Kids across the nation will be able to continue visiting Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood thanks to funding from Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid Foundation.
Daniel Tiger is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger, a puppet in the original Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired on PBS. The younger Daniel wears a red cardigan and his friends are related to the original characters.
Bill Isler, CEO of the Fred Rogers Company, said there’s a lot of money involved in running the animated program. An 11-minute segment costs about $500,000.
Since the show launched in 2012, the Fred Rogers Company has relied on foundation support and now, for the first time, will use $2 million in corporate funding from the Rite Aid Foundation.
The corporation’s Kid Cents initiative gives customers the option of rounding their purchase to the nearest dollar at checkout. The extra change is donated to nonprofits providing for children’s health and well-being.
Isler said it's important children have access to educational programing, and it’s equally important parents have quality options for their child’s screen time. In addition to production costs, the grant will also support the show’s website where episodes can be streamed for free.
“While they watch Daniel, preschoolers are learning how to cope with (feelings); how feeling sad, feeling disappointed, how to cooperate and listen, how to have empathy and understand and respect differences between people,” he said.
Isler said these are skills children from all socio-economic classes need to have before they enter school.
“Fred’s gentle, kind and developmentally appropriate approach to helping children, understanding their feelings, adapting to change, learning through new experiences and being part of a community live on through Daniel, his family and his friends,” Isler said.
Jerlean Daniel, a member of the Fred Rogers Company’s board and former executive director of the National Association of Young Children, said children learn best when they feel they are in a safe environment.
“Where it’s OK to make mistakes and try things out, to learn, to practice,” she said. “In this preschool space, understanding and anticipating the range of feelings children have and giving them strategies for managing those feelings. That’s what Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood does.”
The Fred Roger’s company is working on the third season of the show, produced mostly in Pittsburgh, with 20 new half-hour episodes.