It’s an exciting time in podcasting right now for children — especially in the age of smart speakers and amid growing demand for family-friendly content accessible from home. In response, PRX, PBS KIDS, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) are looking for new or existing podcasting teams to develop meaningful podcasts that introduce young children and their families to the world of work and open up life possibilities.
What is Ready To Learn?
The Ready To Learn initiative, from CPB and PBS, with support from the U.S. Department of Education, aims to develop new content that helps young children, ages 4–8, particularly those in low-income homes, build vital skills to help them succeed in school and life — particularly through building functional literacy, critical thinking, interpersonal collaboration, and age-appropriate exposure to career opportunities.
Learn more about Ready To Learn: this link will take you to the 2015–2020 initiative.
About the Podcast Accelerator
Five teams will be selected to participate in a 16-week intensive training, developed by PRX and PBS KIDS, focused on concept development, audience and community engagement, production values, and more. The program will also help participants navigate production, build processes and skills, and provide for community among fellow creators. After completing the program, teams will have access to and representation on PRX’s industry-leading podcast distribution and advertising platforms. They will also receive a $10,000 stipend for production and operational expenses.
Following the training period, PBS and CPB intend to produce and fund a season of one of the participating podcasts. They will make a selection based in part on the results of early pilot testing with PBS KIDS audiences. They may also look to extend the one podcast into other digital media.
How to prepare your application
To be successful, it takes more than just a good idea. Every podcast producer needs a strong sense of who they are making their podcast for, why they are the right person or team to do it, and a clear-eyed understanding of the work it takes to keep it going. In addition to those baselines of success, each application must have the following qualities to be considered for the Ready To Learn accelerator:
- Podcasts that promote intergenerational learning and prioritize educational experiences over entertainment
- Deep empathy for children and a driving passion for creating content that delights, engages them, and instills a love of learning
- Teams with baseline technical and editorial skills and who have experience in narrative storytelling, journalism, and/or children’s programming
- Teams with regional and racial diversity as well as diversity in content
- A commitment to making U.S.-centric content that is authentic to an American audience
This program will be competitive, but we have a few tips to make your application shine through:
1. Make the connection to career very clear
Your podcast can be about anything when it comes to the world of work but be sure that connection is evident in your pitch. “The world of work” is ambiguous — it can include “soft” skills like organization, criticality, and tenacity, or be content explicitly for an industry or profession. Whatever route your show takes, it must be clear that what your audience is hearing has a direct connection to career-readiness.
2. Emphasis on children
These podcasts are about work and career; however, they’re intended for children ages 4–8. Your podcast should take a creative approach to make these topics age-appropriate and impactful.
3. Refine on your pitch
Spend most of your time and energy on your pitch, including an elevator pitch, an extended pitch, and an audio clip. Your pitch should be captivating and compelling, leaving us to learn more and hear the show. This is your chance to cash in on your creativity and enthusiasm, so we encourage you to really go for it!
Pick or prototype the most compelling two-minute audio sample that will give us a clear sense of what the show is about and what it sounds like. The clip can be a trailer, a teaser, a climactic moment from a previous episode, a montage, or a sound mood/vision board. If you’re piloting a new idea and haven’t begun production, get creative and put together something rough and aspirational. While we will be paying attention to technical skill and execution, what we’re really listening for is vision, creativity, and potential.
Your application should tell us why you’re the right person to make this show. Tell us why you have the experience, background, and/or passion for creating meaningful content for kids and families, how you align with the Ready To Learn mission, and why your podcast stands out in the current landscape.
4. Have a strong idea of where you need help
We are not looking for teams that just want support with reach and marketing. We’re looking for people who genuinely want to make their show better, are open to feedback, and are willing to make changes.
Of course, new ideas and areas for growth will come as you go through the process, but it’s essential to know where you are now and where you want to go.
Are you ready to learn?
If the Ready To Learn podcast accelerator sounds like the right next step for you and your podcast, go for it! The deadline to apply is March 19, 2021, at 5 pm ET.
Watch the Info Sessions
The team at PRX hosted two info sessions to answer questions about the Ready To Learn Podcast Accelerator. Check them out below: