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Congressman Higgins Announces $75,000 “Ready to Learn” Grant Supporting a Learning Neighborhood Initiative in East Buffalo

Program Led by WNED PBS & Community Partners to Promote Literacy & STEM Learning

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced a $75,000 federal grant through the U.S. Department of Education and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting toward the implementation of the “Ready to Learn” initiative aimed at supporting early learning for children living in the City of Buffalo’s 14211 zip code.

“This program will help to open the eyes and minds of young children to the world of opportunities available to them,” said Congressman Higgins. “We commend WNED PBS and its partners for their leadership in this creative engagement of the community which lays the foundation for supporting and building our next-generation workforce.”

WNED PBS, in partnership with Every Person Influence Children (EPIC) and Northland Workforce Training Center, will use the grant to engage children and families in the 14211 zip code through learning experiences focused on critical thinking, collaboration, and world-of-work skills and knowledge. The 2-year initiative is set to begin October 2023 and serve children between ages 2 and 8. Through intergenerational family and community learning workshops, the program aims to help children connect their interests to workforce opportunities and empower caregivers with tools to support their children’s learning.

In its second year, the initiative plans to work with local businesses to create a “city” in the Buffalo Toronto Public Media studio, allowing school students and other children to interact with professionals in high-demand advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and high-tech careers and engage in hands-on activities.

Tom Calderone, President & CEO for Buffalo Toronto Public Media, said, “We are proud to partner with organizations working in underserved Buffalo neighborhoods and to provide intergenerational learning opportunities, inspire children's career aspirations, and to ready a new generation for the World of Work. This Ready To Learn grant is poised to make a lasting impact that we hope will lead to future workforce success for youth in both traditional careers as well as in new and emerging careers in fields such as advanced manufacturing and energy.”

The Ready to Learn initiative, a U.S. Department of Education program, in conjunction with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is designed to give teachers and parents the tools to explore reading and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts with children at an early age. The program requires all grant recipients to research the effectiveness of the materials and programs supported through the grant.

WNED PBS is among 19 public media stations nationwide awarded a total of $2.85 million supporting collaborative projects promoting learning and literacy. There is the potential for the WNED PBS grant to be extended in subsequent years, through 2025.