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Use Proven Resources - Success Stories: Education & Community Outreach

Stations that have participated in one of CPB's major giving programs feel energized and ready to advance their major giving programs. We want to capture this enthusiasm by sharing successes and new ideas. Do you have a major giving success story? By letting us tell your story on this page, you will encourage other stations to continue their major giving efforts. Simply write up your story and .

Topics of Interest
Topics of Interest

Alabama Public Television Creates Donor-Education Synergy

About the Program

"Each of us is born with a natural desire to learn." Alabama Public Television, the first statewide educational television network (PDF, 32KB), begins its mission statement with this affirmation. APT's 2007 strategic planning process confirmed its historic role, identifying education as the network's highest priority. APT's Ready to Learn services are only one part of a broad series of education initiatives that the network delivers to the state. Other elements include:

  • APTPLUS™, an online education service for all ages,
  • Adult Education, include GED, workplace, and family skills training, e-Learning for educators, web-based in-service training and
  • APT Kids, including on-air and on-line programs and reading resources.

In the past decade, APT's RTL program has grown from a workshop and event program to a statewide delivery system for parent education, school readiness, early literacy development, and Extended-Care Education. Currently, APT supports four state-wide initiatives under the RTL banner:

  • First Teachers
  • Parenting Counts
  • Ready To Learn
  • PBS KIDS® Raising Readers
  • Ready To Grow

The network has four employees devoted to early childhood education across the state. It is one of twenty stations participating in the PBS Kids Raising Readers program, which works in pre-school programs to teach literacy skills to children ages 2 to 8, especially those from low income families. APT has a special mission to deliver these services to disadvantaged children in urban Birmingham neighborhoods with Title 1 schools and in the impoverished Alabama Black Belt, named for the black fertile soil that attracted 18th century settlements, farms and plantation economies. The Black Belt sweeps across the lower third of the state from Georgia to Mississippi and is primarily comprised of rural communities.

All of APT's education services are technologically integrated, employing a dynamic mix of on-air, on-line, and print materials and backed by a program of in-service teacher training in the use of educational media.

APT is not just a provider of educational programming and outreach, but an integral part of the state's education delivery system. More than 76% of the state's public school teachers, plus a number of private, parochial and home school teachers, are enrolled in the APTPLUS™, the network's online resource. APTPLUS™ is available in every school district and geographic location throughout Alabama.

APT Is developing digital content from existing program material that is keyed to state standards. The network is also part of a CPB local service initiative with Maryland, Arkansas and Kentucky to develop new methods of teaching math concepts.

How the Program is Funded

Most of APT's education funding comes from the State of Alabama and other agencies, since it plays such a direct role in education. But the network adds value to the mission through support from individuals, foundations, and corporations. The network presented proposals for over $3 million last year for education and outreach projects.

The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham provides major support for PBS Kids Raising Readers, but its funds are restricted to Greater Birmingham Metro area. APT uses funds from the Alabama Children's Trust Fund and non-discretionary support, including that provided by major donors, to fund outreach into the Black Belt counties. Education is now a part of every major the programming initiative the programming initiative (PDF, 28KB) developed by APT. From 10-15% of every documentary production grant is designated for development of online educational content related to the subject matter of the documentary. Two long-standing partners in this arena include a statewide utility company, Alabama Power, and the Alabama State Council on the Arts, which have strong commitments to education.

APT has not yet sought or received individual gifts restricted for education, but education is a major emphasis in the case it makes to every donor. The network credits this emphasis on education outreach with a seven-fold increase in major annual gifts, foundation grants, and estate gifts over a three-year period. It now routinely seeks not just four-and five-figure gifts, but gifts of $100,000 and more. [See APT Donor Benefits (PDF, 40KB) for donation levels.] Corporate and foundation education proposals have leveraged major unrestricted gifts from board members of these organizations, and major donor calls have led to corporate and foundation relationships.

Role of Management

APT's Executive Director led the effort to reposition the station through development of new mission, vision, and values statements (PDF, 9KB), a new strategic plan that emphasized and provided resources for the education mission, and designed an enhanced development effort to meet this priority.

The vice president for development plays a key role in identifying funding priorities, visiting potential prospects, and participating in fundraising and stewardship events. He also led establishment of a new leadership volunteer organization.

Role of Leadership Volunteers

The APT Foundation, which is in formation, will be composed of more than two dozen prominent philanthropic and business leaders statewide, was initiated in 2007. This repositioning of volunteer leadership was an outgrowth of the network's major giving initiative and strategic plan. The leaders are helping the development division launch three initiatives: foundation support, major and planned gifts, and corporate sponsorship not just of programs in the APT schedule, but production and outreach projects.

