PBS Announces New Shows Including “Alma’s Way” and DEI Initiatives

PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger announced new diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives for the public broadcasting company today, along with news about new and returning programs.



PBS’ New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives:

  • PBS and CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) will award $5.5 million over the course of three years to Firelight Media, the non-profit filmmaking company founded by Stanley Nelson and Marcia Smith. The grant will support:  
    • The Firelight Documentary Lab— Firelight Media’s flagship 18-month mentoring program which supports filmmakers from a project’s conception through its completion— will expand the number of filmmakers in each cohort.
    • Groundwork Regional Labs will serve 40 early career filmmakers in partnership with local stations.
    • Digital short films will be commissioned from Documentary Lab and Groundwork fellows or alumni and other regional BIPOC filmmakers for the PBS system.
  • Updated producing criteria will roll out across all PBS platforms, including PBS General Audience Programming, PBS Digital Studios and PBS KIDS. Reporting and accountability are essential to advancing PBS’s mission to serve and represent all communities.
  • PBS will require producers to provide their own diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plan as a deliverable at the proposal stage and for all new agreements, series renewals and direct to PBS programs.
  • With support from CPB, PBS Digital Studios will establish three Regional Digital Centers of Innovation to build its digital capacity and create a new pipeline of multi-platform content, including YouTube, Facebook, TikTok and IGTV in the spring of 2022.
  • PBS TERRA, the network’s science-themed hub on YouTube, will launch an ambitious new slate of STEM content with support from the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program.
  • Cecilia Loving joins PBS as the Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Reporting directly to President and CEO Paula Kerger, Loving will develop organizational strategy, provide ongoing advice and counsel, and cultivate future partnerships for PBS.  

PBS’ New Programming Announcements:

  • The Great American Recipe – Coming Summer 2022.
    • An Uplifting cooking competition that celebrates the multiculturalism that makes American food unique and iconic. Hosted by Alejandra Ramos, the new eight-part series will give talented home cooks from different regions of the country the opportunity to showcase their beloved signature dishes and compete to win the national search for “The Great American Recipe.” Judges Leah Cohen, Tiffany Derry and Graham Elliot will bring their professional insights and deep culinary knowledge to encourage and support the contestants along the way. The series premieres in summer 2022 on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS Video app. 
  • American Masters : “Ailey– Tuesday, January 11, 2022, at 9:00 p.m. on PBS.
    • A portrait of the legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey (1931-1989), a trailblazing pioneer who founded his influential studio Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958 at age 27. The documentary traces the full contours of this brilliant and enigmatic man whose search for the truth in movement resulted in enduring choreography that centers on the Black American experience with inimitable grace and power. Told through the choreographer’s own words and featuring evocative archival footage and interviews with those close to him, director Jamila Wignot weaves together a resonant biography that connects Ailey’s past to our present with an intimate glimpse into the Ailey studios today, following innovative hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris as he conceives a new dance, “Lazarus,” inspired by Ailey’s life.
  • Nature Season 40 – Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. Beginning October 20th.
    • Season 40 premieres with “My Garden of a Thousand Bees,” which follows wildlife cameraman Martin Dohrn, who filmed all the bees he could find in his tiny urban garden in Bristol, England, during the COVID-19 lockdown. By the end of the summer, Dohrn saw more than 60 species of bees and unlocked new knowledge about the diversity of personalities in this insect family.
  • PBS Kids’ Alma’s Way – Premieres October 4th
    • A new animated series from Fred Rogers Productions created by Sonia Manzano, beloved by generations as “Maria” on Sesame Street, who broke new ground as one of the first Latino characters on national TV. Inspired by Manzano’s own childhood, Alma’s Way centers on 6-year-old Alma Rivera, a proud, confident Puerto Rican girl who lives in the Bronx with her family among a diverse group of close-knit friends and community members. Infused with Manzano’s humor and grounded in a social and emotional curriculum, the series will give children ages 4-6 the tools to find their own answers, express what they think and feel, and recognize and respect the unique perspective of others.