WTTW, Chicago's premier public television station, in partnership with W!LDBRAIN Entertainment and The Michael Cohen Group, LLC, has won a competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support a new five-year Ready to Learn initiative. Ready to Learn supports the development of educational programming and media for preschool and early elementary school children and their families. WTTW will team with W!LDBRAIN Entertainment, the award-winning production company and animation studio, to develop UMIGO (you make it go), a transmedia property created by Michael Polis, President of W!LDBRAIN Entertainment and Executive Producer of Yo Gabba Gabba!. UMIGO will also be developed in collaboration with the Michael Cohen Group, LLC, a research and evaluation firm recognized for its work with children, media and education, and responsible for formative and summative testing of the UMIGO property. UMIGO will launch as a web-based property and will later transition into a television series and line of consumer products.
The online interactive destination UMIGO will offer child-initiated learning and play opportunities for children ages 2 through 8. The project is specifically designed to address the educational needs of at-risk children in the U.S. living in low-income households. The website will provide them with the digital paint, glue, blocks, and other tools that will allow them not only to learn the basic principles of mathematics, but also to develop and refine their abilities to think creatively, invent, and work collaboratively.
"As a public television station that devotes half of its broadcast day to educational children's programming, we are honored that we have been chosen to collaborate on this important project," said Dan Schmidt, President & CEO of WTTW. "This initiative is especially timely, as math and science skills are vital to surviving in our new digital culture," he added. It is important to note that the funds from this grant are restricted and will go entirely toward this project. This grant allows us to be a part of educating children in the ever-growing digital space," said Schmidt.
"UMIGO is a fun and engaging virtual world where young minds can let their imaginations run wild," said Polis. "When we were kids, we thought of all sorts of incredible things to invent. UMIGO will test the boundaries of even the most creative imaginations while providing a solid foundation in mathematics," he continued. "Our multi-platform strategy will make UMIGO accessible to children and families of all socio-economic levels. We look forward to collaborating with WTTW and the Michael Cohen Group on a property that contributes to giving all kids an equal opportunity for success in school," he added.
This is WTTW's second Ready to Learn grant. Past Ready to Learn initiative grants from the U.S. Department of Education have funded some of the country's most beloved children's educational programming, such as WordWorld, Between the Lions, Sesame Street and SUPER WHY!.
The most watched public television station in America, WTTW has 1.5 million weekly viewers and serves a four-state region. For more than half a century, viewers have turned to WTTW for distinctive programming that informs, inspires, educates, and entertains. Recognized for its award-winning local and national productions, WTTW is committed to presenting the very best in cultural, nature, science, public affairs, and children's programming. WTTW is also watched by more children aged 2-11 than any other Chicago station.
About W!LDBRAIN Entertainment
W!LDBRAIN Entertainment is an award-winning entertainment company and one of the world's foremost producers of animation. The studio develops television, motion pictures, short-form programming, commercial content and consumer products. Their exceptional slate of programming includes the critically acclaimed television series Yo Gabba Gabba! (Nick Jr.) and live touring show, Yo Gabba Gabba! LIVE! There's A Party in My City; The Ricky Gervais Show (HBO); Higglytown Heroes (Disney); Bubble Guppies (Nick Jr.); The Hard Times of RJ Berger (MTV) and Team Smithereen, the short-form stunt puppet show from Dan Clark. W!LDBRAIN has received Clios, Addys, BDA Awards and Annies for their commercial work, reinvigorating classic brands for leading companies such as The Coca-Cola Company, Honda, Kraft and Nike. W!LDBRAIN Entertainment is based in Los Angeles, CA and is owned by DHX Media Ltd., a TSX-listed public company.
About The Michael Cohen Group
The Michael Cohen Group, LLC (MCG) is an internationally recognized evaluation firm responsible for all formative research and summative testing for the project. The Michael Cohen Group specializes in conducting research with children and youth, their teachers, and their families, addressing all the dimensions of young peoples' lives — including education, entertainment, health and media — from various perspectives: students, family members, peers, consumers, and young citizens.
* This project will be developed under a cooperative agreement, #PRU295A100026, from the U.S. Department of Education. However, this project does not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. The entire scope of work will be financed by the Department of Education and no non-governmental sources are anticipated.