Local that Works spotlights innovative and replicable content, engagement and revenue initiatives at public radio and TV stations and nonprofit and digital news organizations in the U.S. LTW includes an annual contest and a database (below). LTW produces webinars that offer insights into projects and organizations that are reshaping local civic journalism.
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The Michigan Learning Channel is a 24/7 resource for PreK-12 students with curriculum-based content. Built to eliminate connection issues for Michigan students so they could keep learning at home.
“Homes” presented personal stories from residents of Cleveland’s Woodhill Homes as it faced a complete rebuild. It also created space for community dialogue about public housing, race and poverty.
Every weekday morning, Interlochen Public Radio (IPR) presents Kids Commute, an interactive exploration of classical music centered around weekly themes (such as mermaids, opera and elephants) that are designed to educate and entertain the youngest listeners. Kids Commute also explores ballets, their stories, and the music that goes along with them. This interactive radio experience delivers strategies for early childhood artistic development that can be easily replicated in a variety of genres.
Prior to the pandemic, WFYI had set up a Be My Neighbor Day event at the city library with several community partners, a sensory-friendly area and an expected 1,200 guests. COVID-19 forced us to cancel the live event, so we pivoted to a mix of educational outreach and volunteer engagement for a Be My Neighbor Week.
In partnership with Fresno Unified School District, the 3rd largest in the state of California and a district with 90% economically disadvantaged and diverse students living below the poverty line without equal access to online learning, Valley PBS created an on-air program from 8am to 9am each day that targets Literacy Lessons for K-3rd students and is taught by FUSD teachers. Students have been able to learn and review fundamentals over-the-air, streaming on Facebook Live daily and on the website since June and lessons are translated into Spanish and Hmong.
At-Home Learning was a rapid response learning service for school closures in our local broadcast region. We created an on-air and digital service that was then shared with PBS stations across the country.
Block Club Chicago hosted a free resource fair on the West Side, bringing together 21 community organizations to offer free food, toiletries and health screenings to residents. Our neighborhood reporter was also on hand to take story tips and meet people.
COVID-19 and the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s orders for social distancing put a damper on traditional kids’ summer camps. PBS39’s “It’s Camp!” brought the best parts of camp into kids’ homes every weekday during the summer of 2020. This 30-minute program for kids ages 9-14 taught science, art, fitness, survival skills, connecting with nature, and more.
In March 2020, COVID-19 created a learning crisis across our entire country. The Kansas Department of Education recognized an opportunity to partner with PBS affiliates across Kansas to create shows to limit the “summer slide” for students at the elementary, middle and high school levels. This initiative became known as Learning Across Kansas.
Michigan Learning Channel
When our world came to a standstill in March 2020, the digital divide across Michigan became glaringly evident as children and families tried to navigate remote learning when many had limited or no internet access. DPTV met daily with educators as the pandemic began. DPTV heard their challenges and worked with them find solutions. Immediately we changed daily programming on our primary channel to school-aged content complimenting the lessons teachers in the viewing area were providing to their students at home. We recognized that not all students have reliable internet options, but the vast majority have a television in their home. This uniquely positioned DPTV to lead through and beyond the pandemic. Our main channel’s temporary content change bred an entirely new channel- the Michigan Learning Channel (MLC).
DPTV worked in partnership with all five other PBS stations across the state, assembling a geographically diverse initiative advisory committee, content advisory committees to build a channel by Michigan for Michigan. Equity of access across the state has been the driving force of the channel, which provides trusted, quality, standards-aligned content to every child in Michigan. DPTV conceived, designed, funded, and launched the channel in less than six months. Hundreds of hours of collaboration with stakeholders and over 30 content partners allowed the MLC to launch on January 4, 2021.
The MLC has quickly become a vital distance learning resource for Michigan students, teachers, and families. Audience numbers grow daily. The channel supports learning in every home- urban, suburban, and rural. The MLC is available free of charge over the air, with live stream and on demand lessons available, 24/7 at MichiganLearning.org. High quality instructional content, combined with learning activities, professional development, in-person events and family activities are driving the MLC’s success with users.
The MLC Engagement Team includes a dedicated person at each Michigan PBS station who directly supports educators and families in their community. MLC produced programs including Read, Write, ROAR!, Math Mights, and Extra Credit use Michigan teachers and students to engage learners and demonstrate high quality teaching practices. The MLC is building a library of resources for the state to help students to be successful.
Feedback across the state has been overwhelmingly positive. With the continued growth of the MLC in use, engagement, and connection we know that the MLC is making an impact. Continued conversations with our advisory groups and stakeholders confirm that users are finding the content useful, engaging, and meaningful. Our average week includes an estimated 100,000 broadcast viewers, 5,800 website visits, 1200 digital video views and 7,700 social media impressions. We developed two 160-page summer activity guides linked to weekly themes. 30,000 printed copies were distributed statewide. 1,000 digital copies were downloaded from the website.
The MLC impressed educators immediately. Leaders at early childhood centers, school districts and higher education tell us they are using this content, directing parents to these resources, and sending updates to teachers. Our own production expands and stations outside of Michigan are requesting to use MLC programs. Teachers are using lessons in their classrooms, parents are using lessons at home, and older adults have been refreshing their memory on key math skills they had forgotten. Station partners are supporting growth by adapting MLC content to additional audiences, including for children with special needs. MAISA (Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators) named the Michigan Learning Channel its 2021 Partner of the Year for launching the MLC as a service to students and teachers across Michigan.
Yes, the MLC has raised $3,625,808.23 since its inception from a variety of sources including the State of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Education, and various foundation partners.