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Ready to Learn

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.

In 2016, KLRU chose three Austin-based partners to implement early-learning programs to support low-income families. KLRU will work with The Thinkery, Communities in Schools, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Texas to develop and distribute science and literacy content funded with a Ready-to-Learn Grant from CPB, PBS and from the U.S. Department of Education.

“KLRU is excited to collaborate with these three Austin-based organizations as part of the multi-year CPB and PBS’ Ready To Learn-funded project,” said Bill Stotesbery, KLRU CEO and General Manager. “Each organization knows that KLRU has the ability to provide quality, trusted, educational resources, and we believe we will be helping to extend their work, by serving more at-risk people in our area using high-quality early learning content and services to set them on the path for a successful future.”

The national grant will provide resources to 11 PBS stations, including KLRU, to implement local partnerships in underserved communities. The grant will allow stations to establish community-based networks of strategic local and national partnerships devoted to early learning, focused on disadvantaged children and families. Other communities participating include: 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.

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.

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.

KLRU hosts National PBS KIDS Ready to Learn Advisors Meeting

On February 2 and 3, 2017, KLRU hosted the Ready to Learn National Advisors Meeting. The annual meeting is typically held in Washington D.C.; this was their first-ever relocation to a community implementing Ready to Learn-funded activities. Over 50 advisors from higher education, media production, and public-serving agencies gathered to provide direction to the project, in order to discuss the content and curriculum being produced, its dissemination to communities in need, and to give input on how to best evaluate the project’s efficacy.

Ready to Learn Advisors in a panel discussion on the original Austin City Limits stage. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS Kids are leading the Ready to Learn: Community Collaboratives for Early Learning and Media project, funded by the Department of Education. The five year grant (2015 – 2020) calls upon up to 40 PBS stations from all over the nation and their local community organizations to disseminate scientific inquiry and literacy content to low-income children ages 2 – 8 years old.

KLRU was one of the 11 pilot stations invited to test new resources in the field. We partner with Thinkery, Communities In Schools of Central Texas, and Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin area.

Among other initiatives, we have held Odd Squad Summer Math Camps and Family Creative Learning (FCL) workshops at partner sites. At the FCL workshops, we guided parents to actively engage in their child’s learning using the free PBS KIDS Scratch Jr. app, which allows them to animate their favorite PBS characters.

In summer 2017, KLRU will pilot Odd Squad Summer Science Camp in which kids will solve problems to become Odd Squad agents. Another project coming down the pipeline is a new collection of Ruff Ruffman science materials.

Thank you to Thinkery for hosting one day of the workshop and to the city of Austin for wowing the Ready to Learn Advisory group. We hope that they will return in 2018.

Ready to Learn: Community Collaboratives for Early Learning and Media is funded by the US Department of Education and administered by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.