The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation has announced this year's four winners of the Eighth Annual Fred Rogers Memorial Scholarship program at the Fred Forward Conference held in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The scholarship was established to honor the memory of children's presenter and the host of a long-running PBS program Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. and is awarded to those who bring the most dedication and creativity to the idea of childhood education and development using the media.
On hand, to celebrate this year's recipients — Alexandra Castro KlarÃ©n, Kelly Lake, Tatenda Mbudzi and Kelly Whitney – was Joanne Rogers, the wife of the late Fred Rogers. At the celebratory reception, the winners received a $10,000 scholarship and also were assigned a mentor from the Academy's Children Programming Peer Group to guide them in the development of their ideas in the coming year.
The money to fund the scholarship awards was donated by Ernst & Young, LLP, who have been the leading sponsors of the scholarship program since it first began. The company serves as the leading auditor of media and entertainment enterprises in the U.S. and around the world.
"Ernst & Young has a strong commitment to the education and mentoring of today's youth, so we are thrilled to provide funding for the Fred Rogers Memorial Scholarship," said Kimberlee Gillespie, Ernst & Young partner. "We share the Television Academy Foundation's mission to improve the quality of children's media, and look forward to seeing the contributions of the award recipients."
An additional $10,000 prize, sponsored by the Grable Foundation, was also awarded at the ceremony to Castro KlarÃ©n of the University of Pittsburgh. The Grable Foundation works to improve the lives of children in Pittsburgh, which is Fred Rogers' hometown. The scholarship is meant to be put towards study in the field of interactive children's media.
"The Television Academy Foundation is proud to honor these Fred Rogers Scholars, and as their careers progress, we look to them to make a positive impact in children's entertainment and children's educational media," said Television Academy Foundation Executive Director Norma Provencio Pichardo. "For years Fred Rogers inspired, entertained and educated children around the world and we know that these students have what it takes to continue his legacy."
After the conclusion of the dinner reception, the Fred Forward Conference continued until June 5th. The goal of the conference is to bring together experts in childhood development, education, technology, and media and brainstorm on ways to integrate digital and traditional media into childhood education in a productive and meaningful way.