solve together through teamwork, critical thinking, and related math skills and practices.  In 2015, ODD SQUAD reached 10 million children on television and 20 million users digitally.
  • Transmedia Game Collections and Apps – These integrated collections of interactive content and games feature over 135 new games and mobile apps  based on characters and storylines from popular PBS KIDS series such as Curious George, The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That, Cyberchase, Dinosaur Train,Martha Speaks, Sid the Science Kid, Super WHY!, and others. 
  • The Electric Company Immersive World – The project developed a web and mobile-enabled immersive world called Prankster Planet to extend the math and literacy impact of The Electric Company. A wide range of resources, both in-school and out-of-school, were also created to support summer learning, bilingual education, and more.
  • Technology Innovations to Empower Parents and Educators – The project built and tested Measure Up!, a cutting-edge learning analytics platform that captures data from children’s real-time gameplay to help parents chart their child’s progress and receive recommendations for ways to further support their children’s learning.
  • Learning Resources and Community Engagement – Through collaboration with local public media stations and their partners, CPB and PBS scaled the usage of RTL content and tools across the country with parents, caregivers, and teachers who work with target audience children.  Tools featured PBS KIDS Lab, the PBS KIDS Play and Learn app, RTL’s Mobile Learning Program, Teaching Tips modules and videos, as well as PBS KIDS Afterschool and Summer Adventures. and more.

RTL math and literacy content is rigorously tested and evaluated at every phase of development and implementation by experts to assess its impact on children’s learning.  More than 100 research and evaluation studies completed since 2005 show that this content engages children and enhances their early learning skills, and that children can make significant academic gains when taught through a combination of media. 

Recent studies by EDC, SRI International, and WestEd continue to show positive gains not only for children, but also for their families and educators.

2005-2010: Improving and Measuring Children’s Literacy


US Department of Education Disclaimer

The contents of this website 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. U295A150003, CFDA No. 84.295A) provided by the Department of Education to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.