July 8th, 2014

News: Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign ends at $5.4 million

Reading Rainbow flies past Kickstarter goal; ends at $5.4 million

On July 2nd, the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign ended with more backers than any previous project on the crowdfunding website. The campaign went viral within minutes of its initial launch, and blew past the initial goal of $1,000,000 in eleven hours.

Upon seeing the positive reaction from backers, many of whom grew up watching the show in the 1980s and 90s, LeVar Burton and the staff at Reading Rainbow created a stretch goal of $5,000,000. If achieved, it would allow the team to do the following:

  • Enable more platforms to access to the Reading Rainbow service, which originally was only available in an iPad app, including a web version and apps for Android, Xbox, Playstation, and set-top boxes

  • Provide free year-long subscriptions to 13,000 underfunded schools and libraries

  • Continue developing new content for the Reading Rainbow subscription service

Many celebrities got involved with the campaign. Several of Burton’s former Star Trek castmates agreed to participate in special live events while Seth MacFarlane pledged to match up to $1, 000,000. At the end of the campaign, Kickstarter backers had pledged $5,408,916 while an additional $70,000 was donated outside of the site. Combined with MacFarlane’s donation, Reading Rainbow ultimately ended with $6,478,916. Several of Kickstarter’s most successful past campaigns also contributed rewards for backers, including Pebble smart watches and Ouya game consoles.

Of course, a good chunk of that money will go to paying for the many backer rewards. A wide variety of goods were available: shirts, stickers, mugs, tote bags, picnic blankets, calendars, DVDs of “classic” Reading Rainbow episodes, headshots of LeVar Burton, and more. Many of the rewards were Star Trek themed, while others tapped into Burton’s celebrity by offering dinners and picnics with the Reading Rainbow host or visits to the set of his current TV show, Perception. My favorite reward (which I sadly couldn’t afford to select) offered backers the chance to “adopt” a local school, gifting them with Reading Rainbow classroom subscriptions and school assemblies.

Still, even after paying out Kickstarter’s fee and the cost of backer rewards, Reading Rainbow succeeded in raising more money than I think anyone expected. I’m looking forward to hearing more about what the team at Reading Rainbow has planned in the next few months.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2013: A Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice #1) by George R. R. Martin
2012: Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim #2) by Anne Rice
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while
2010: The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
2009: Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
2008: The Heartbreak Diet by Thorina Rose