Application of Major Giving Principles

APT uses major gift identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship principles in all its high-level fundraising — not just for individual donors, but for corporate and foundation prospects as well. The network believes these stewardship techniques play a significant role in its high rate of renewals from both corporate and foundation sources.

Education proposals are reviewed internally by both the development team and the VP for Educational Services prior to submission to individuals, corporations or foundations. Education staff members are included in prospect visits and donor stewardship efforts.

A new VP for Development was recruited in 2005 with the goal of coordinating the education mission and the funding for it. "We're pretty clear about what the priorities are," the Development VP reports. "Education is part of the mission, and we understood that coming in. It is natural for us to work together."

Every member of the development team, with the exception of the membership manager, is new to the network, and the education and development leaders come from backgrounds of education and advocacy. By working together, APT has increased net revenue by at least 15% for three consecutive years.

Positioning the Station in the Community

APT's commitment to the education of Alabama's children has helped it to recruit a new era in leadership — both in board and state commission members who bring new energy and resources to help transform the organization. Educators have emerged as one of the networks leading groups of advocates (Website). Synergy has developed between fundraising for educational outreach and overall fundraising.

The network has enthusiastically adopted CPB'S MySource branding to convey its public image, even rebranding its monthly member magazine as MySource. More than five decades after its establishment, Alabama Public Television has reinvented itself as Alabama's place to "Learn Something New Every Day."

Community Idea Stations Commit to Education Mission

About the Program

If you accompany the President and CEO of The Community Idea Stations on one of his weekly "Impact Tours" of the Richmond facility, you will begin with the station's education program. That's appropriate, because that's how the stations got their start in the early 1960's as the culmination of an effort led by a Richmond business leader and chairman of the Richmond School Board, who saw television as a vital educational tool.

After that tour, you may come away, as did one major donor, marveling at how much these stations do in Central Virginia — or, as he put it, "I didn't know you had any touchy feely things." The stations touch tens of thousands of parents, students, and teachers in 44 school districts, and Central Virginia feels the impact of a public broadcasting group that does not just "do" education, but exists to educate. Today the stations serve over forty school districts throughout the Commonwealth.

The Community Idea Stations are two television stations in Richmond, one in Charlottesville, and a public radio station in Richmond. Their multi-channel capacity in Richmond has long allowed them to devote significant time to formal education and to children and family programming.

The stations have a state contract to provide K-12 services to 44 Virginia school districts, which they do through television, web streaming, and workshops for teachers. But apart from this formal role, private support enables them to deliver a rich variety of early childhood services under the banner of Ready to Learn (PDF, 23KB). Elements of the program include:

  • Programming. Over twelve hours of children's television programming each weekday — over ninety hours per week.
  • Workshops. Over 190 workshops training over 2,500 parents, early childhood educators, and childcare providers through 14 trainers in 44 counties.
  • The Ready to Learn (RTL) Book Initiative (PDF, 20KB). The stations gave children over 17,000 books last year through its workshops and its literacy partners, Head Start, Even Start, and reading intervention programs. Parents received handouts to correlate with each book. These provided activities to improve their child's reading skills.
  • Parent Services. The stations distribute PBS related materials at workshops and provide web links to PBS Kids, PBS Parents, and PBS Teacher Source websites.
  • Special Projects. Working through such community partners as libraries, museums, bookstores, and hospitals, the stations sponsor projects and events, including The Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest, to encourage reading throughout Central Virginia.

How the Program is Funded

The RTL program is funded by a mix of foundation, corporate, and individual donors. The largest source is a three-year corporate grant (PDF, 86KB), which grew out of a personal solicitation by the station's former CEO. A major foundation grant allowed the station to hire and train its network of trainers. Other corporate and foundation grants support program elements and events.

Gift from individuals have been focused on specific needs, such as books for children, but the station's role in education has become a powerful part of its case to major donors. During the CPB major giving initiative, the station sharpened its case for education and revised its cultivation video to feature its learning services in its story.

"Even donors who don't make specific gifts for education," its VP for Marketing and Development reports, "like the fact that we are doing so much in the community. Even where we have not received gifts for education, we receive gifts because of education."

Role of Management

The station's CEO is education's "head cheerleader." He leads station "impact tours" that begin with education. The management team reports that a number of corporate and foundation grants have come from "discovering interests during a tour."

The station's previous CEO was directly involved in securing the three-year corporate commitment, and the current CEO is working now to renew it.

