Ball State PBS has been awarded a $260,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS to extend the reach and impact of PBS KIDS early learning resources to local communities.

Over the next four years, Ball State PBS will collaborate with local partners to create a “Learning Neighborhood” that fosters a community-wide culture of learning at home, in the neighborhood, and within local systems and spaces. The program is part of the CPB-PBS Ready To Learn Initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Ball State PBS

“We are excited to be a part of this important Ready To Learn initiative with CPB, PBS, Ball State University, and our many community partners,” said Lori Georgi, interim general manager of Ball State PBS. “We couldn’t think of a better way to kick off our celebration of the station’s 50th birthday and our ongoing commitment to engaging children and families.”

The 2020-2025 Ready To Learn Initiative is focused on connecting children’s media and learning environments to build key skills for success in school and life, including functional literacy, critical thinking, and collaboration, as well as showing them career options in age-appropriate ways.  

“Local public media stations and their community partners will play an essential role in pioneering this impactful Learning Neighborhood approach by using and curating public media’s high-quality children’s content as a catalyst for school readiness,” said Deb Sanchez, CPB’s senior vice president of education and children’s content. “By working closely with local organizations, public media can provide engaging learning opportunities—anytime and anywhere—for children and families, especially those living in low-income communities.”

“PBS KIDS believes that the world is full of possibilities and so is every child,” said Sara DeWitt, senior vice president and general manager, children’s media and education, PBS. “Through their work on the ground and partnerships with local organizations across the country, PBS stations are uniquely positioned to help serve children, parents, and caregivers in their communities, ensuring access to invaluable learning resources.”

Ball State PBS is one of 10 public television stations receiving grants in this cohort, along with Arkansas PBS, Georgia Public Broadcasting, Nine PBS (St. Louis, MO), WXXI (Rochester, NY), PBS39 (Lehigh Valley, PA), Rhode Island PBS, East Tennessee PBS (Knoxville, TN), KERA (Dallas, TX) and KSPS (Spokane, WA).

They join 12 stations that began their “Learning Neighborhood” models in October 2020: Alaska Public Media; Austin PBS; Alabama Public Television; Detroit Public TV; Vegas PBS; Kentucky Educational Television; PBS SoCal (Los Angeles, CA); PBS Wisconsin; WNET (New York, NY); Maryland Public Television; WQED (Pittsburgh, PA); and WFSU (Tallahassee, FL). Additional communities will be added in the coming years.

This effort is part of a five-year grant awarded to CPB and PBS through the U.S. Department of Education’s Ready To Learn Initiative to develop new multi-platform media and engagement tools that introduce children to career and workforce options and help them build everyday literacy skills. The effort will empower and equip parents, caregivers, and communities to support children’s learning and growth in these areas through a network of “Learning Neighborhoods,” and conduct efficacy research on the newly produced educational resources.

In 2018, Ball State PBS received a $175,000 two-year Ready to Learn grant to work with community partners to provide STEM resources for young learners and their families on the south side of Muncie, specifically the 8twelve neighborhoods.

“We saw first-hand the power of Ready to Learn through that grant project,” said Michelle Kinsey, community engagement and grants manager at Ball State PBS. “We are thrilled to be able to continue working with wonderful partners to engage children and families with even more innovative, high-quality PBS KIDS content that is inclusive and impactful.”