I'm Dr. Lynne Rich, AETN Foundation Board chair, and I'm very pleased to be announcing an exciting new challenge here at the AETN Foundation. The Windgate Foundation has committed $100,000 to the AETN Foundation as a challenge to public television viewers: if 7,500 new donors join the AETN family by June 30, 2018, $100,000 will go to support the programs we all love on AETN, AETN Create, AETN World, and the new, 24-hour AETN PBS KIDS channel.
As an educator, a parent, and a grandparent, I have longed believed public television is not only filled with wonderfully engaging and entertaining programs, but is also the home of important programs. Programs important to our past, present, and future. For more than 50 years, AETN has brought arts, culture, documentary, drama, and the most trusted news and children's programs to Arkansas. I hope the next 50 years will see even more. Programs on AETN bring the whole world right into our homes, serve our children with educational and entertaining programs built with an intention to help them grow and learn, and provide news stories that inform and enlighten without bias, and, yes, more delightful drama and entertainment.
My grandson is growing up fast, and I know AETN will have programs that will continue to meet his thirst for knowledge and lead him to discoveries that are educationally rich and, in my opinion, comparable to none. That's why I serve on the AETN Foundation Board and why I believe AETN is so important.
My grandson and I have spent quite a bit of quality time with PBS KIDS, especially "Curious George." But recently he told me, "I will always love ‘Curious George,' even when I'm grown up, too," as he chose a school age program for us to watch instead. He's growing up fast, and I know AETN will have programs that will continue to meet his thirst for knowledge and lead him to discoveries that are educationally rich and, in my opinion, comparable to none. That's why I serve on the AETN Foundation Board and why I believe AETN is so important. And I am not alone in that belief.
A recent study confirms that parents overwhelmingly agree that no other television network meets their children's school readiness needs like PBS KIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics has released guidelines to help families balance media and everyday life, pointing to PBS KIDS as a leading resource for educational programming. And public broadcasting is one of America's best investments – just about $1.35 per citizen each year.
So, now we, as those who believe in how important AETN is to the people of Arkansas, have an opportunity to help. I will be making sure all my friends hear about this challenge. All my friends I've talked with about how much we love "PBS NewsHour" and Judy Woodruff, "Doc Martin" and Portwenn, "Grantchester," "America's Test Kitchen" and so many more. Or the friends who share my love of Masterpiece and year after year of mysteries to relish. I'll be making sure they know that now is time to make the commitment to become a member. I hope you will, too.
Take the AETN Foundation Challenge by joining as a member at aetnfoundation.org/challenge.
Dr. S. Lynne Rich is an assistant professor at the University of Central Arkansas in the department of sociology. She has serves on the AETN Foundation Board and became AETN Foundation Board chair in 2016.