| May 1, 2001
This year’s Emmy Award for “Outstanding Educational Programming” went to “TV411,” a national half-hour television series that teaches adults basic educational skills. It is the second consecutive year that the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has honored “TV411.” Last year, the series garnered an “Outstanding Direction” Emmy for one of its segments.
“We are ecstatic that ‘TV411’ has been honored again this year,” said series Executive Producer Marian Lapsley Schwarz, accepting the award May 6 for Picture This Television and ALMA, a project of EDC. “This is a show with heart and purpose that helps millions of adults all over the country to create a better life for themselves. Receiving this award really encourages us to continue developing quality educational programming for an audience that often goes unnoticed.”
It is estimated that some 70 million American adults cannot compute, read, or write English well enough to seek a job promotion effectively, write a business letter, or help their children with homework. Moreover, the demands of work schedules, child-care responsibilities, and long waiting lists mean than fewer than 10% of these adults are able to attend literacy classes. “TV411” was created to give these adults the help they need, right in their own homes.
A new kind of program: educational and entertaining
“The fact that the Academy has recognized us with their highest honor in each of the two years since our premiere is tremendously validating,” continued Schwarz. “It helps us to realize that our show has created a niche for itself in the landscape of educational television. Our vision was always to create a new kind of program—one that is educational and entertaining—and I think we can say that we’ve successfully realized that goal.”
“TV411” features celebrities and real-life adult learners discussing practical strategies to improve their reading, writing, and math skills. Segments have included Dennis Franz from “NYPD Blue” discussing how to get meaning from a newspaper article, the Dallas Cowboys using football to explain decimals and percentages, and an “Oprah”-inspired book club series. To date, more than 100 PBS stations—including eight of the top ten markets—have committed to broadcasting “TV411.”
“TV411” is produced by ALMA—the Adult Literacy Media Alliance— and Picture This Television, owned by the award-winning producing team of Marcia Mulé and Bryan Scott. A not-for-profit organization, ALMA combines the power of popular media—television, video, print, and the Internet—with grassroots outreach to teach adults essential life skills at home, at work, and in community centers. In addition to “TV411” the television series, ALMA produces a series of educational videocassettes and accompanying material, a magazine-style workbook (“TV411 in Print”), an educational Web site, and a training institute for adult educators across the country.