A Reading Rainbow Appears Over Kickstarter

on Wednesday, May. 28th

It’s raining cash today on Kickstarter, all thanks to a rainbow, a Reading Rainbow.

The beloved children’s literacy program which had a decades-long run on public broadcasting has stormed Kickstarter with a million dollar crowdfunding campaign today. For the past few years a Reading Rainbow table app has been available, but now LeVar Burton and company have set their sights on reaching every child with a web connection, and every classroom with a revised, web savvy version of the show.

The campaign funds will fuel a web based version with thousands of books and hundreds of video field trips. Even better: the campaign will subsidize the cost for low income classrooms to access the curriculum tools that Reading Rainbow develops for free.

That warm glow you’re feeling is what crowdfunding is about at its best: bringing something worthwhile into the world and sharing it far and wide.

A million dollars is still a lot of money, but in the last fifteen minutes I’ve watched the campaign ticker jump up by more than $20,000. As of this writing, 4809 backers have pledged $232,244. That number will change by the time I hit publish.

This is a great moment for the crowdfunding movement, which in the past few months has started to be weighted down with tales of product delays, scams, and a general sense that the whole deal is just a fancy skin on the Internet’s favorite marketing tool: the pre-order. A campaign like Reading Rainbow‘s is a reminder that at the heart of crowdfunding is an alternate financial model for culture that has its roots in the PBS drives of our youth: a kind of “pay-it-forward” mentality.

And in the time it took to write that paragraph and find a header image? Standing at 5,058 backers and $243,354.

Disclosure: I happen to count two gentlemen who work for Reading Rainbow as friends. No, one of them is not LeVar Burton. I’m not that cool. Yet.


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