Preschool Years


AmGradIcon-ResourcesBuilding a foundation for school success starts with the earliest days of life. Early childhood education is a major focus of PBS so we have lots of resources to share. KLRU also has deep connections with the Central Texas early childhood educational community.

If you are looking for quality early childhood programs for your child, or to help you raise your child or someone else’s, we suggest you call United Way’s 211 telephone number. They receive current information on open slots in high-quality child care programs, home visiting programs, and parent/family workshops.  They can also provide information on how to get support for more basic life needs, such as:

  • hunger
  • curious georgehomelessness
  • medical care
  • mental health care
  • vision/hearing

This tool provides ideas for building children’s readiness for Kindergarten:

E3 School Readiness Parent Guide 

Are you a parent, teacher, or educator looking for fun, safe, high-quality educational media for kids?  KLRU Kids has games, videos and much, much more. 

For more fun and learning with young children, we suggest the following free/low-cost options:

smart screen time

Watch videos about work being done locally in early childhood education.

Ways Adults Can Help


Take the next step, get involved!  Adults make a world of difference to a child’s educational achievement. Having adults who are both caring and consistent can help keep youth on the path to graduation. Be a mentor!

Programs that have a mentoring component:

enrollmentPaid Opportunities
Americorps– engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. (MS/HS)
Breakthrough-provides out-of-school learning and academic case management for middle school-college students
CARY– (Council on At Risk Youth)- partners with school districts, youth service agencies, universities and juvenile justice agencies toward achievement of the objectives of prevention of youth violence, drug abuse and delinquency. (MS/HS)
College Forward-builds trust, bolster motivation, and deliver personalized strategies that help each student get into and complete college. For 11th grade-college students.

alexander-christouVolunteer Opportunities
ACE (Architecture. Construction. Engineering)-Students in the ACE program typically work closely with their mentors on projects that provide hands-on experience in solving the types of design, engineering and construction challenges industry professionals confront every day. (HS)
Austin Partners in Education– APIE mentors work one-on-one and help students improve their social and study skills, strengthen their communication skills, and build self-confidence (any grade within Austin ISD). 
Big Brother, Big Sister– nurture children and strengthen communities through an array of programs such as the Community Based Program, Juvenile Justice Initiative, School-to-Community Program, Military Mentoring and Program Building Our Future – The Bennett-Rathgeber Mentoring Center. (all ages) 
Court Appointed Special Advocates CASA– volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. (all ages)
E4 Youth– helps bridge the gap between underserved youth and creative commercial arts careers; Identify, nurture, and promote talent through training, mentoring and internships. (MS/HS)
Explore Austin– combines the benefits of mentoring and outdoor adventure in a six-year program for underserved youth (6th-12th grade).
ICUSP– to promote academic achievement and child well-being in central Texas by bringing together resources from the local community, the University of Texas, and local schools.  (MS/HS)
OutYouth– promotes the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well being of sexual and gender minority youth so that they can openly and safely explore and affirm their identities. (MS/HS)
Project Males– (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) This project connects undergraduate students from the University of Texas at Austin with Austin-area high school males. (HS)
Southwest Key Programs– connects adults with youth who are involved or at risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system. (10-17 yrs).
VICTORY– (Volunteers In Communities Tutoring Our Responsible Youth) Offers free tutoring to students at designated branches of the Austin Public Library. Students are matched on a 1:1 basis with volunteers from the greater Austin community (1st-12th grade).  
YES (Youth Empowerment & Success) Mentoring-Partnerships for Children– aimed at improving youth’s self-esteem and enhancing their ability to make responsible decisions through training, mentoring and financial support. (MS/HS) 
Youth Advocacy– a service-minded group of people focused on intervention services and substance abuse prevention with a primary focus on children and their families in urban and low-income areas (10-14 yrs of age and reside in or go to school in 78744).

Programs with a particular focus on either boys or girls: 

COBRA- (Community of Brothers in Revolutionary Alliance) is a mentoring program for high school boys (9th -12th grade).
Communities In Schools: XY-ZONE Program
– supports and guides adolescent males as they journey into manhood.  It is a leadership development and peer support program that develops productive life skills in high school-age, at-risk males.
Project MALES– (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) This project connects undergraduate students from the University of Texas at Austin with Austin-area high school males.
100 Black Men of Austin –  to improve the quality of life and enhance educational and economic opportunities for all African Americans. (all ages) 

Girls:Explorer DC 6
Ann Richards School– an all-girls public school for the Austin Independent School District (6th-12th grade). 
Con Mi Madre-Young Latinas and their mothers enroll and are offered an array of services including: mother-daughter conferences, college visits, campus meetings, community service activities, counseling, and mentoring throughout the year (6th- 12th grade).
GENAustin to support and guide girls to make wise choices as they navigate the unique pressures of girlhood (3rd-12th grade).
Girl Start– Provides a year-round, intensive suite of STEM education programs (K-12 girls).
Latinitas– empower Latina youth through media and technology (12-17 yrs).
VOICES-(Verbally Outspoken Individuals Creating Empowered Sisters) is an academic leadership program for high school girls (9th-12th grade).

