More Than PBS Kids

If you’re anything like us you love our local PBS provider KLRU. Not only do they bring some of the best shows to the airwaves with BBC Masterpiece Theater (do y’all have any more of those Sherlock episodes available for us?!), but they provide us with countless hours of kids programming that focuses on academic and learning, and other learning initiatives to promote cognitive development through TV time. However, that is not all they do! Did you know that KLRU is at the forefront of Early Childhood Education work in our community? They lead programs such as Play to Learn, are strong partners in the Bright by Text initiative and they are a key player in our Success X 6 Coalition (SX6) work focusing on “School Readiness.” United Way for Greater Austin is thrilled to partner closely with them all these efforts, and to directly fund their efforts with their Early Childhood work in Austin/Travis County.


If you were lucky enough to grow up with PBS KIDS you know that their goals are to be non-commercial, educational media that offers safe, fun learning experiences. With new technology on the table, they have moved beyond TV to reach kids and families on other devices – on computers, mobile devices, streaming boxes (Roku & Apple TV), and even game consoles. Building awareness of these multi-media PBS extension platforms is one of KLRUs chief goals, along with sharing info on how to best use these educational assets.


KLRU works on introducing tablet technology to children and parents with their Play to Learn (PTL) program. Throughout the 10-week curriculum, parents Learn and practice a multitude of hands-on skills to help their young children prepare for success in school. Additionally, PTL programming extends past the 10-week curriculum. Parents who attend at least eight sessions receive a tablet loaded with children’s books, songs, apps, PBS videos and bookmarked websites with helpful parenting resources to further aid and foster their children’s social and cognitive development. Their efforts in providing a tablet to participants have helped decrease the “digital divide” that exists between lower-income families and their higher-income peers. Play to Learn (ages 2-4) and the Ready to Learn (ages 2-8) programs are held around the Austin area—at churches, community centers and area events—to reach as many interested folks who might qualify as possible. These workshops are 100% English/Spanish bilingual. Find out more about Play to Learn on a previous United Way blog, and at the KLRU Website, or families can call 512.971.3101 to get enrolled or learn more information.

See how these programs have impacted the lives of our community:


“The importance in involving myself in Brandon’s education is because I’ve heard that at this age kids start discovering things for themselves. They are storing everything, like a little sponge, in their brains.” -Mariel

Families must be residents of Travis County, have a child aged 2-4 not already enrolled in preschool or a similar program, and must meet income guidelines (below a certain level). Families can call 512.971.3101 to get enrolled. All workshops can be run in English, Spanish, or both.

Get involved with KLRU by watching their programming, signing up for Bright by Text (free localized text messages informing you of events, activities & engagement tips geared towards the age of your child!), downloading the PBS kids apps (balance TV viewing and digital play!) and becoming an online judge for the KLRU Kids Writers Contest. All 600 entries will be read and judged by at least three individuals. The process is all electronic, so it can be done from home! This is a great way to see the writing and illustrating talents of Central Texas youth in grades K-5. Contact to get involved. Support KLRU by becoming a member – contributions can be one-time or sustained through monthly payments.

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