About the Professor Garfield Foundation
Who We Are
The Professor Garfield Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational collaboration between Paws, Inc., the global headquarters for Garfield the Cat, and Ball State University, a nationally recognized leader in teacher training and digital education.
The Literacy Problem in the US
- Literacy is the foundation for all learning, yet nearly 40% of all fourth graders in the United States read below the basic level.
- 60% of all juvenile offenders have problems reading.
- 40% of adult Americans have trouble reading even simple things.
- The United States ranks 49th among 156 United Nations member countries in its literacy rate.
Our mission, therefore, is to be a world leader in the direct, free delivery of innovative and motivational digital learning content with a primary emphasis on children's literacy and creative expression.
Initially, we will accomplish this by creating fun and educationally sound interactive activities and games where kids like to play -- on the Internet -- supplemented with standards-based resources for teachers, parents and mentors.
Within ten years, we believe our edutainment site will be regarded as the leading free resource and authority in literacy as demonstrated by visitors, measurable outcomes, and global impact.
Foundation History and Current Status
To blend humor with the power of the Internet as an educational tool, Jim Davis came upon the idea of the Professor Garfield learning portal. Jim knew that three key ingredients were necessary to establish a solid foundation for the effort:
- Creative, humorous elements to engage the attention of learners.
- A nationally prominent educational institution to provide expertise in educational content, delivery, and assessment.
- Technological expertise.
For the first element, Jim knew that he could draw upon the resources of the creative powerhouse of Paws, Incorporated, the company he formed to own, manage, and direct the worldwide "Garfield" entertainment property, boasting the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world, and a licensing operation that reaches over 100 countries with more than 400 license agreements.
For the second and third elements, he needed to look no further than his alma mater, Ball State University. Ball State has both the capability and the commitment to guide the content development process and to enrich the product through its expertise in educational technology. The combined technology capacity of Paws and Ball State University bring to this product an unparalleled level of excellence.
The partnership between PGF, Paws, and Ball State guarantees that academic legitimacy is achieved in an entertaining format. The foundation has been set for a revolutionary educational experience for children of all ages. Paws provides exclusive licensing rights for use of the "Garfield" characters by this independent not-for-profit corporation, together with creative support, the intent and purpose of which is the establishment of the premier Internet portal with a free and enjoyable pathway to learning for children, parents, mentors, and educators. Ball State University will be primarily responsible for the selection and development of the educational content and assessment methodologies.
Our Educational Content Partners
Ball State University
With 950 full-time faculty and 20,600 graduate and undergraduate students, Ball State is a Carnegie Research Level I Intensive University with areas of excellence in teacher education, computer science, telecommunications, and digital media.
The University's expertise and long tradition in teacher education will ensure that ProfessorGarfield.com delivers an effective curriculum that is pedagogically sound. The University will provide the academic guidance and pedagogy to make sure that the content of the Professor Garfield website represents the very best academic curricula in the digital context along with appropriate assessment criteria. In addition to enrolling their staff and state-of-the-art technology, they will involve both graduate and undergraduate students in the development of Professor Garfield.
In addition, Ball State University is an international leader in digital technologies for education, as evidenced, for example, by its Center for Media Design (funded by two $20 million grants from Lilly Endowment), Teachers College (home of "the electronic field trip" sponsored by Best Buy), and "Digital Middletown" (a demonstration project testing exceptionally powerful broadband access connecting schools and homes in neighborhoods).
Paws, Incorporated is the creative force behind the worldwide "Garfield" entertainment property. Being the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world, Garfield is the perfect character to assist with interactive and off-line engaging educational content. Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield, has long held the belief that the comics are not only a way to a child's heart and funny bone, but also a student's brain. He has received literally thousands of letters expressing surprise and gratitude for the ability of Garfield and his humor to "hook" kids on reading and help struggling students.
