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Deborah Linebarger to
Assess Effectiveness of
American Indian Literacy
Initiative in New Mexico


Friday, February 27, 2004

KNME-TV, public television for northern and central New Mexico (PBS), and BETWEEN THE LIONS, the award-winning 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
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!
Awards!

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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