WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS received notification today of a Ready to Learn grant for nearly $72 million from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement. CPB and PBS submitted a joint application in June in response to an RFP designed to fund research, development and deployment of transmedia content to improve the math and literacy skills of children ages 2-8, especially those living in poverty.
The grant, which provides the organizations nearly $15 million annually from 2010 to 2015, will allow CPB and PBS to advance pioneering work on behalf of the next generation of children – digital natives who will use media across many technology platforms – in partnership with local PBS stations, leading children's producers, educational technologists, university and community partners and researchers. This is the fourth Ready To Learn grant received by CPB and PBS since 1995. These funds have historically been leveraged with additional financial support from CPB and PBS.
"This grant is a critical investment in America's children," said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO for CPB. "Public media – both nationally and through our local stations – is uniquely poised to ensure that children, parents, educators and caregivers have access to the most effective, purpose-built media and resources to close the achievement gap in math and reading skills for the highest need young children."
"This generous grant will allow public media to deliver the next generation of educational resources to help kids build the skills they need to succeed in school and in life," said Paula Kerger, PBS president and CEO. "Research shows that the years before age five are the most critical period in a child's life. This is when children learn how to learn – when their educational, emotional, and social skills begin to take shape. Educational media are an important and effective component in motivating and developing young learners."
Measuring children's learning outcomes is a major priority for the CPB and PBS initiative, so extensive research and evaluation will be conducted by the Education Development Center (EDC), SRI International, and WestEd.
Among the partners CPB and PBS will engage to implement the project are local PBS stations and a wide array of existing and new PBS KIDS producers, including Sesame Workshop, WGBH, Universal, The Jim Henson Company, Out of the Blue, TPT National Productions, Kratt Brothers, Cloud Kid, Portfolio Entertainment Inc., and Random House Children's Entertainment. Other partners include the School of Education at Boston University, the Chicago Public Schools' Virtual Pre-K and Virtual K programs, the National Summer Learning Association, Creative Commons and the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems.
During the most recent Ready To Learn initiative, funding from the U.S. Department of Education has focused on developing curriculum-based content that supports early literacy acquisition for children ages 2-8. Literacy series SUPER WHY!, MARTHA SPEAKS, THE ELECTRIC COMPANY and WORDWORLD are PBS KIDS properties supported by this funding. In addition, this funding has made it possible to develop content across multiple technologies, including mobile applications, websites and online professional development. Research of the content developed with RTL funding resulted in findings that show media usage accelerates children's literacy acquisition. It also found that combining curriculum-based media with trained teachers is highly effective in helping young children build literacy skills.
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 1,100 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television, and related online services.
PBS, with its nearly 360 member stations, offers all Americans - from every walk of life - the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches more than 118 million people through television and nearly 21 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS' broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry's most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS' premier children's TV programming and its website, pbskids.org, are parents' and teachers' most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet.