Los Angeles Business Journal

Reading Rainbow Gets Digital Reboot

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Actor LeVar Burton and his Burbank digital publishing company, RRKidz, have launched a $1 million Kickstarter campaign to create a Web version of Reading Rainbow’s educational app.

The company owns the Reading Rainbow brand, which became popular as a PBS kids show hosted by Burton.

RRKidz has a free version of the app, which gives users limited access to a vast array of children’s books and video field trips. Consumers can pay $9.99 a month for unlimited access.

If the campaign is successful, RRKidz will also design an educator-specific version for Web and mobile, which will be made available for free to 1,500 classrooms.

“We will modify our tablet app to meet the new classrooms version,” RRKidz co-founder and Chief Executive Mark Wolfe wrote to the Business Journal in an email, “and we will build from scratch the Web-based classroom version.”

Much of the Kickstarter funding will go toward subsidizing the cost of the program for schools in low-income areas that receive federal Title 1 subsidies.

Wolfe said other schools would be charged fees, allowing RRKidz to cover overhead, including staff, book royalties and technical development.

RRKidz received $2 million in seed funding from Raymonds Capital and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in 2011.