WCTE Education Outreach Receives Multi-Year Funding

Last Updated by Desiree Duncan on
Brenda Hughett, Barbara Greeson, Jill Ramsey, Dr. Sally Pardue, Cindy

WCTE Upper Cumberland PBS to Continue and Expand Early Learning Partnerships Locally to Support Low-income Families

WCTE Upper Cumberland PBS has been a Ready To Learn Demonstration Station, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting through a grant from the Department of Education, since May 2014.  Through this funding, WCTE has implemented over 130 early learning outreach activities, reaching over 12,000 Upper Cumberland children, families, and educators with quality educational PBS Kids content.  WCTE recently learned that the station will receive another cycle of funding for this important early learning initiative, allowing the Upper Cumberland’s PBS station to continue their Ready To Learn work throughout the region.  

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS recently announced their receipt of another Ready To Learn grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement. This grant will provide $19 million in year one of a five-year grant to fund CPB and PBS’ innovative science and literacy media initiative to support the learning needs of children in low-income communities. The grant will provide resources to 11 PBS stations across the country, including WCTE, to implement local partnerships in underserved communities in the Upper Cumberland.  “WCTE is honored to be a part of CPB and PBS’ Ready To Learn-funded project,” said Becky Magura, WCTE President & CEO.  “This grant will help WCTE continue to serve Upper Cumberland families with high-quality early learning content and services to set them on the path for a successful future.”

In the 2014-15 round of funding, WCTE forged essential partnerships for the implementation of Ready To Learn activities.  This included training teachers to use high-impact PBS Kids transmedia content, as well as teaching parents about the necessity of quality early learning opportunities, and carrying out hands-on learning activities with local children. WCTE is fortunate to have a strong partnership with the Putnam County School System for this initiative, retaining school system employee Cindy Putman as WCTE’s Ready To Learn Project Manager during the next round of Ready To Learn funding.  Along with Putnam County Schools, principal local partners include L.B.J. & C. Head Start, the TTU Oakley STEM Center, and the Highlands Workforce Development & Education Committee.  Several other community organizations serving high-need populations will benefit from WCTE’s involvement with Ready To Learn in 2015-2020.

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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.

A key piece of the grant will provide resources to PBS stations, including WCTE, to establish community-based networks of strategic local and national partnerships devoted to early learning, focused on disadvantaged children and families. The first phase of work will take place in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland through WCTE as well as 10 other high-need communities in partnership with PBS stations: Austin, TX (KLRU); Boston, MA (WGBH); Cleveland, OH (WVIZ/PBS ideastream); 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).

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 Educational 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.

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Photos attached: WCTE recently celebrated the news of the next round of Ready To Learn funding during an announcement event with current Ready To Learn and community partners.  Pictured L-R: Brenda Hughett, Putnam Co. Schools Extended Learning Programs Coordinator; Barbara Greeson, Putnam Co. Schools Early Literacy Facilitator; Jill Ramsey, Putnam Co. Schools Pre-K-6th Supervisor; Dr. Sally Pardue, TTU Oakley STEM Center Director; Cindy Putman, WCTE/Putnam Co. Schools Ready To Learn Project Manager; Michelle Castle, L.B.J. & C. Head Start Family Engagement Specialist; Becky Magura, WCTE President & CEO

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