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Grants to Help Arkansas PBS Build ‘Learning Neighborhood’

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It’s a collaborative day in the neighborhood, Arkansas PBS announced Tuesday.

The statewide educational and public media network in Conway landed a $260,000 Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant to form partnerships and expand early learning resources in Arkansas communities.

The Windgate Foundation kicked in another $200,000 grant, spread across four years, to pay for a new Arkansas PBS position dedicated to the CPB-PBS Ready to Learn Initiative. That effort is working to connect children’s media use and learning environments, offering help in building skills like functional literacy, critical thinking and teamwork.

Through 2025, Arkansas PBS will look to foster a communitywide culture of education, a “Learning Neighborhood” within local systems and community spaces, officials said. The Ready to Learn Initiative is funded through the U.S. Department of Education.

“We are deeply grateful to CPB, PBS and the Windgate Foundation for their support of Arkansas PBS’s enduring commitment to education,” Arkansas PBS CEO Courtney Pledger said in a news release. “We know that when community partners work closely together, early learners’ chances for success in school truly soar – and we are thrilled to serve Arkansas children, parents and educators through this exceptional initiative.”

The program will also show children eventual career options in age-appropriate ways.

“Local public media stations and their community partners will play an essential role … by using and curating public media’s high-quality children’s content” to improve school readiness, said a statement from 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.”

Arkansas PBS is one of 10 public television groups receiving money in this grant cohort. The others were Georgia Public Broadcasting; Ball State PBS of Muncie, Indiana; Nine PBS of St. Louis; WXXI of Rochester, New York; PBS39 of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania; Rhode Island PBS; East Tennessee PBS of Knoxville; KERA of Dallas; and KSPS of Spokane, Washington.

They join 12 stations who began “Learning Neighborhood” last year. They were Alaska Public Media; Austin PBS; Alabama Public Television; Detroit Public TV; Vegas PBS; Kentucky Educational Television; PBS SoCal of Los Angeles; PBS Wisconsin; WNET of New York; Maryland Public Television; WQED of Pittsburgh; and WFSU of Tallahassee, Florida.

More communities will be added in coming years, the CPB said.

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