Over the next four years, Rhode Island PBS will collaborate with three 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.
“Rhode Island PBS is extremely pleased to be awarded this important grant,” said David Piccerelli, president of WSBE Rhode Island PBS. “This project aligns directly with our mission and the strategic goals established by our Board of Directors to provide high-quality education resources and services to our highest-need communities. We look forward to collaborating with CPB and PBS and our local partners to fulfill these goals.”
“We are also grateful to Rhode Island’s congressional delegation, Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline,” Piccerelli continued. “Their continued support of public television in Washington and back home in Rhode Island helps make possible these innovative education programs.”
The 2020-2025 Ready To Learn Learning Neighborhoods Initiative is focused on connecting children’s media and learning environments to build key skills for children, setting them on a path of success in school and life. The goals of the project are to develop innovations and outcomes that improve functional literacy, career readiness, computational thinking, and executive function, in age-appropriate ways.
“This project builds on the strong foundation of early childhood education our Education Services Department has started,” says Mayra Monterroso, coordinator of Family Literacy for Rhode Island PBS. “We are thrilled to be part of this national project and to work with the three local affiliates of the national partners. The dedication of these local partners will enable us to extend our outreach to our most underserved communities.”
The Ready To Learn Learning Neighborhoods grant spans a period of four years. After a needs assessment period in year one, Rhode Island PBS Education Services plans to reach all four core cities – Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, and Central Falls – with educational resources ranging from professional development workshops for teachers, to educational workshops for parents and children, in years two through four.
“We are delighted to collaborate with Rhode Island PBS on this project,” said Lisa Hildebrand, executive director for the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children (RIAEYC). “Our role to provide advisory support will help forge strategic partnerships with other state agencies and expand the project's reach and impact by creating positive outcomes for children and families in Rhode Island.”
RIAEYC is the state affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Both the national and local organizations are dedicated to improving the well-being of all young children, with particular focus on the quality of educational and developmental services for young children, birth through age eight.
Federal Hill House, through its education program, Parents as Teachers, is another community partner on the RTL grant project. Among its wide range of direct family support services, Federal Hill House provides an early learning center, before and after school programs, and teen internship programs.
“We are very excited that Rhode Island PBS was selected as a grantee of the Ready To Learn Learning Neighborhoods project,” said Kimberly Fernandez, executive director of Federal Hill House. “This project directly aligns with our mission to strengthen family and community life in Providence through education, opportunities, and support for our neighbors, at every stage of life,” she said. “As a local affiliate of the national Parents as Teachers program, we are thrilled to collaborate with Rhode Island PBS Education Services on a project that will directly provide resources and training to our community to improve outcomes for families.”
The third local partner in the grant project is the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation. “We are particularly pleased that CPB has partnered with the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation in this round of the national RTL project. It signals recognition that investment in early childhood education and workforce development from an early age is so valuable,” said Jesse Saglio, president of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation. “Rhode Island believes early education and career development create pathways to productive careers and a healthy economy. We look forward to advising the team at Rhode Island PBS as they develop innovations in this direction.”
Deb Sanchez, CPB’s senior vice president of Education and Children’s Content, said, “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. 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 at 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.”
Rhode Island PBS is one of only 10 public television stations nationwide receiving grants in this cohort. Other awardees are Arkansas PBS, Georgia Public Broadcasting, Ball State PBS in Muncie, IN, Nine PBS in St. Louis, MO, WXXI in Rochester, NY, PBS39 in Lehigh Valley, PA, East Tennessee PBS in Knoxville, TN, KERA in Dallas, TX, and KSPS in 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.