Role of Leadership Volunteers

Individual board members not only act as ambassadors for the education message, but actively participate as advocates and askers. One board member personally took the message of the stations' RTL Book Initiative proposal to a local foundation and helped secure a grant that funded it.

Application of Major Giving Principles

The station is "impact" focused. The Education Services Department doesn't just run an effective education program, they document it, "giving us outcomes."

The Ready To Learn Coordinator personally reconnects with donors after a project or event to give them the results — how many books were distributed, how many parents attended, how many childcare providers were trained, and personal stories of the results. In one case, she told an individual donor who had provided gifts for a rural school that her gift was "an answer to a prayer." It was an effective example of donor stewardship, because until that moment, the donor had not been aware of precisely how her gift would be used.

The management team knows that decisions about all gifts, no matter their source, are ultimately made by individuals. Therefore they give all prospects, whether individual, foundation, or corporate, personalized cultivation and stewardship.

"The very best thing about how we work at Community Idea Stations is that there really aren't silos here," we were told. "We work in tandem with each other, and that allows us to be successful. Who's responsible for a particular grant? Everyone. We all pitch in."

Positioning the Station in the Community

Education is a central focus of the case (PDF, 4MB) the Community Idea Stations present to the community. The stations' mission and vision describe how they:

  • Strengthen communities, empower families and inform citizens throughout central Virginia,
  • Support teachers by training them on how to integrate technology into their curriculums, bringing energy and excitement into the classroom and giving students the capabilities they need to succeed, and
  • Empower parents to take an active role in their children's education.

The Community Idea Stations are getting real results. At the end of 2008, the Ready To Learn quarterly survey, conducted by the National Center for Outreach PlanIt program, found that:

  1. 48.6% of the participants plan to be more selective in television viewing,
  2. 58.3% indicated that they plan to read more with their child, and
  3. 86.5% indicated that they plan to do activities to extend the learning with their child.

According to The United Way report, State of School Readiness 2008, "The City of Petersburg has made the greatest improvement with a 37% decline in the number of students needing intervention since 2002. In 2007, almost 4 out of 5 kindergartners met the language and literacy benchmarks when they entered school." The Community Idea Stations have been very active in Petersburg and get a share of the credit.

The stations were founded by one of Richmond's volunteer education leaders. Today it extends and expands his vision, making education the core of a mission that serves thousands of Central Virginia families.

KETC Serves as Community Catalyst

About the Program

KETC has long had a commitment to improving the quality of education in Greater St. Louis, from pre-K through adult learners. In partnership with state agencies, the station provides professional development to K-12 teachers through online coursework. KETC has had a historic commitment to early childhood education and more recently added an emphasis on math, science, and technology education.

It is now going beyond this to redefine the role of a public television station in its community. Through the catalyst of CPB's Community Engagement Initiative, KETC now partners with other St. Louis institutions to help achieve productive change, delivering program material through a variety of platforms.

An example is KETC's Facing the Mortgage Crisis (PDF, 18KB), implemented during the summer of 2008 in collaboration with 25 community partners. KETC used on-air programming, on-line information and videos, printed information, and The United Way's 2-1-1 helpline and community interaction to raise awareness of the impact of mortgage foreclosure in the community and connect homeowners to trusted foreclosure prevention resources. One viewer later told the station in a MySource testimonial (Website), "Channel 9 is My Source for keeping my home."

To facilitate public engagement, connections and dialogue, KETC has established The Nine Network. This is both a physical space within KETC's new building and a virtual new media space that aggregates a variety of information resources, such as television, web, print, public radio, and an innovative on-line news service.

"We don't advocate for issues," says its VP Education and Community Engagement, "we advocate for the community. We're not just looking for a seat at the table; we provide the table."

Another key shift has been a focus on outcomes rather than just outputs. "It's important to create work in tandem with the community that is meaningful and impactful," she reports. "Hence, there has been a concerted effort to measure impact and then to convey our impact through all available platforms."

How the Program is Funded

KETC made a conscious decision to take a big picture approach to funding its work in the community. That required a radical shift in thinking... and something of a leap of faith. The station "no longer takes on short-term grants that nickel and dime us," its VP for Development reports. "'Fundraising Doritos' were not building sustainability, and this kind of fundraising was not meaningful to the type of donors we are talking to."

In addition to initial funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, KETC has received a $1 million challenge grant that is leveraging private support from individuals, corporations, and other foundations. Exact figures remain confidential, but several million dollars have been raised.

