Mission and HistoryMission
Annenberg Learner's mission is to "Advance Excellent Teaching in American Schools." We have pursued this mission for more than three decades by funding and distributing multimedia resources for teachers (K-12 and college levels) to teach their subjects and to stay up-to-date in their fields. As our name Annenberg Learner implies, we focus on the teacher as a learner, as well as the student as a learner. In fact, all adults who are lifelong learners have enjoyed and benefited from using our resources.
The formal agreement creating the Annenberg/CPB Project, a vision of Walter H. Annenberg, businessman, philanthropist, and Ambassador to the Court of St. James in Britain, was signed by representatives of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and The Annenberg School of Communications on February 26, 1981. The $150 million project was an outgrowth of Ambassador Annenberg's abiding commitment to education and was inspired by the British Open University, which had provided educational opportunities to students in Great Britain. Ambassador Annenberg wanted to provide these same opportunities to the American public. The Annenberg/CPB Project brought high-level production values together with leading scholarship to create some of the best-known and well-used educational series/college level courses on public television. A handful of these include The Mechanical Universe...and Beyond, Discovering Psychology, The Western Tradition, Destinos, and French in Action.
In 1990, amid the national efforts to improve education, especially in mathematics and science, the Annenberg/CPB Project shifted its focus and funding to the K-12 level as the Annenberg/CPB Math and Science Project. Initially the Math and Science Project cast its net widely, creating resources to help schools reform their teaching and administrative practices in support of math and science education. Later, it became evident that the most enduring locus of change would be at the classroom level and that teachers needed to see what different approaches to teaching looked like. The Math and Science Project then funded the creation of video libraries and professional development workshops on math and science education for elementary through high school teachers to demonstrate effective teaching and help teachers refine their own practices.
The 1990s not only ushered in a change in teaching practices and standards, but also a major shift in the use of technology in the schools. New digital platforms in broadcasting and broadband in computing meant that schools could move beyond videotape as a medium for bringing video content into their classes, and teachers could use the systems for professional development. In response, The Annenberg/CPB Math and Science Project expanded to include professional development resources in the humanities, arts, and social sciences and altered its name to Annenberg/CPB. As Annenberg/CPB, it created a satellite-delivered digital television channel that made thousands of hours of programs freely available to schools and communities through non-commercial broadcast outlets. As computers moved beyond technology labs and into classrooms and teachers' homes, Annenberg/CPB streamed the channel programming through the Internet. Eventually the demand for streamed programs outpaced the use of the broadcast by schools, so the broadcast service was replaced by video on demand (VoD) of all programs available 24/7 through Learner.org with accompanying digital Web sites.
As Annenberg/CPB entered the 21st Century, the commitment from The Annenberg Foundation did not end, even though the original agreement with CPB did. After the passing of Ambassador Annenberg in 2002, his wife Leonore Annenberg committed to keep the project going by incorporating it into the Foundation in 2003 as Annenberg Learner. After the passing of Leonore Annenberg in 2008, the leadership of the Foundation advanced to the next generation of the Annenberg family — Wallis Annenberg and her children, Lauren, Gregory, and Charles. The core values of the Annenberg Foundation reflect those of the past — to advance public well being through improved communications — and also reflect the personal values of the Annenberg family ‐ community involvement, openness and approachability. Today Annenberg Learner combines Ambassador and Leonore Annenberg's commitment to education with the Annenberg Foundation's growing interest in many diverse areas.