Department of Education Awards Over $23 Million to CPB, PBS and WTTW Chicago For New Ready To Learn Initiatives

Posted by PBS Publicity on

Public broadcasters to focus on improving reading performance


(Washington, D.C. - August 17, 2005) The Corporation for Public Broadcasting with PBS and WTTW Chicago have won competitive grants totaling $23.2 million from the Department of Education for the Ready To Learn initiative. The funds, the first awarded under the department's redesigned Ready To Learn project, will be used to develop highly-researched children's programming and community services designed to produce measurable improvements in low-income children's reading performance.

In the first year of the five-year grant, CPB, in partnership with PBS, will receive $15.8 million, of which $11.8 million will be used to develop children's programming with a consortium of other experts in education and media, and another $4 million will be used to conduct community outreach in collaboration with PBS and its member stations. CPB and PBS submitted the proposal jointly to the Department of Education. WTTW, the PBS member station in Chicago, submitted a separate proposal, and will receive a grant of more than $7 million to develop a children's program.

CPB and PBS have brought together a coalition of producers, content development and education and research experts to create an approach dubbed "Literacy 360," which will surround children with opportunities and cues to read and involve parents, teachers and the entire community in the effort. New PBS children's television programs are a key part of this effort, which will also include significant interactive and web content, teacher and parent materials, and content for additional multimedia platforms such as handheld devices.

"Television can be a great teacher - reaching children who need to learn to read now through effective programs and community partnerships such as those public broadcasting delivers. This grant affirms the importance of public broadcasting's role connecting to community on behalf of childrens' education. We look forward to the important work ahead," Patricia Harrison, CPB's president and CEO said.

"For 35 years, PBS has been an innovative leader using both media and community outreach efforts to advance early childhood literacy and school readiness," said Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of PBS. "Over the last decade, in partnership with the Department of Education's Ready To Learn initiative, PBS and local PBS stations have helped nearly 8 million children prepare for success in school, and we are excited to embark on the next phase of this landmark educational effort."

With its share of the grant, WTTW will be a co-producer and presenting station for a new children's public television series, Word World, to premiere January 2007. Word World provides an immediate connection between letters and words through a highly visual, hand-on approach to learning that is both entertaining and fun. WTTW received this grant, in part, because of its demonstrated commitment to the community for nearly 50 years. The grant is designated specifically for the development, production, and distribution of Word World, in addition to the creation and production of multi-platform quality content, which will include a web component, literacy workshops and community events.

"WTTW is proud to have received this grant. Producing quality children's programming has been - and always will be-at the heart of our mission," said Dan Schmidt, President and CEO of WTTW. "We are especially excited about producing an innovative new program that combines entertainment, education, humor and interactivity to increase literacy among pre-school children throughout the United States," he added.

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 1000 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 on-line services.

PBS is a private, nonprofit media enterprise that serves the nation's 348 public noncommercial television stations, reaching nearly 90 million people each week. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is the leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of educational services for adult learners. PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (pbskids.org), continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, the leading dot-org Web site on the Internet. PBS is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.

The most-watched public television station in America, WTTW11 has four million monthly viewers and serves a four-state region. For 50 years, viewers have turned to WTTW11 for distinctive programming that informs, inspires, educates and entertains. Recognized for its award-winning local and national productions, WTTW11 is committed to presenting the very best in cultural, nature, science, public affairs and children's programming. WTTW is also watched by more children aged 2-11 than any other Chicago station, giving them a place to laugh and learn through award-winning programs 365 days a year.




Ross Brown, 202-879-9820

Kevin Dando, 703-739-5073

Joanie Bayhack, 773-509-5431