"The entire future fundability of our station is now tied to our work in the community," the station reports. At the insistence of a philanthropist who is a member of the board, KETC is working to "prove it," documenting the impact of every project it does so that it can show donors real results.

Role of Management

The station's CEO, who has a background not just in public television, but in new media, is the leader of the station's community engagement and fundraising effort. He led implementation of the KETC strategic plan (PDF, 810KB) that articulates the station's mission of being a public media network, rather than just a public television station, that continually addresses the question How do we use the medium for the public good?

The CEO is the leading communicator of the public media message in the community, actively participates in fundraising calls, and conveys a new sense of energy at KETC.

In addition, the role of station staff has changed. To create a public media network, staff must work collaboratively in teams across station functions. This shift has produced dramatic results in the station's ability to respond to opportunities and be nimble.

Role of Leadership Volunteers

A long-time member of the board who is an active philanthropist also helped the station make this shift toward engagement by preaching the benefits of community engagement and partnerships.

The board is deeply committed to the station's new direction and helps connect to community expertise and funding partners. "The board challenges us. Their message is, whenever there is a community issue, KETC needs to be there. What can KETC do to bring the community together?"

Application of Major Giving Principles

Through CPB's Community Engagement Initiative, KETC redoubled its commitment to listen to its donors — actively working to be donor-centered. "We listen," development leaders report, "and try to find out what resonates with you."

Another important major giving principle at work at KETC is integration. KETC management team members were surprised at a recent public television meeting to find development people sitting in one room and education people in another. At KETC, all team members sit in the same room. "For major giving to really find its feet," they say, "it's going to have to collaborate internally. We do that almost unconsciously and we've redirected resources internally to match them with where the opportunities lie."

Positioning the Station in the Community

A preliminary assessment of its Facing the Mortgage Crisis initiative, conducted by the University of Wisconsin at Madison, shows that KETC had significant impact on the community. The assessment team considers this work a case study of how a public media organization can empower a community around a specific issue and reported that it was "astounded" with the results — "that a public media organization in such a short time can have such a profound impact on a local community." The team found that respondents clearly stated that KETC is worthy of support because of its work in this project.

Community leaders have publicly endorsed KETC's new and expanding role in Greater St. Louis as a public media resource that is bringing substantive change to the community. Community engagement is, as the management team reports, tied to the entire future fundability of the station.

KNPB Delivers Education Mission through Active Partnerships

About the Program

Education and outreach are a core part of its mission at Reno's public television station, KNPB. The station has historically worked closely with state agencies, teachers, and daycare providers. Every facet of its activity is developed and delivered through partner relationships, including with local school districts, public libraries, hospitals, health insurance providers, the Sanford Center for Aging of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, and medical professionals. The unified education and outreach effort includes a director and two trainers, and is headed by KNPB's VP for Programming, Promotion, and Education. "Education is part of the fabric of our station," she reports. "It's what we do."

The station works through a network of partners through several initiatives:

  • "Friends of the Family," the KNPB-branded implementation of its RTLL services, including free workshops for parents and caregivers, free books to children, and other community activities focused on reading and media literacy. Cuentos en Familia is the Spanish-language offering of the same services.
  • PBS TeacherLine, offering educators online graduate level professional development courses.
  • An Educational Resource Calendar (Website), information about general audience and children's programming, including information to teachers on extended off-air classroom rights.
  • An annual Young Writers and Illustrators contest (Website).
  • Family to Family, that focuses on early childhood literacy from newborns to aged two.
  • A partnership with PAWS, an innovative organization that uses service dogs to teach literacy skills, based on findings that kids first read to animals.
  • Pre-K, that offers parents tools to help them educate their children, held in conjunction with the local school district and soon to be a statewide project.
  • A new family studies project that partners with the University of Nevada at Reno to develop a curriculum for early literacy for new parents and those who are learning English themselves.

How the Program is Funded

There is a diverse mix of funding sources. In addition to public funds, the station receives a grant from a large Reno business, five major foundation grants plus some smaller ones, and support for individual projects from major donors.

The Programming, Promotion, and Education department works with the Development Department to identify donors who may be interested in education projects. They are offered a menu of education projects in which they may choose to invest. [See KNPB Ready To Learn Description (PDF, 26KB) for details.] Thus, one corporate funder provides a $40,000 annual grant, of which $25,000 is for general station underwriting and $15,000 is earmarked for educational outreach.

