More than half of American three- and four-year-olds do not have the opportunity to attend preschool, and a new multi-million-dollar Ready to Learn grant from the US Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement will provide the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and pubcaster PBS with the resources to overcome this persistent educational divide.
The grant, which will provide US$19 million in year one of a five-year grant, will enable CPB and PBS to work with experts in early learning to create new science and literacy-based programming, mobile apps and online games. Producers already on-board to develop multiplatform content include Random House Children’s Entertainment, WGBH and Wind Dancer Films.
The grant will also fund new content for PBS KIDS series such as The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That! and Ready Jet Go!
The funds will also prompt PBS KIDS to develop a variety of new media properties that are focused on scientific inquiry and literacy, and 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, with a focus on disadvantaged kids.
Recent Nielsen findings confirm that PBS stations reach more children ages two to eight, and more children in low-income homes, than any other children’s TV network. Other third-party studies reveal that content developed through CPB and PBS’s previous grants show that children exposed to PBS KIDS resources – including the Ready To Learn-funded series Peg + Cat and Odd Squad – helped improve math skills such as counting, recognizing shapes, predicting patterns and problem-solving.