Reading Rainbow is most backed Kickstarter project ever

Faith Merino · June 30, 2014 · Short URL:

While Pebble raised the most money, Reading Rainbow garnered the most contributors

If you’ve had the Reading Rainbow theme song stuck in your head for the last month since we all learned about the Kickstarter campaign, you best click away now because I’m about to bust out with butterfly in the skyyyyyy, I can fly twice as hiiiiiiigh….

Reading Rainbow host (and Jordy, and Kunte Kinte) LeVar Burton tweeted Monday that Reading Rainbow has become the most backed campaign in Kickstarter history.

The campaign has raised some $4.5 million from more than 92,000 backers, and counting. The campaign ends on Wednesday, but the next $1 million in donations will be doubled by “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane.

Reading Rainbow ended its 23-year run in 2006. Reruns ran until PBS cancelled the show entirely in 2009. In 2012, Burton created the Reading Rainbow app, and in its first year, subscribers viewed over 2.5 million books. And that was with virtually no marketing.

The app startup, RRKidz, was funded by Raymonds Capital and the Kauffman Foundation.

Last month, professional troll publication The Washington Post published an article calling into question Reading Rainbow’s popularity. Specifically, the article asked “if Reading Rainbow was so popular, why was it cancelled?”

Well, if the paper had bothered to ask LeVar Burton, he would have pointed out that Reading Rainbow was still the most widely used television resource in classrooms up until its cancellation, which came down to priorities set by the No Child Left Behind Act.

“That government policy made a choice between teaching the rudiments of reading and fostering a love of reading. So the idea that I am trying to somehow revive a failed endeavor is bullshit. That’s right. I said it. Bullshit." (And the world loves LeVar Burton just a little bit more.)

The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign reached its $1 million goal in just 24 hours, and the video of LeVar Burton’s tearful reaction went viral soon thereafter (and now I’m tearing up again just thinking about it). The campaign aims to revive Reading Rainbow as a Web-based platform and deliver all of the content for free to schools.

While Reading Rainbow has garnered the most backers, it has not raised the most funding. That honor went to Pebble, which raised more than $10 million from some 69,000 backers in 2012.

Interestingly, however, since Reading Rainbow was dubbed one of the top five Kickstarter projects of all time, each of the four other projects—Pebble, Veronica Mars, OUYA, and Pono—have stepped in to help by creating rewards exclusively for Reading Rainbow contributors. For example, 500 contributors who throw down $140 will get a Pebble smartwatch. 


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