Role of Management

The station's CEO is a champion of the station's education mission, serves as one of its ambassadors, and defends it when questions are raised about the significant investment of staff time in educational outreach, which some regard as the responsibility of the state.. He is actively involved in seeking production funding, particularly where it involves lifelong learning. He is an active participant in the broader development team at KNPB.

Role of Leadership Volunteers

The station's board is directly involved in the funding of some educational outreach. One board member is also on the board of her family foundation which funds the Young Writers and Illustrators contest. She serves as a judge in this competition and participates in the celebration event at which winning entries are recognized.

Application of Major Giving Principles

Educational outreach is regarded as an integral part of the station's mission, rather than an adjunct. That means that lifelong learning is routinely communicated to donor prospects, whether or not they show a particular interest in it. Educational outreach is integrated into KNPB's messaging. The education and outreach leaders write pitch points for pledge that convey the education message, and the station has made that message a core focus of its My Source participation (Website).

The VP for Programming, Promotion, and Education participates with the VP for Development in key asks. "We're never apologetic about asking for money for those services," she says. "We know how important they are.

"Those involved in direct services at stations must work closely with development personnel and get to know them," she says. "As soon as you start going together to ask for money, you get results, and the development people are amazed at the interest and receptivity."

Positioning the Station in the Community

KNPB viewers, members, and donors receive a seamless series of messages that repeatedly affirm the station's role in lifelong learning and early childhood education. The station offers its workshops without charge and brands its free books with the KNPB logo. Education activities receive regular coverage in the station's member guide. The station's Birthday Club membership program is both a development and an outreach activity. KNPB gets regular feedback from donors and community leaders that tell them they recognize and appreciate what the station is doing for children.

KUED's Education Agency Partnerships Produce Funding and Public Advocacy

About the Program

KUED's education efforts, conducted under the Ready to Learn umbrella, are integrated into the station's overall outreach effort. Ready to Learn takes its place alongside Diverse Voices and Health Matters as KUED's three pillars of community engagement.

Ready to Learn (Website) at KUED is a full circle literacy effort that touches on all facets of education to engage parents, teachers, and children. It includes:

  • Ready To Learn workshops to promote parental involvement
  • An annual Reading Rainbow competition, engaging schools and teachers with a Title I focus
  • The annual Reading Marathon and Super Reader Party, involving libraries, parents and such support providers as Boys and Girls Clubs, Head Start, etc.
  • The Golden Apples Teacher Awards, held in association with the Utah PTA.
  • An education connection guide, directed toward both parents and educators.
  • Dia De Los Niños, an educational outreach effort directly to Hispanic viewers
  • The UNI Kids Fair, a health fair for youngsters held in partnership with the University of Utah Hospital and Clinics and other partners.

All events are open to the public but each has a specific focus. KUED's principal emphasis is on Title I and Head Start communities. The station adds value to the budgets of these agencies while meeting their federal and state requirements. For this reason, the station reports that these agency leaders are among the station's most ardent advocates in the community.

Links to KUED On-air Programs

With the exception of a women's health initiative, all elements of the outreach program are tied to KUED on-air programs, providing a direct link between the station's on-air mission and its work in the community. The station identifies at least one pipeline program a month around which it can build outreach.

How the Program is Funded

KUED outreach, underwriting and development work cooperatively to secure funding for all three initiatives. Each element of the outreach service is packaged as an investment opportunity (PDF 50KB) that allow donors to invest in specific projects at levels that match their interests and budgets.

KUED was recently awarded a three-year grant by the United Way of Salt Lake and has another three-year grant from a major Utah foundation. An individual donor made a major contribution to KUED's participation in Utah segments of We Shall Remain, the Native history of America produced by WGBH. Most other funding comes from local corporations and foundations, but many result from personal cultivation efforts.

One of the station's largest grants resulted from the personal involvement of a station staff member. She attended an RTLL workshop, recognized the important role the station was playing in early childhood literacy, and became an advocate with her father-in-law, a board member of one of Utah's major foundations. The result was a six-figure, multi-year commitment.

A key element of the relationship with funding sources is that KUED invites funders to serve as project volunteers. This connects them directly with the programs they support and allows them to witness KUED's work in the community.

Role of Management

KUED's general manager sets the tone for the integrated approach. While he participates in calls and cultivation events, he feels his most important role is to build a team that unites the station's advisory board, management and staff. "We have people who are more recognizable than I am," he says, "not just in development, but throughout the community. It's a cliché to say 'We're all in development," but it happens to be true. To be successful, we all do have to be engaged in fundraising for the station. In this way, he serves more as the ringmaster than as a high wire artist and, of course, can involve more people.