Watch videos about the difference adult participation can make.

For more information about mentoring programs in Central Texas, search the Youth Services Mapping database.



Pathways to Success

The road to success is paved differently for everyone but thankfully, Central Texas offers many different pathways and supports toward high school graduation and beyond.

Local programs that work directly with educators, families and youth to support youth, strengthen families, and improve schools: 

  • busAfrican American Youth Harvest Foundation offers programs and scholarships for African American youth and support for their families (K-12)
  • AchieveTexas – from the Texas Education Agency, guidance for 16 different career pathways (HS)
  • Austin Justice Coalition offers Saturday Schools for HS-age African-American Youth
  • Austin Voices for Education & Youth building community, family and youth leaders in schools, providing families additional supports to keep kids in school and healthy (MS/HS)
  • AVANCE – Austin  training and support for Spanish-speaking families with young child (ages 2-4)
  • AVID prepares students for college starting in their MS/HS courses
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas connects youth with adult mentors and supports the pairs in their experiences (ES/MS/HS)
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of the Austin Area offers affordable/free after-school and summer programs that focus on academic success, physical health, developing community, and providing service to others (ES/MS/HS)
  • Breakthrough Austin finds youth in 6th grade and supports them through entrance into college (MS/HS)
  • CARY helping youth who have problems with discipline/attendance get back on track (MS/HS)
  • Changing Expectations supports schools, parents, and youth with programs and information about Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) programs (K-12)
  • Claim Your Destiny  – workshop series for youth to develop their leadership skills and college readiness (HS)
  • College Forward pairs HS students with young adults who can support them through one year of college-ready study
  • Communities in Schools of Central Texas supporting youth and their families in low-income communities and schools (PreK-12)
  • Con Mi Madre uses the power of the Latina mother-daughter bond to help see girls through HS and college graduation (6th grade – college)
  • Creative Action supporting academic learning through arts, creativity and socioemotional programs in schools, in after-school programs, and in community events (PreK-12)
  • E3 Alliance RAISEup Texas – Helping middle schools in Central Texas advance student learning for all, but especially for students who struggle to learn key skills. (MS)
  • Financial Aid Saturdays offered by the Austin Chamber of Commerce help HS seniors and their families complete the necessary paperwork for financial assistance from the government and/or the colleges they hope to attend.
  • Foundation Communities affordable housing communities with afterschool programs and additional supports (PreK-12)
  • ICUSP (Institute for Community, University and School Partnerships) offers mentoring programs for youth of color (MS/HS)
  • Latinitas helps Latina girls and teens to develop their voices in journalism, media production, and life through after-school and summer programs (ages 11 and up)
  • MindPop helping schools use creative teaching and learning as a way to build student success (PreK-12)
  • Muslim Youth of North America – Austin Chapter Young Muslim adults supporting Muslim teens as they navigate school and society (HS) 
  • No Place for Hate curriculum and support for schools to improve student harmony and decrease prejudice and bullying (PreK-HS)
  • 100 Black Men of Austin mentors African-American young men and offers workshops and additional resources for the whole family (MS/HS)
  • Project Males of the UT Division of Diversity and Community Engagement is a mentoring program for Latino males and males of color that uses its research to improve graduation rates for males of color for both high school and college (PK-college)
  • Skillpoint Alliance – STEM Innovation Camps for youth ages 3-14, and Velocity Prep Summer Programs that offer HS youth the chance to solve community problems using cutting-edge technology and smart strategies. (PreK-12)
  • University Leadership Initiative is led by undocumented students at local colleges and universities. They share current information with undocumented high school students about their post-graduation options and how to prepare for college life. (HS)
  • Upward Bound at Texas State University works with local HS students from low-income and first generation HS families to develop their skills and confidence to succeed in college
  • YMCA offers free and low-cost programs for kids and families ages 2 and up, including preschool readiness, after-school care through 5th grade, and programs for teens. Contact your local YMCA to see what programs they offer (ages 2-adult).

Alternative pathways to a high school diploma:ExcelCenterGrad



Programs with a focus on health and well-being for youth and their families:

  • BRAIN DRAIN for webCaritas fights poverty, hunger, and homelessness
  • Foundation Communities offers affordable housing and additional family services
  • Life Works assists families and individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, abuse, and family conflict
  • The Settlement Home provides housing and support to youth removed from their families
  • Urban Roots uses food and farming to help youth inspire, engage, and nourish their communities
  • Ventanilla de Salud offers health education, free health screenings, and referrals to community health services in partnership with the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin.

Other National Programs and Resources

Boys & Girls Club East

  • Better Make Room a text-message based program that helps HS youth get ready for college
  • Big Future college preparation for undocumented students (HS)
  • Jack Kent Cooke Foundation college connections and funding for highly gifted HS youth
  • No Place for Hate curriculum and support for schools to improve harmony and decrease prejudice (PreK-12)
  • Phoenix House individualized, holistic drug and alcohol addiction treatment

Watch videos about students on the path to success.

For more information about programs for youth in Central Texas, search the Youth Services Mapping database.

Summer Learning Day with KLRU Kids!

