CPB Launches Literacy Grant Program

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The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which has been encouraged by the Bush Administration to put more emphasis on results-based educational TV, has created a Ready to Lead in Literacy grant program.

CPB will grant up to $3 million to noncommercial stations in fy2006 to maintain and/or expand community-based literacy efforts. It is intended to be a three-year effort, but with a smaller grant in 2007 and 2008, with stations encouraged to seek nonfederal money for outreach. No money is earmarked beyond 2008, perhaps because at the moment no CPB funding has been allocated for 2008 and beyond

Acting CPB President and CEO Ken Ferree also said Thursday that CPB and PBS have submitted a proposal to the Department of Education for a Ready to Learn initiative that is "focused on measurable gains in reading performance among low-income children." The Reaady to Lead effort will come from CPB, not the DOE Ready to Learn grant.

When DOE issued the request for proposal in March, the grant's express target was low-income children and an absolute requirement is that the show or shows (up to two at $10 million per) and accompanying outreach effort be based in scientific research on early childhood education and that bidders be able to demonstrate that it is geared to get results with its target population.

Public broadcasting drew DOE criticism for the Ready to Learn series, Postcards from Buster, which featured lesbian parents. DOE is the primary funder of the series, which new DOE Secretary Margaret Spellings suggested might not be the best venue to introduce that "sensitive topic." PBS agreed and chose not to distribute that episode.

A House appropriations committee zeroed out funding for Ready to Learn last week, but it was expected to be restored either in another appropriations committee hearing Thursday, failing that, on the House floor or in the Senate.