He is working to identify and overturn silos in the station. "We still hear the words 'my donors' and 'my projects' on occasion, but we're working to overcome that."

Role of Leadership Volunteers

As a university licensee without an independent support organization, KUED leverages leadership support through a television advisory board rather than a governing board. The station used the BoardSource resource offered by the MGI to conduct a retreat, restructure the volunteer effort, and reaffirm its expectations for fundraising assistance. As a result, the advisory board is now actively engaged.

KUED also has a Ready To Learn Advisory Board and works through a variety of community partners. The Public Relations and Community Outreach Specialist calls this network "the foundation of our success. They are our greatest advertisers."

Application of Major Giving Principles

Although it already had an established major giving program and one of the leading planned giving programs in public broadcasting, KUED took advantage of the Major Giving Initiative and married its principles to corporate and foundation techniques developed during PBS's Corporate Support Performance Initiative (CSPI). This has resulted in:

  • Close coordination between development and outreach activities. Potential funding is vetted with the Public Relations and Community Outreach Specialist before it is accepted to make certain the department has the resources to complete the project.
  • A menu of evolving investment opportunities that allow development officers to match the station's dreams with the interests of donors.
  • Cooperative prospecting among corporate, foundation, and major gift officers to identify connections and existing relationships among potential donors. Prospect sharing was not new at KUED, but the station reports that there is more of it today than ever before.
  • Documenting the impact of its outreach activities to funders, particularly foundations. The station has significantly increased its investment in "proof of performance."

Perhaps the greatest application of major giving and CSPI principles is KUED's new focus on multi-year funding, rather than annual asks, with the requisite and time consuming renewal process. It now has two three-year commitments totaling nearly $200,000.

Positioning the Station in the Community

The station's Ready To Learn Advisory Board and its partnerships with Title I and Head Start agencies have resulted in significant public advocacy.

The station's Reading Marathon has become a well-known community event, supported by fifty volunteers who eagerly renew each year, and its Utah Gold Apple Awards (Website) held in association with the Utah PTA, is the signature education event of the year.

The fact that outreach is closely tied to programming makes it clear to the public that outreach is not something that KUED provides, but what it is about.

Smoky Hills PTV Education Outreach Taps Community Foundations

About the Program

Smoky Hills Public Television is simultaneously one of the largest and one of the smallest public television stations in the nation. Through four transmitters and several translators, the station serves over half the state of Kansas and part of neighboring Nebraska. Despite its extensive coverage area, the station's potential audience in this rural area is quite small.

A further challenge is that the station is not located in any of the eleven largest communities it serves, so is not "local" to any of them. Despite these challenges, Smoky Hills Public Television has an extensive educational outreach mission consisting of four main program elements:

  • State approved workshops to register and license daycare providers.
  • A partnership with Headstart and Early Headstart to provide books to every enrolled student in the region, plus teacher workshops.
  • The Share a Story summer reading program, which includes book donations.
  • An annual Reading Rainbow young writer's contest that leads to the national competition.

In addition to the region's traditional rural residents, the station serves a growing Hispanic population that has come to Kansas to work in the agricultural and meat packing industry. Many of these families have limited use of English, so the station provides bilingual reading materials and workshops.

How the Program is Funded

The education program began through a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, which supports the needs of children across the state. Today a partnership with Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services provides about two-thirds of the educational program's operational revenue. To raise the rest of the needed funding, Smoky Hills has overcome an important geographic liability.

Western Kansas is dotted with small community foundations, but because Smoky Hills' corporate headquarters are not located in any of these communities, the foundations do not consider Smoky Hills Public TV as a local cause. Its educational outreach program has changed that.

By documenting the service it provides to children of each community, the station is working to create a network of small grants. To strengthen these relationships, the station's board is considering apportioning its self-restricted quasi-endowment among the community foundations. Additional funding comes from small donations that are aggregated through such organizations as the Northwest Kansas Childcare Providers, and local service organizations.

Role of Station Support

Inter-departmental support for educational services is an integral part of the program at Smoky Hills. All staff, from the CEO to the Development Director, Major Giving Officer, Membership Director, Corporate Communication, and Production team share the station's mission and vision (Website) throughout the coverage area. They are all ambassadors for the education and outreach program.

Role of Leadership Volunteers

In addition to the station's board, which includes representatives from many of the communities Smoky Hills serves, the station has successfully organized parent groups with which the station has met. Mothers of PreSchoolers (MOPS), is an outgrowth of a presentation the Director of Education Services made to parents in Abilene. The groups help validate the station's work in their communities and are notified whenever funds from a local foundation are received so that they can participate in stewardship.

