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PBS Announces Bold Multiyear Look at Our Nation Called ‘PBS: America @ 250’

With Support from The Kern Family Foundation, PBS to Lead National Conversation on the Country’s Founding, Leading up to and Beyond New Ken Burns Film, ‘THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION’

WILLIAMSBURG, VA; MARCH 19, 2024 — Today, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger announced PBS: America @ 250 at “A Common Cause to All” convening at Colonial Williamsburg organized by VA 250 and attended by local and state organizations planning events timed to the 250th anniversary of the country’s founding in 2026.

Kerger was joined at the announcement by Sarah Botstein, a co-director with Ken Burns and David Schmidt of the much-anticipated film, “The American Revolution,” which is scheduled to air on PBS in the fall of 2025.

The six-part, twelve-hour series, which was written by Burns’s long-time collaborator Geoffrey Ward, is about the people who lived through America’s founding struggle, their experiences over eight difficult years of wartime, and how they set out to imagine a new country.

The series will interweave top-down accounts of American leaders and their loyalist and British counterparts with a range of perspectives from lesser-known soldiers and civilians — enslaved, free, and Native — who waged and witnessed the war. “The American Revolution” will be an expansive, unvarnished look at the virtues and contradictions of the fight for independence and the birth of the United States and how pivotal and groundbreaking this experiment in democracy was at the time and, by extension, throughout our history.

Leading up to the film, PBS will launch the largest engagement effort in the network’s history, activating events in more than 75 markets and working with 330-plus public television stations to engage with educators and a wide-range of local organizations to facilitate conversations about the country’s founding and the values associated with liberty, democracy, and self-governance. 

The Kern Family Foundation has provided PBS with a grant to support the outreach. Kern is also a funder of the film, along with Burns’s corporate underwriter, Bank of America, the Better Angels Society, and others.

The initiative, PBS: America @ 250, will launch in 2024 with programming leading up to the election this fall. In 2025, the network will expand programming across all platforms, designed to engage the country around history and civics. In addition to Burns’s film, the new content will be developed by PBS signature shows, PBS KIDS, and digital platforms. PBS stations will also explore these topics at the local level, creating programming to accompany national shows and convening conversations that connect community issues with larger national events. PBS: America @ 250 will examine every facet of American life from politics and history to science and the arts.

“This is a milestone PBS was made to celebrate,” said Kerger. “Over the next three years, PBS: America @ 250 will give all Americans the opportunity to reflect, come together, discuss, and debate what America means today, tomorrow, and for future generations.” 

Botstein, who joined Kerger at the announcement, added, “The origin and founding of America radically changed the world. By trying to understand what happened we can shine a light on the promises and possibilities for the country and our democracy.”

The second annual A Common Cause to All” event was organized by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (CWF) and the Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission (VA250) and convene more than 300 representatives from organizations across the country (including 35 U.S. states and Washington, DC) to discuss planning efforts for commemorating America’s 250th anniversary.

Thanks in part to The Kern Family Foundation grant, PBS will launch what Kerger called the “largest outreach effort in the network’s history” beginning in early 2025. The filmmakers will host screenings in 25 plus markets, beginning in Boston, Lexington, and Concord in April 2025, and screenings and conversations will take place in at least 50 additional markets, hosted by PBS Stations and local partners.

In addition to the events, PBS will work with national non-partisan partners to generate materials to support the film, including guides to facilitate conversation. These materials will be shared with state and local organizations around the country leading up to the broadcast and beyond, including throughout 2026, the 250th Anniversary, and later commemorations marking critical historical moments connected to our country’s founding.

PBS LearningMedia will also develop, in partnership with national educational organizations, materials for students and teachers to accompany the broadcast and beyond.  WETA, the Washington, DC public television station, and Burns’s long-time production partner, will also work with the network on station engagement and outreach.



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