Joan Ganz Cooney Center Launches Project to Engage Public Media Stations, Youth

With CPB support, stations will pilot local projects focused on youth 10-18 

(New York, November 3, 2021) — The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop today announced the launch of an ambitious new phase of the By/With/For Youth: Inspiring Next Gen Public Media Audiences initiative (Next Gen Public Media). With funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the project will work with public media stations to create meaningful content by, with, and for today’s young people to meet their unique educational, community, and career-focused needs.

The project will feature the Next Gen Public Media Accelerator, a grant program that will provide funding to at least 10 public media stations to prototype and pilot local projects focused on tween- and teen-focused initiatives (ages 10-18). The Cooney Center is now accepting requests for proposals from public media stations, who will compete to receive $15,000 and join a six-month Accelerator program from February to August 2022. Information about the request for proposals from public media stations and key dates can be found at

The project will also include a youth fellowship program that elevates the voices of diverse young people. “It is critical to bring the voices of youth into the conversation. They have unique needs and insights, and importantly, they are eager to participate,” said Michael Preston, Executive Director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. “Let’s make them partners now, and empower them to create and shape content that matters.” 

Launched in 2020, the first phase of the Next Gen Public Media project set out to understand how tweens and teens engage with media today. Cooney Center researchers conducted a broad analysis of the media landscape and conducted in-depth focus groups with diverse youth across the country to better understand the ways youth discover and use media in their daily lives. The findings of this study are the focus of The Missing Middle: Reimagining a Future for Tweens, Teens, and Public Media.

“With so much attention on the negative effects of commercial and social media on youth, it is vital for public media to work with tweens and teens to create a positive media experience. The next phase of this initiative will build on documented strategies to support stations and producers as they engage with young people,” said Debra Tica Sanchez, Senior Vice President of Educational Media and Learning Experience at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “We believe that stations and producers will gain knowledge, skills, and new relationships to make public media a platform that meets the unique educational and civic needs of young people today that will pay forward in the years ahead.”

Over the next 15 months, the Cooney Center will convene a learning and design network to support new pilot initiatives, engage partners and stakeholders in a collaborative learning process around youth and media, and develop a toolkit for future youth-focused activities with the public media community. 

For more details about the By/With/For Youth: Inspiring Next Gen Public Media Project, please visit:

About CPB

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally managed and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television, and related online services. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @CPBmedia, Facebook, LinkedIn, and subscribe for other updates.

About the Joan Ganz Cooney Center

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit research and innovation lab that focuses on the challenges of fostering smarter, stronger, and kinder children in a rapidly changing media landscape. We conduct original research on emerging learning technologies and collaborate with educators and media producers to put this research into action. We also aim to inform the national conversation on media and education by working with policymakers and investors. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @CooneyCenter, Facebook and subscribe for other updates.


Tracey Briggs

Catherine Jhee