Ready to Learn Programming


Cooperative Agreements, Discretionary/Competitive Grants

RTL Television

Ready to Learn Programming supports the development of educational television and digital media targeted at preschool and early elementary school children and their families. Its general goal is to promote early learning and school readiness, with a particular interest in reaching low-income children. In addition to creating television and other media products, the program supports activities intended to promote national distribution of the programming, effective educational uses of the programming, community-based outreach, and research on educational effectiveness.

The RTL Programming competition is typically held every five years and the next competition will likely take place in 2025.

What’s New

ED Games Expo Features RTL Grantee

Have you ever wondered what it takes for a Ready to Learn grantee to create an educational game for young children?  As part of this year’s all-virtual ED Games Expo (June 1-5, 2021), WGBH and PBS Kids, the producers of the Ruff Ruffman TV show and digital games, have created a short video entitled “How the Learning Game Was Made” that will be broadcast at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 2.  To see the full story, click here.

Ready to Learn Announces $29 Million for Television and Digital Media Focusing on Career Awareness Among Early Learners

The U.S. Department of Education’s Ready to Learn program announced today two grant awards totaling $29 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Twin Cities Public Television for the development of educational television and digital media programs that will engage preschool and young elementary school children and their families.

The awards, made through the Ready to Learn Programming grant competition, support the creation of television shows, games, websites and apps for young children and families to play and explore, with a particular focus on developmentally appropriate career options and functional literacy, or using language in different contexts. The grantees—two award-winning public telecommunications entities—will create TV and digital experiences for children that teach the content and skills needed to succeed in elementary school, and they will work with independent evaluators to conduct studies of their effectiveness.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) in partnership with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), will develop educational media content focusing on functional literacy skills, critical thinking, collaboration, and workplace skills. In Wombats!, which will be produced by WGBH Boston, preschoolers will learn critical thinking and collaboration skills by following the adventures of three marsupial siblings as they explore their “Treeborhood.” In Liza Loops, produced by Dave Peth, an Emmy Award winner for Peg+Cat, 5-6 year old children will encounter sociable city kid Liza, an inspiring inventor, and her fuzzy blue sidekick Stu as they invent solutions to problems they find in their urban neighborhood.   As part of the grant, CPB and PBS will also work with additional partners to produce another literacy-themed TV show, to create a variety of interactive media and podcasts, and to manage community-based programs at 40 PBS member stations.

Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) will partner with Oasis Animation to create and distribute nationally in English and Spanish a new educational TV program called Mashopolis. By exploring the fictional city of Mashopolis, which is always under construction, young children ages 5-8 will learn about all the jobs necessary to build the city and keep it going. Along the way, they will develop Executive Functioning (EF) skills such as collaboration, decision-making, and problem-solving. TPT will work with additional partners to develop learning games and other digital media, and to implement community-based outreach programs across the country.

Today’s awards build upon the successful 2015 Ready to Learn competition, which facilitated the launch of the Peabody-award winning show, Molly of Denali, produced by WGBH under a grant to CPB, and Hero Elementary, produced by TPT and Portfolio Entertainment under a grant to TPT. Both grantees are past winners of Peabody and regional and national Emmy awards for their children’s programming.

The grantees and award amounts for the first of five years of funding are below; additional years of funding are contingent on Congressional appropriations:

Corporation for Public Broadcasting     $24,322,018     Washington, D.C.

Twin Cities Public Television                  $4,619,883      St. Paul, Minnesota

New Report on Ready to Learn Television by the Center on Media and Human Development

A new report entitled “The Ready to Learn Program: 2010-1015 Policy Brief” has been released by the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University to provide an overview of the research findings coming out of the Ready to Learn grantees’ efforts to innovate with educational “transmedia” to teach math to young children, ages 2-8.

Journal of Children and Media Publishes Special Section on Ready to Learn Television

The latest issue of The Journal of Children and Media (Volume 10, Issue 2) includes a special section entitled “Transmedia in the Service of Education” that collects six papers by grantees and evaluators of the U.S. Department of Education’s Ready to Learn Television program from 2010-2015. In this special section, guest edited by Shalom Fisch, the authors describe their experiences using television and interactive digital media to teach math skills to young children, ages 2-8. These papers can be found in the issue’s “commentaries” section and are available for free download during the month of April 2016.

Research Studies by Ready to Learn Grantees (2010-2015)

This document collects all of the key research studies produced by Ready to Learn grantees during the recently concluded grant cycle (2010-2015) focusing on the use of transmedia to teach math and literacy.

2015 New Awards Announced!

On September 3, 2015, the Department announced two new award winners in the 2015 Ready-to-Learn Television grant competition. The awards were announced at the Strategy Roundtable, co-hosted by the Office of Early Learning and the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. For more information about these awards, please visit the press release and Awards section.

  • Brian Lekander
    U.S. Department of Education, OESE
    Ready To Learn Programming
    400 Maryland Ave., SW
    Washington D.C. 20202