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CPB and PBS Receive Ready To Learn Grant From the U.S. Department of Education; Project Supports Content and Resources Available to Northwest Florida Through WSRE

Last Updated by Mary Riker on

CPB and PBS to Develop and Distribute Science and Literacy Content to Help Prepare Children for School; Initiative Builds on WSRE’s Early Learning Efforts in Low-income Communities

PENSACOLA, Fla., September 8, 2015 – The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS have received a Ready To Learn grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement. The grant will provide $19 million in year one of a five-year grant to fund CPB and PBS’ innovative science and literacy media initiative to support the learning needs of children in low-income communities. The grant will help fund content and services that will be available to families in Northwest Florida and surrounding areas through WSRE.
 
In their recent “Kids Count” survey, the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that 54% of America’s 3 and 4-year-olds do not have the opportunity to attend preschool. Through the grant-funded project, CPB and PBS will build on decades of success in developing and distributing content and resources that have been proven to meet the critical school readiness needs of America’s children. Nielsen confirms that PBS stations reach more children ages 2-8 and more children in low-income homes than any other children’s TV network, which makes PBS local stations powerful partners in ensuring access to educational resources.
 
“This grant will help WSRE continue to serve local families with high-quality early learning content and services to set them on the path for a successful future,” said Jill Hubbs, WSRE Educational Content & Services director.
 
“Public media, provided free of charge and commercial-free to all Americans, is committed to utilizing our high-quality educational content to help children succeed in school,” said Pat Harrison, President and CEO for CPB. “Through this investment by the Department of Education, we can help children in high-poverty neighborhoods have access to research-based educational content, preparing them to learn, and setting them on a path to become American graduates.”
 
“The grant will help PBS further our commitment to using the power of media to help all children succeed in school and in life, with community-based support through local stations for kids who are most at-risk,” said Paula Kerger, President and CEO, PBS. “We are grateful to the Department of Education for this critical support in creating innovative, connected learning experiences across media platforms that help young learners develop skills in science and literacy, two areas that are fundamental to academic achievement.”
 
CPB and PBS will work with experts in early learning to create new science and literacy-based programming, mobile apps and online games. The grant will fund new content for PBS KIDS series such as “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!” and “Ready Jet Go!” PBS KIDS will also develop a variety of new media properties as part of this effort, focused on scientific inquiry and literacy. CPB and PBS will leverage this content to develop personalized learning experiences for children and provide meaningful data to parents, caregivers and teachers.
 
A key piece of the grant will provide resources to PBS stations to establish community-based networks of strategic local and national partnerships devoted to early learning, focused on disadvantaged children and families. The first phase of work will take place in 11 high-need communities in partnership with PBS stations: Austin, TX (KLRU); Boston, MA (WGBH); Cleveland, OH (WVIZ/PBS ideastream); Cookeville, TN (WCTE); Detroit, MI (Detroit Public Television); Jackson, MS (Mississippi Public Broadcasting); Lexington, KY (Kentucky Educational Television); Los Angeles, CA (PBS SoCaL); Pittsburgh, PA (WQED); Tacoma, WA (KBTC); and Tallahassee, FL (WFSU). Station partnerships will include schools, public libraries, science centers, health clinics and housing agencies that serve high-need populations.
 
Beyond broadcast, WSRE connects with local communities in schools, during community events and in Downtown Pensacola at the WSRE Imagination Station. Located at the Pensacola Bayfront Stadium, the Imagination Station is a free, educational, public venue designed to promote early education and provide access and exposure to family learning activities. The Imagination Station leverages a vast assortment of resources available through PBS and is equipped with books, educational toys and touchscreen technology loaded with PBS KIDS educational games.
 
CPB and PBS will work with producers to develop multiplatform content, including: Random House Children’s Entertainment, WGBH and Wind Dancer Films. Key partners include the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the School of Education at Boston University, as well as national advisors from a wide range of organizations dedicated to supporting the early learning needs of children, families and educators.
 
CPB will work with the Educational Development Center (EDC) and a consortium of research partners to develop a multi-year research plan. As part of the plan, independent researchers will evaluate the effectiveness of the innovative resources developed under the project, and their impact on supporting school readiness for children, families and communities. 
 
CPB and PBS will build on previously funded work that research has proven to help narrow the achievement gap for children ages 2-8. Third-party studies of content developed through the previous grants show that children exposed to PBS KIDS resources—including Ready To Learn-funded series “Peg + Cat” and “Odd Squad”—improve in math skills such as counting, recognizing shapes, predicting patterns and problem-solving. Research also shows that usage of this content across media platforms significantly supports children's early math learning, while increasing family engagement and enhancing educator effectiveness.

Media Relations Contact:
Mary Riker
mriker@wsre.org