Cartoon Launches $30 Million Computer Ed Initiative

As part of a three-year White House push to promote computer science education, Cartoon Network is launching a $30 million initiative to get kids interested in computer codes and coding.

As part of his new budget, being unveiled in early February, the President today (Jan. 30) unveiled a plan to provide $4 billion in funding to staes and another $100 million directly to school districts for training teachers and expanding access to instructional materials.

That will dovetail with Administration efforts to get high-speed broadband to schools and libraries.

But in addition to that funding, White House officials announced a number of private sector efforts to boost computer science education, citing Cartoon in a conference call with reporters.

Cartoon is putting its toons to work for the cause by adding working computer coding themes into two of its long-form series, Powerpuff Girls and a series to be named later.

The shows will include storylines and characters that encourage an interest in STEM education. "We've been doing a large amount of work with Hollywood and other media around the portrayal of who does this [computer] work," said U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith. "Many young people are not aware that computer science was founded by a broad set of people..."

In partnership with Scratch, a project from the MIT Media Lab, and the Scratch Foundation, Cartoon will also create coding tutorials that use characters from both series and targeting kids 6-11.

Cartoon will be building on its December launch of three coding tutorials featuring characters from its We Care Bears as part of Computer Science Education Week.

To help guide the effort, Cartoon is also forming an advisory board that will include Mitchel Resnick, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research and Director of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab.

“This generation of kids is incredibly creative and inventive, and we're inspired by them every day," Christina Miller, president and general manager, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang, told Multichannel News. "Computer literacy and learning to code are vitally important skills that foster creativity and self-expression. With this long-term commitment, we will leverage our brands and platforms to drive awareness for coding and provide access to the necessary tools for kids everywhere. The result, we hope, is that we help inspire the next generation as much as they inspire us."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.