28314200065_ccf1e7b6ab_zKLRU Educational Services visited three partner sites yesterday to deliver summer learning fun to kids. All received an armful of fun summer learning materials, including PBS Kids activity books, picture/chapter books, puzzle cubes pointing to free KLRU/PBS Kids apps and websites, and Pete the Cat headbands!

Summer Learning Day is a national event led by the National Summer Learning Association designed to highlight the importance of keeping kids learning, safe and healthy every summer.

#keepkidslearning #klrukids

Resources for the dog days

If you have been hearing this as of late (or maybe since school let out), realize that letting kids remain bored for a while can actually lead to them developing their own creative solutions. If you have given that a try and a) your home is damaged as a result; or b) they really need help finding something new to do, check out this link:


KLRU Kids Cake

We aIMG_7854-KLRUre amazed at this three-tier “chocoflan” from the kitchen of Anacleta and her daughter Adriana. They made it to help celebrate their graduation from KLRU’s Play to Learn program at Padrón Elementary in Austin.
This school year, we have had over 200 participants in Play to Learn, a ten-week program for adults and their children ages 2-4 in which they explore a variety of ways to have fun together in activities that are great preparation for future school life. Along the way, they pick up lots of resources to continue the fun at home and on the go, including books, paints and markers, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab loaded with educational apps.

We love Play to Learn, we love Anacleta and Ana, and we love cake!

Austin Teacher Receives National PBS Recognition!

2013 ADE North America InstitutePBS LearningMedia has just announced its 2016 National Digital Innovators, and for the second consecutive year, an outstanding faculty member from Westlake High School is on the list. Lisa Johnson is Westlake HS’s Educational Technologist, helping teachers fold cutting-edge digital media into instruction and student creations. Her passion for teaching + technology has resulted in her alter ego “TechChef.” As TechChef, Lisa maintains a TechChef4u blog, Co-hosts “Appy Hours 4 U” and “iVengers Radio”, and has co-authored the professional development ebook “Hot Apps 4 HOTS” with close to 20,000 international downloads.

As a LEAD Innovator, Johnson will travel to Denver to meet with Digital Innovators from across the country in order to share practices and advise PBS LearningMedia on effective uses.

Johnson’s own boys have grown up with Dinosaur Train, WordWorld, and Curious George. Her latest LearningMedia favorite is the Masterpiece Collection, both the original version and the Pinterest variation.

PBS-LearningMedia-Vertical-High-ResView the complete list of 2016 Digital Innovators here.

PBS LearningMedia provides PreK-12 educators with access to free digital content and professional development opportunities designed to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Currently, the site has over 100,000 resources from the PBS Archives and other important sources such as the National Archives. Learn more about this program at


Update (April 13, 2016): An additional five local educators have been named Digital Innovators as well for 2016-2017. They are:

  • Mitch Fairchild – Sci-Tech Preparatory, Austin
  • Claire Grant – Lanier High School, Austin ISD
  • Diane Hance – Grisham Middle School, Round Rock ISD
  • Angela Tackett – Harmony School of Political Science and Communication, Austin
  • Ryan Torbey – Harmony School of Science, Austin

This group will receive one free year of online professional development options from PBS LearningMedia.

Caring, consistent adults key to child success

Adults make a world of difference to a child’s educational achievement, and the greatest difference comes from adults who are both caring and consistent in their learners’ lives. Scroll down from this post to read and watch stories of local American Graduate Champions making a difference for kids of all ages. And here are some quick links to resources for your family ….

Watch videos about the difference adult participation can make.

KLRU partners that have mentorship programs and other ways adults can get involved:

African American Youth Harvest Foundation
American Corps Austin
Ann Richards School Foundation
Austin Chambers
Austin Partners in Education
Austin Voices for Education & Youth
AVANCE – Austin
Bastrop Education Foundation
Big Brother, Big Sister
Boys & Girls Club
Boys to Men Mentoring
Breakthrough Austin
Change Happens
Changing Expectations
Claim Your Destiny
College Forward
Communities in Schools of Central Texas
Con Mi Madre
Court Appointed Special Advocates CASA
Creative Action
Explore Austin
Foundation Communities
Girl Start
Life Works
Media Awareness Project
Partnerships for Children
Project Males
Seedling Foundation
Southwest Key Programs
The Settlement Home
Upward Bound at Texas State University
Urban Roots

Early education sets standard for future success

Early education is a key to creating a lifelong dedication to knowledge. KLRU supports community efforts to encourage early childhood education, one of the tenets of American Graduate Initiative. Scroll down from this post to read and watch stories of local American Graduate Champions making a difference in early childhood education in our area. And here are some quick links to resources for your family ….

KLRU Kids has games, videos and much more to help kids find a love for learning.

Watch videos about work being done locally in early childhood education.

KLRU Partners offering early childhood resources:
ACC Children’s Lab School
Any Baby Can
Child Inc
Extend a Care for Kids
JCC – Jewish Family planning
Literacy Coalition of Central Texas
One Voice
Open Door
KLRU Smart Screen Time
KLRU Smart Screen Time (Spanish version)
SSP Early Childhood Education
United Way