Virginia Department of Education
PGF is proud to partner with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) in the creation of the Infinite Learning Lab, an online suite of standards-driven, animated, interactive lesson modules featuring Garfield. The lessons help teachers teach and reinforce core curriculum concepts in mathematics, science, and language arts for students in grades 3-6 and assist parents and other caregivers in other after school environments. Life skills topics ranging from Internet Safety to Respecting Diversity are also featured in a three-step format - WATCH, TRY, and APPLY - and allow teachers to track student progress and manage assignments down to the individual level.
Harvard University's Encyclopedia of Life
Professor Garfield teamed up with Harvard University based Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) in 2011 to explore how to bring the living natural world alive for school children and incorporate it into STEM learning activities. The Encyclopedia of Life is a free online resource that brings together scientifically reviewed information about all life on Earth and is an incredible resource for text, images, video, sounds, maps and more. Discover EOL tools and resources are freely available to anyone with access to the internet and can be used to customize the information for specific projects from scientific investigations to school projects to citizen science endeavors. Together we have worked on the Migrant Education Project (see Indiana Department of Education) and an Invasive Species Comic Contest the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) and the New York State Teacher Centers.
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)
The New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) has partnered with Professor Garfield for many years. NYIT’s goal of supporting student achievement by deepening educators’ knowledge and skills is a strong fit with the goals of PGF. NYIT provides valuable input to PGF in the area of professional development, instructional technology, collaborative partnerships, and meeting the diverse needs of 21st century learning. NYIT has engaged Through their Teacher Centers, NYIT has held a contest for students using the powerful X-Treme Comics tool to creatively address a topic important to the state of NY.
Indiana Department of Education
In 2011, PGF and the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) began a partnership to create an ELL Leveled Learning web site under the Title I, Part C Migrant Education Project. The site features social language modules presented in dialogues for ELL levels 1, 2 and 3 and K-8 academic language modules in science, mental math, and the language arts. We have created a robust visual dictionary featuring over 500 words that includes definitions, sentence usage, and photos and videos to enhance understanding. All content can be read and heard in both English and Spanish in real time. We look forward to a long term relationship with the IDOE to continue developing the 21st Century skills of all students and providing tools for ELL learners of all ages.
Pearson Digital Learning
Working side by side with educators for over 40 years, Pearson Digital Learning is the leader in technologies for proven, comprehensive curriculum, assessment, and enterprise data management. They have helped raise achievement for over 20 million learners in 50,000 schools worldwide and have contractually committed to showcase their Knowledge Box curricula on the Professor Garfield website. It is a digital learning system that lets students see, hear, learn, and do. It leverages the best digital media to teach reading/language arts, math, science, and social studies for pre-K through 6th grade students.
National Institute of Health
Garfield and the National Institutes of Health have created a complete educational module that promotes the benefits of getting a healthy night’s sleep. NIH felt that this was very important since so many children are going to school without getting the proper amount of sleep and cannot concentrate in class. Through a series of games and activities, Garfield teaches children the value of getting enough rest to maximize their productivity.
Red Grammer: Singer/Composer of Children's Music
Music is a universal language, and ProfessorGarfield.com features an outstanding advocate of children's music in the United States, Red Grammer. Red has been recording children's albums since 1983 and is a former member of the Grammy-nominated folk trio, the Limelighters. His recordings for children have been honored by Parents' Choice with a Classic Children's Audio Recording Award -- an award few albums ever achieve. Red has a unique talent for conveying messages of hope and giving voice to children's feelings -- entertaining, inspiring, and educating with every beat.
Teacher Gaming Network
After 15 years of developing interactive games for the K-12 classroom, the FTC Family of Companies has launched the Teacher Gaming Network. The Teacher Gaming Network (TGN) is an online resource where teachers can create and share interactive games, utilizing their curriculum content. Professor Garfield and TGN have partnered to offer Professor Garfield educators a customized online platform for creating their own games, and will even provide an opportunity for educators to add their own content to some of the most popular game activities from the Professor Garfield site.