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'Reading Rainbow' raises $1M in 11 hours

POSTED: June 5, 2014 6:00 a.m.
LeVar Burton/

LeVar Burton

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LOS ANGELES — A Kickstarter campaign to fund an online version of the iconic "Reading Rainbow" program surpassed its goal of $1 million in less than 12 hours, and the donations keep coming in.
The campaign to bring "Reading Rainbow," a well-known TV program that ran on PBS from 1983 to 2009, to more kids through an online platform was launched Wednesday and quickly went viral, raising more than $1.5 million by the end of the day. By midday Thursday, more than $2 million had been donated by 46,000 backers.
"We all dreamed and believed we could hit $1 million in the 35 days of the campaign … but never, ever did we imagine you would get us there in 11 hours," wrote Mark Wolfe of Reading Rainbow on the Kickstarter page.
The new web version of the show is being spearheaded by star LeVar Burton, who is also known for his role as Forge on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and Kunta Kinte on "Roots." Burton owns the rights to "Reading Rainbow," according to The Washington Post.
A video posted on the Kickstarter page Thursday shows Burton tearing up as he thanks supporters for funding his project so quickly.
During its 26-year run on PBS, "Reading Rainbow" won 26 Emmys and a Peabody Award. Since the show was cancelled, Burton has continued to promote the product, with a Reading Rainbow app being released for tablets in 2012. He said the app has been successful, but that he wants to do more.
"Our goal is to cultivate a love of reading in all children, not just those that have tablets," the campaign description reads. "To reach kids everywhere, we need to be everywhere: We need to be on the web."
The Reading Rainbow website will be provided free of charge in "disadvantaged classrooms," according to the Kickstarter campaign. Since the $1 million goal has been reached, campaigners say plans are in place to give access to more than 1,500 classrooms.
Other families and schools will be able to subscribe to the service for a fee — backers can currently pre-order subscriptions through the Kickstarter campaign, with donations starting at $25.
Incentives for backers range from a private dinner with Burton, for a donation of $3,500, to a "thank you" tweet from @ReadingRainbow, for a $10 donation. Other prizes include signed copies of Burton's soon-to-be-released children's book, a personalized voicemail message from Burton for incoming calls and tickets to "Reading Rainbow Live!"
For $10,000, one backer can receive the Ultimate Star Trek Geordi's Visor package, which includes a private dinner with Burton and chance to wear the visor he sported during his role on "Star Trek." The other $10,000 option — the chance to have Burton come present an assembly and meet-and-greet at the school of the donor's choice — has already sold out.
The Kickstarter campaign runs until July 2.

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