Local that Works

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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71 results found.

Drawn In Pilot Initiative

Nine PBS
Public TV
Angela Carr
[email protected]

The latest Common Sense Media report shared that 75% of Black parents felt it is important that their kids see people of their ethnicity-race in kid’s media (2021). Still, white characters made up 65% of human characters on kids TV in 2017 (Center for Scholars and Storytellers, 2019). In addition, our region’s literacy outcomes are critically inequitable—with 75% of St. Louis Black third graders not reading on grade level compared to 35% of their white peers (St. Louis American, 2022). Diverse, highly engaging content has the power to improve school proficiency. For example, kids who read comics are more likely to read a full grade level higher than other children (Krashen, 2004).

To address this gap in content and literacy, Nine PBS partnered with Oscar-winning, Black-led, and local studio, Lion Forge Animation, to develop the Drawn In Pilot Initiative featuring animated shorts, comics, web experiences, and community sessions for kids ages 5-8 to improve grade-level fluency.

Drawn In is a series of epic adventure stories set in a bustling Midwest city, following four BIPOC kids—Tyler Agbani, Nevaeh Campbell, Jadyn Harris, and Yeong-Ja “Grace” Park—who love comic books. In every episode and comic, their real world collides with characters from the comic world, and the kids must catch and restore them to save the city from cartoon mayhem.

Drawn In is unique for its community-based approach, implementing our Model for Community Engagement. As part of this continual feedback loop, St. Louis families, educators, and community leaders review scripts and character renderings, and offer input that has resulted in character and setting design changes. As such, Drawn In reflects a story unique to St. Louis that will resonate with communities nationwide.

Our Literacy Power Hour series has already begun to see impact in the community. Held over eight weeks in partnership with four community sites serving BIPOC families and low-income neighborhoods, the series has engaged 39 families and 53 kids around Drawn In comics to create their own stories. As a result, 82% of caregivers agreed that the series helped them learn about their children, and 84% of children reported being excited to watch future Drawn In episodes.

With Drawn In, Nine PBS has created a model for co-developing culturally responsive and diversely representative content in a way that champions community strengths and empowers families and educators as co-creators of the content they want to see.

Nine PBS is excited and proud to share that the Drawn In Initiative has had a positive impact on families and kids by bringing culturally representative and responsive, highly engaging content to the young learners in our region who need it the most.

To measure Drawn In’s initial impact, surveys were distributed at final Literacy Power Hour sessions and completed by 31 children ages 4 to 13 (with help from caregivers) and by 22 caregivers. These families represented 14 zip codes across the area, with over 90% of families not missing a single session. Ninety-seven percent of children “liked” the comics, indicating they were interesting, exciting, fun, and cool. They also indicated that they are looking forward to watching Drawn In animation on TV, reading future comics, or reading them with their caregiver.

Caregivers indicated positive experiences for themselves and their children, with 85% agreeing they learned something about their children through the sessions. Caregivers also reported that their children “definitely”:
•looked forward to Power Hour sessions (86%),
•gained creative writing and/or storytelling skills (72%)
•had more confidence in sharing their creative work with others (68%)
•talked about their Drawn In activity stories at home (67%)

Drawn In offers ways for kids and parents to learn about each other.

“I learned more about the way she thinks about and understands stories and their elements. I learned to see things through her point of view.” – Parent

Nine PBS received support from CPB and the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis to pilot this multimedia project, as well as from the Steward Family Foundation to support its community engagement activities, totaling $1.3M. At the pilot stage, revenue has not been a priority. Once the pilot content suite is completed in December 2022, Nine PBS will explore potential revenue streams to ensure our community continues to have free access to high-quality, representative early learning materials.