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Award Helps Bring Valuable, Vetted Early Childhood Educational Content to All 100 Counties

Research Triangle Park, NC, 7/16/2020 – UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina announced today that The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust has awarded UNC-TV’s Rootle 24/7 PBS KIDS Channel an $860,000 grant to launch the Rootle Ambassador program across North Carolina over five years, commencing this summer. Rootle, UNC-TV’s locally branded PBS KIDS connection, provides a proven educational partner to families, caregivers and educators with unmatched access to the state’s children. At such a pivotal moment for accessible learning in our state, this timely grant enables UNC-TV’s Children’s Media & Education Services to further its use of media as a powerful learning tool in the classroom and at home.

“I’m deeply grateful to the Kenan Charitable Trust for this opportunity to expand our impact on the lives of children and the work of teachers across the state,” said UNC-TV CEO Lindsay Bierman. “It’s unequivocally proven that PBS KIDS media resources can be used to improve learning outcomes. I also know that, for our most vulnerable youth, our programming and resources are a true lifeline.”

Rootle Ambassadors are locally-based community members who have a strong desire to support families of young learners and are trained to utilize and share the suite of PBS early education resources within their communities. UNC-TV has successfully piloted the Rootle Ambassador model in select North Carolina counties, earning overwhelmingly positive evaluations for its ability to prepare participants for meeting children’s needs and interests, encouraging self-directed exploration and leadership and developing active learning.

Powered by the Kenan Charitable Trust support, UNC-TV’s trusted brand, statewide reach and quality educational programming will make an immediate, significant difference in the lives of North Carolina’s children. Working in collaboration with statewide educational agencies and community organizations, UNC-TV is now poised to launch and scale up the Rootle Ambassador program across the state.

“At this critical time in our nation’s history,” noted Dorian Burton, assistant executive director of The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, “it is of the utmost importance that we provide every tool possible for our educators, parents and caretakers to find ways to deliver quality educational content to our young learners. We believe in UNC-TV leadership and dedication to serving North Carolina families and are proud to support Rootle 24/7 PBS KIDS Channel.”

With its five-year plan to train ambassadors in all 100 counties, the Rootle Ambassador program has the potential to reach more than 10,000 families every year. It will empower educators, caregivers and community partners to serve as locally-based education leaders, connecting resources to the unique needs of their communities, giving them tools to enrich their children’s learning, providing valuable training and creating a community network for early educators to connect.

Despite universal kindergarten and other groundbreaking programs, access to early childhood education in North Carolina remains elusive. Nearly 60% of the state’s children do not participate in preschool, and only 56% of kindergarteners demonstrated adequate literacy skills. UNC-TV is uniquely positioned to provide caregivers, educators and parents with equitable access to high-quality resources, and to connect to the tools and training to guide their children. The generous grant from the Kenan Charitable Trust will enable the development and deployment of Rootle Ambassadors across the state to raise awareness of and access to Rootle.

“Every child is valuable and deserves access to quality, empowering resources through early childhood development and school. A strong start leads to a strong finish,” said UNC-TV Director of Educational Engagement Mallory Mbalia. Mbalia, a former public-school teacher and administrator who created this innovative initiative, shared her motivation: “Rootle and PBS KIDS resources are for all children, families, communities and educators. The Rootle Ambassador program will share valuable, vetted educational programming and resources across the state through community events, professional development and other impactful ways.”

For 15 consecutive years, Americans have rated PBS and its member stations as the most trusted media institution in the nation, while 81% of parents say PBS Kids helps prepare their children for school readiness. Rootle provides demonstrated value with free and accessible resources from PBS KIDS and Rootle’s own educational outreach initiatives and events to North Carolina families and educators. With statewide rollout of the Rootle Ambassadors program, UNC-TV will significantly expand access to transformative opportunities for early learning and help every child begin a life-changing educational journey.

About The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust
The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust was founded in 1966 through provisions in William R. Kenan Jr.’s will. Since then, the Kenan Charitable Trust has distributed more than $500 million in grant funding, touching the lives of countless individuals and having a major impact on our community, our state and our nation. The Kenan Charitable Trust’s primary focus is to support education initiatives, especially those that help provide access to high-quality education. In addition to education, the Kenan Charitable Trust also supports organizations and programming focused on the arts, basic human needs, and other initiatives that are having an impact on the community. To learn more, visit

About UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina
As North Carolina’s statewide PBS network serving the country’s third-largest public media market, UNC-TV educates, informs, entertains and inspires its statewide audience on-air, online and in-person. Through its unique partnership of public investment and private support, the statewide network includes in-person engagement, digital-first social and online content delivery, and four over-the-air channels—UNC-TV PBS & More, the North Carolina Channel, Rootle 24/7 PBS Kids and the Explorer Channel. Its transformational events and content spark curiosity and wonder for all North Carolinians. Additionally, UNC-TV serves as the backbone for North Carolina’s state’s emergency services. Visit and join the conversation at, and @publicmediaNC on Twitter.


Rebekah Radisch, UNC-TV: 919-549-7177