Application of Major Giving Principles

Given the considerable distances involved, much of the funding application process is handled by mail and telephone rather than through in-person asks. However, the Major Giving Initiative taught the station how to make its case to communities by articulating the benefits it provides.

Smoky Hills Public Television was also a part of CPB's Strategic Planning Initiative. Using the planning tools, its volunteer board identified two strengths — its local productions, which are unique to the service area — and its education outreach. It is now developing separate case statements for each of these areas and has begun developing approaches to individual donor prospects.

Positioning the Station in the Community

The station is using educational outreach to position itself as an organization that is an active part of Central and Western Kansas communities. When the Russell Foundation made its first grant to the station, the education and development directors invited the local newspaper and foundation director to witness the opening and distribution of books to young readers at a local classroom. The community foundation was excited to see that local efforts had helped not just a child, but an entire classroom.

The depth of their reaction is difficult to understand until one realizes that the classroom is supported by the Educational Service Center in distant Hays, Kansas, and Russell residents regard themselves as something of a stepchild. That their region's public television station was working in their community, directly for their youngsters, made a profound statement. Through its education outreach and funding partnerships, Smoky Hills Public Television has turned itself from "just a television station" to a physical presence in communities that feel isolated from both state and regional resources.

WJCT Invites Funders to Adopt Schools

About the Program

WJCT in Jacksonville has two education initiatives for parents that it delivers through nineteen elementary schools in Duval County. The station's Ready to Learn Workshops helps parents of youngsters ages 2-8 develop their children's literacy skills.

Its Parenting Counts Workshops focus on parents of those younger than 2 years of age. These school-based workshops are in addition to teacher training initiatives and program-specific outreach efforts.

The station also distributes books and literacy material to families with young learners and provides teacher training and other workshops based on PBS programming.

Over five years, the program has grown from a $25,000 program with one employee and twenty annual workshops to a supervisor and six part-time trainers, a $140,000 program that presents over 200 workshops. They have successfully leveraged CPB's earlier RTLL support into a major part of WJCT's mission.

How the Program is Funded

These programs are funded through an innovative mix of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The overall program is co-sponsored by the CSX railroad and by Delores Barr Weaver and J. Wayne Weaver, local philanthropists who own the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In addition, WJCT offers businesses and foundations the opportunity to sponsor an individual school's program (PDF, 55KB). Sponsors include business, corporate foundations, and charitable foundations.

These sponsorships are offered through the station's corporate marketing department as part of its suite of opportunities. Corporate support representatives prospect among existing business partners with the station, firms that have existing relationships with the schools but are new to the station, and those with no relation to the station, but which are located near a school that is interested in providing parents with the RTL and Parenting Counts services.

Businesses receive written recognition on all materials handed out at the workshops, on-air mentions on both WJCT television and radio, in the station's monthly program guide, and in an e-newsletter that will soon supplant the guide. They also get the chance to involve their employees in the workshops themselves and in other school activities. This deepening of relationships helps the individual schools, but it also serves to bond businesses to the program.

Role of Management

WJCT's President and CEO is an integral part of the fundraising team and participated in the presentation that secured the gift from the Weaver family. Mrs. Weaver is a former member of the WJCT Board.

Role of Leadership Volunteers

Staff leaders report that the WJCT board "leverages our funding for us. They take the story to family owned foundations and corporations." Board members have played a role in four of the school sponsorships.

Application of Major Giving Principles

The major individual gift that lies at the heart of the program came through an existing station relationship that was managed by the station's CEO. The station reports that WJCT was successful in securing the gift "because we understood what was important to Delores and were able to present a program that she truly believes in."

One key to the program's success is the coordination and involvement between education and corporate support. A funding lead may come from a school principal to the Education Outreach Coordinator or a corporate marketing relationship may lead to a relationship with the same company's philanthropic side. Leads are freely shared within the team and careful coordination avoids cannibalism of existing sources of support.

Positioning the Station in the Community

Educational outreach is one of the three pillars of WJCT's vision, and the station has become recognized for it. It has done so by linking its educational outreach and fundraising activities with evidence of the station's impact.

For example, WJCT's promise of on-air credit to its funding partners requires that it create on-air spots that document its service. Those spots create community buzz about the educational program itself. "As soon as a spot airs," the station's education outreach coordinator reports, "parents call to find out how their child can participate." WJCT measures and documents its community impact (PDF, 49KB) and shares it with funders and decision makers.

