Twin Cities PBS has been awarded a $4.6 million federal grant to produce a new, animated, educational kids series called "Mashopolis," expected to air in 2023.
The announcement comes four months after the premier of TPT's first animated project, "Hero Elementary," which also received funding from the U.S. Department of Education's Ready to Learn initiative. TPT will receive the $4.6 million for the first year of development, with expected renewed funding over the next four years of production.
Just one other company received new funding this year - the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Delivered in English and Spanish, the 40-episode cartoon series "Mashopolis" will be aimed helping kids aged 5 to 8 years old build executive functional skills — such as memory, mental flexibility, and self-control — as they follow characters building their perfect city.
The characters, played by real-life actors in a cartoon world, face "game-like challenges" that require viewers to "tap into" their executive functioning skills.
According to the Star Tribune, Mashopolis is expected to cost around $38 million total, including digital learning resources such as interactive games and apps for children and educators.
"The proposal for this project was published by the U.S. Department of Education at the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Momo Hayakawa, the project director for "Mashopolis," in a press release.
“Our project team at TPT wanted to propose a trans-media research and engagement plan that considered factors ensuring all young children, especially children from disadvantaged communities, have access to the educational tools and resources of “Mashopolis” to help them prepare not just for school readiness, but also lifelong learning."