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The New Americans

THE NEW AMERICANS provided rich content for extending the educational and community impact of this PBS documentary mini-series, produced by Kartemquin Educational Films, to reach audiences that could act upon and benefit from the information. The project’s inclusive outreach campaign brought together three established outreach providers:  Outreach Extensions, Independent Television Service (ITVS), and the Television Race Initiative/Active Voice. This overview presents the work of Outreach Extensions.

Outreach Extension’s involvement in THE NEW AMERICAN’S outreach campaign was part of its design/implementation of the Making Connections Media Outreach Initiative (MCMOI) funded by The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Key issues that arose from the television series and the MCMOI included: diversity, faith, education, health, immigration laws/issues, access to services, housing, employment, adult literacy and economic literacy. Broad outreach goals focused on fostering better understanding and encouraging constructive action that could lead to stronger families and communities as well as a more inclusive society. Engaging 22 cities, the MCMOI linked stations to local stakeholders, which served various constituencies, as a means to strengthen families and build effective communities through the use of media-based resources and strategies.

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Technical Assistance by Outreach Extensions
Stations benefited from highly tailored one-on-one technical assistance from Outreach Extensions, which helped stations with planning, implementation and evaluation. This effort also helped stations to develop effective bridge-building strategies to link the campaign to their stations’ priority initiatives as well as to the community work of the Making Connections Initiative organizations. Information was customized to the specific needs of the station and outreach staff. To help everyone succeed, Outreach Extensions facilitated sharing among stations -- to build a supportive network and help them to learn from one another

Workshop for Parents/Caregivers of Young Children: A workshop for outreach and Ready To Learn coordinators entitled “America, My New Home” assisted stations in their efforts to connect with Latino and immigrant communities. The workshop concentrated on new immigrant issues, focusing on parenting and family relationships during periods of transition. The curriculum was developed by the National Latino Children’s Institute in collaboration with Outreach Extensions, with input from THE NEW AMERICANS MCMOI Station Advisory Committee. The package of materials, including a children’s book, was distributed to MCMOI stations and Ready To Learn stations in September 2002.

“Flores Family” Video: To allow an early launch for the campaign as a means to engage communities in dialogue, the story of the Flores family (Pedro and Ventura and their six children) episode of THE NEW AMERICANS was available to MCMOI stations in October 2002. Their story was one of family reunification as well as their preparations to immigrate. Emotionally, they also had to deal with change and uncertainty, their sense of loss in leaving home and family behind, and their hope for a better life in America. To support community dialogue, a set of questions was developed related to the episode. These highlighted supports and services, social networks, and economic opportunities. Since a loss of social capital is often a consequence of moving to a new country, an additional exercise for parents helped them to focus on building social networks to help their children gain a better start in their new neighborhoods.

Community Engagement Activities

Public television stations worked with Making Connections neighborhoods to engage and empower residents around issues related to immigration. Here are some sample projects:

  1. Iowa Public Television
    Iowa PTV planned to conduct a two-phase project: 1. The station broadcast the Flores family’s story in November 2002 along with a LIVING IN IOWA special and four “Latino Encounters” as part of its fall election/voting initiative project. 2. IPTV built on the success of its AMERICAN FAMILY Ready To Learn workshops by conducting “America, My New Home” workshops in the Making Connections neighborhoods. An important outcome was to help children succeed in school through helping parents and childcare providers increase children’s school readiness.
  2. KLRN/San Antonio, TX
    KLRN offered Making Connections and community-based organizations (CBO) a menu of potential resources to help address the needs of immigrant (recent and 2nd/3rd generation) families. A responsive partnership was created in which KLRN provided resources related to THE NEW AMERICANS and other media projects. A screening/discussion of the Flores family story was held.
  3. KPBS/San Diego, CA
    KPBS convened organizations that assisted immigrants and refugees in San Diego to support their efforts to establish working partnerships as well as to engage them as an advisory group for the campaign. KPBS conducted “America, My New Home” Ready To Learn workshops (in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese) and provided resources dealing with immigrant issues on its Web site. KPBS also hosted a screening/discussion in a community venue.
  4. KQED/San Francisco (Oakland)
    Through THE NEW AMERICANS mapping survey, KQED identified several issues affecting immigrant communities in San Francisco. Desired outcomes for THE NEW AMERICANS campaign included fostering understanding among neighborhood residents, establishing connections with community-based organizations and social service agencies, building awareness of KQED’s community resources, creating convening models for the neighborhood to replicate, and building media literacy skills.
  5. Milwaukee Public TV
    In partnership with the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Center for International Education, Milwaukee PTV designed a new outreach project, “A Window on the World: Understanding the New Americans” to train Wisconsin teachers how to teach their students about the new immigrants entering the state. Milwaukee PTV, which regularly explores immigration issues, used its project funds to create new local production features, which represented the perspectives of diverse immigrants and showed some of the problems they faced.
  6. WFYI/Indianapolis
    WFYI used a series of activities/strategies to increase awareness of the immigration histories of Indianapolis residents as well as increased public dialogue and action about ways to welcome immigrants. Activities included Ready To Learn workshops, Children’s Museum event, a Family Strengthening Summit (including video of Indianapolis immigrant stories), and Share a Legacy Family History Day.
  7. Detroit Public Television
    Detroit Public Television produced five mini-profiles, which were broadcast in the months prior to THE NEW AMERICANS. These profiles consisted of recent immigrants to Detroit discussing their experiences and highlighting relevant community issues. DPTV featured people from the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The project raised awareness among the general population about conditions leading to migration to the U.S. and the experience of living in a new country.
  8. KCTS/Seattle, WA
    KCTS worked with the local Making Connections community to develop a comprehensive outreach plan. Building on the success it achieved in reaching Latino families through its AMERICAN FAMILY grant, KCTS and its sister-station KYVE in Yakima conducted “America, My New Home” Ready To Learn workshops. The station also hosted a screening of THE NEW AMERICANS for a more diverse group of recent immigrants and service providers.