As a result, WJCT has become an integral part of the mayor's literacy initiative. In a remarkable and possibly unique expression of support last year, leaders of other non-profit organizations wrote letters to a local funding agency asking that WJCT receive grant funds that would otherwise have gone to them. The station's educational outreach is regarded as that important to their own work.

WNED ThinkBright Attracts Funding through Community Partnerships

About the Program

WNED was among the first public television stations to recognize the opportunity that DTV presented to expand its ability to deliver meaningful learning services. It seized that opportunity by creating ThinkBright Lifelong Learning, a fulltime digital channel and web presence devoted exclusively to education and community engagement.

ThinkBright is a comprehensive service offering "something for everyone" — teachers, students, families, and adult learners. It has grown into a seven-station service reaching all of upstate New York, and work is underway to extend it into Ontario through partnerships with Canadian educational institutions.

From its inception, ThinkBright has been considered more than just a video service with on-line resources, but a significant community partner. It actively works with local school systems, public and private schools, a professional development and technology center, other non profit organizations, and colleges and universities, one of which is a leading national center for education that served as one of ThinkBright's founding partners. Through an initial CPB Digital Service grant, it targeted five key areas:

  • Improved school success through parenting
  • Family health
  • Family literacy
  • Dyslexia education
  • Civic discourse among young people

ThinkBright hosts learning events in neighborhoods most lacking in resources, sponsors a city-wide book fair, and, in the second phase of its digital grant, became a lead partner in a 45-organization community-wide literacy coalition, Read to Succeed. The station contributed best practices to CPB's Literacy 360 project and developed CPB's Digital Content Initiative Guide (PDF, 20KB).

How the Program is Funded

ThinkBright was the centerpiece of WNED's digital capital campaign, representing the key community benefit that DTV would provide. Initial funding came from a $2.5 million grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation. Other foundations, businesses, individuals, and state government contributed. A challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation late in the campaign enabled WNED to raise almost $16.9 million, 12.6% above its original goal.

Funding for ThinkBright initiatives also comes from a variety of sources.

  • Local businesses, colleges, and a state agency provide funds for six of seven nights of ThinkBright's prime time hours, which are organized thematically.
  • A local foundation has provided a $300,000 three-year grant for WNED's dyslexia education initiative, which it now offers nationally.
  • The Buffalo Community Foundation provides significant support.
  • Individual donors have contributed over $300,000 to a range of ThinkBright initiatives, which are targeted in scope to allow donors and small family foundations to invest in projects of special interest.
  • WNED creates partnerships with other non-profits, such as the Red Cross, for both funding and content. Some of these service partners include WNED in their grant applications to external funders.
  • Buffalo's Read to Succeed coalition includes ThinkBright in applications to major foundations.

The station works to leverage or "layer" funds so that every funding source receives an impressive return on its social investment.

Role of Management

The station's President and CEO devotes much of his time to community engagement and is one of the most recognized figures in Buffalo. He serves on twelve boards in the community — including those of for-profit organizations that give the station entrée to corporate funding. He actively develops partnerships with other organizations which, in Buffalo's troubled economy, are considered essential by community leaders. The CEO actively prospects, solicits, and stewards major giving relationships. Internally, he fosters a culture of cross-department collaboration. "Everyone is in fundraising, customer service, and community outreach," the station's VP for Education reports. "Everything is everyone's job."

Role of Leadership Volunteers

WNED's board chair, at the time of its campaign, led the personal solicitation effort. Board members have offered leads and participated in cultivation efforts both in the capital campaign and the dyslexia project, where they helped to develop the key foundation relationship.

Application of Major Giving Principles

WNED's success rests on the integration of development activities into the fabric of the organization, whether the prospect is an individual, foundation, company, or educational partner. All members of the station's management team are engaged in prospecting and cultivating corporate, foundation, and major donor relationships. "Fundraising is never the goal. The goals are the projects and sponsorships. That's why people want to fund us." Stewardship receives a high priority at the station. WNED treats its funders as investors, sending out regular updates to make them feel a part of their projects and proactively advising them when details of a project have changed. The station believes that donors to projects should never be surprised, except pleasantly.

Positioning the Station in the Community

WNED's commitment to community service, as expressed through ThinkBright, has changed its perception in the community from that of "just another station" to a community asset — one of Buffalo's top five cultural institutions. The station was voted Buffalo's top non-profit by a local magazine and was recently described as "the United Way of broadcasting. That image, and the prominence of its CEO, has helped WNED thrive in a region in which other agencies face financial problems. This recognized financial success has enhanced its positive public image.