PBS Selects AVANCE as Ready to Learn Advisor

By on September 11, 2015

As part of CPB and PBS Multimillion-Dollar Ready To Learn Grant

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS have received a five-year U.S. Department of Education Ready To Learn (RTL) grant that will provide $19 million in year one to fund an innovative science and literacy media initiative to support the learning needs of children in low-income communities. As part of the grant, CPB and PBS have assembled a Ready to Learn National Advisory Board and selected AVANCE President and CEO Rick Noriega to serve on the Board.

This Ready to Learn National Advisory Board will proactively inform the development of content and programs; provide broad feedback on the quality of the resources; and support awareness-building of RTL in their individual fields of expertise. The Board will be composed of a diverse group of individuals who can provide expert guidance in literacy and science instruction, technology and accessibility, community engagement, and early learning and media. Noriega will represent AVANCE as a community engagement expert who will provide counsel on how to engage with parents and families.

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.

“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.

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 Education 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.

The Ready To Learn Initiative is a cooperative agreement funded and managed by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. It supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted to preschool and early elementary school children and their families. Its general goal is to promote early learning and school readiness, with a particular interest in reaching low-income children. In addition to creating television and other media products, the program supports activities intended to promote national distribution of the programming, effective educational uses of the programming, community-based outreach and research on educational effectiveness.



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