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to Launch American Indian Literacy Initiative
in New Mexico

PBS Children's Series Receives Federal Grant to Continue Outreach to Underserved Communities

ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- (MARKET WIRE) -- January 30, 2004 -- KNME-TV, public television for northern and central New Mexico (PBS), and Between the Lions, the award-winning PBS children's series co-produced by WGBH Boston and Sirius Thinking, Ltd., announced today that they are the recipients of a $745,000 federal grant for an American Indian Head Start Literacy Initiative. This initiative aims to increase the literacy of American Indian children in Head Start programs using the BETWEEN THE LIONS television series along with related resources that will be adapted specifically for a variety of American Indian communities. The project includes a research study, conducted by Dr. Deborah Linebarger from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, to assess the effectiveness of using BETWEEN THE LIONS resources to improve the early reading skills of American Indian children. The study will use standardized measures and will create or adapt measures of early literacy that are culturally appropriate.

Senator Pete Domenici, who was the key sponsor for the federal appropriation to fund the project said, "I have great expectations for this innovative program to promote literacy among young American Indian children. KNME and its partners have a plan that can help build excitement among these young people about learning to read. Ultimately, it should help them as they advance their educations."

"KNME-TV is very grateful for the opportunity to work with WGBH in bringing BETWEEN THE LIONS to the Native children of New Mexico," said Ted A. Garcia, KNME General Manager and CEO. "KNME has a long history of working with Native American communities, both in producing multi-cultural programming and extensive outreach activities. This grant will allow KNME the opportunity of extending its existing educational outreach efforts and, working with collaborative partners, directly impact the literacy of Pueblo, Navajo and Apache children within New Mexico. We are thankful for the efforts of Senator Pete Domenici as well as other members of the New Mexico Congressional delegation in securing the financial support for this grant, and for their support of KNME in serving our communities."

A number of tribes have made a commitment to participate in this initiative, including: Mescalero Apache, Eastern Navajo, and the Pueblos of Acoma, Laguna, San Felipe, San Juan, Isleta, Taos, Cochiti, Sandia, Santa Ana and Zia. Representatives from many of these tribes contributed to the planning of the project. This new literacy initiative will further extend BETWEEN THE LIONS outreach to the American Indian population that was begun with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians as part of the BETWEEN THE LIONS Mississippi Literacy Initiative.*

Bernie Teba, Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department, worked with KNME-TV staff and the American Indian Head Start Literacy Initiative to bring this very worthwhile project to the tribes. Secretary Teba was greatly impressed with the results of using BETWEEN THE LIONS in Mississippi, where Choctaw children at high risk for reading failure significantly improved their performance in several key reading skills.

"The BETWEEN THE LIONS project is a collaborative effort that will enhance Native children's learning and literacy capabilities and provide them with a strong, culturally-sensitive platform for early learning and their future educational endeavors," said Secretary Teba. "We are grateful that WGBH and KNME have worked diligently to bring this program to the tribes of New Mexico, where it can benefit the literacy and learning skills of Native children."

Brigid Sullivan, Vice President for Children's, Educational and Interactive Programming and Media Access at WGBH Boston said, "This funding will help us extend the work we have been doing with BETWEEN THE LIONS in helping to teach reading in general, and in particular to help underserved populations. We are gratified that Congress has recognized the importance of helping us extend our educational outreach to American Indian children. BETWEEN THE LIONS, which is the only series on television aimed at teaching reading to children, is proving to be a vital tool for educators to use both with English-speaking children and with those for whom English is a second language."

KNME and BETWEEN THE LIONS staff will work closely with curriculum coordinators, teachers, and cultural specialists from a number of Indian tribes to adapt existing BETWEEN THE LIONS educational resources for their communities. The project will provide participating tribal Head Start classrooms with episodes of BETWEEN THE LIONS edited specifically for use with preschool children, a BETWEEN THE LIONS Early Literacy Handbook for American Indian Head Start teachers, related children's books, a full-day training for teachers and aides, and ongoing training and support. Results of the research study will be available upon conclusion of the project. KNME-TV and BETWEEN THE LIONS hope to expand the project in future years to American Indian and other Head Start programs around the country.

BETWEEN THE LIONS is produced for PBS KIDS by the award-winning team of WGBH Boston and Sirius Thinking, Ltd., two experts in the creative union of educational goals with laugh-out-loud children's television. Sirius Thinking, Ltd., is a children's educational entertainment media company based in New York City. Its founders, Christopher Cerf, Michael Frith, Norman Stiles, and John Sculley have extensive experience in the development and production of education/entertainment properties and have won a host of honors including multiple Emmy & Grammy awards. BETWEEN THE LIONS is funded in part by a Ready To Learn Television Cooperative Agreement from the US Department of Education through the Public Broadcasting Service and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. National corporate sponsorship is provided by Chick-fil-A®.

KNME-TV (PBS - Albuquerque/Santa Fe) serving northern and central New Mexico, broadcasts a wide array of national nature, history, current affairs, health, performance, children's, educational and entertainment programs. Locally, KNME-TV produces the multi-award-winning cultural affairs series COLORES!, the weekly public affairs series IN FOCUS, the legislative monthly call-in series STATELINE NEW MEXICO, and a variety of specials highlighting issues and topics of concern and interest to New Mexicans. Additionally, KNME-TV operates the Teach and Learn Network (TAL NET), broadcast on COMCAST Cable Channel 28, the education access channel for Albuquerque and KNME-DT 35, a digital broadcast channel. KNME-TV is licensed to the University of New Mexico (UNM) and the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS).

WGBH Boston is the producer of award-winning children's series such as Arthur, BETWEEN THE LIONS, and ZOOM, airing on PBS. Under the leadership of vice president Brigid Sullivan, the WGBH children's lineup leads the field in educational multimedia (including the Web, broadband, and interactive television) and in technologies and services that make media accessible for people with disabilities. WGBH's current children's series have been recognized with some of the world's most prestigious awards, including 10 Emmys, the George Foster Peabody award, three Prix Jeunesse awards, a BAFTA, and more than half a dozen Parents' Choice awards.

*The BETWEEN THE LIONS Mississippi Literacy Initiative was conducted in 2001-2202 by WGBH Boston and Sirius Thinking, Ltd. in partnership with Mississippi Broadcasting Networks. The initiative was supported under the Ready To Learn Television Program, P/R Award Number R295A00002, as administered by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education.

Press Contacts:
Tracy Patterson
WGBH Boston

Evy Todd

Between the Lions
The six-time Emmy Award winning BETWEEN THE LIONS, produced by WGBH, Sirius Thinking, and Mississippi Public Broadcasting, has recently premiered ten exciting new episodes on PBS KIDS. Click here for details!

Sirius Thinking, Ltd. has received multiple Emmy and Grammy awards. Click here for a full list of awards won by Between the Lions.
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