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