LeVar Burton: Building ‘The Next Generation’ Of Readers

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The actor, who made his name as “Kunta Kinte” in the 1977 miniseries Roots and, later, as “Geordi La Forge” in the long-running TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, credits his 19-year-old daughter, Michaela, with the crowd-funding idea. “Michaela is of this generation, a digital native. She said, ‘Why don’t you guys just do a Kickstarter?’ As a 30-year-old brand, if we were to very publicly ask for money, then fail, it would’ve probably been game over.” But that never happened and they raised over their goal in a shorter amount of time that anyone could have predicted.

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At a time when 66% of American fourth graders aren’t proficient in reading (source: 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)) and slightly more for African American children, the need for literacy-building programs is evident. Burton’s Kickstarter funds are being used to develop two subscription-based versions of a Reading Rainbow website: a home edition for kids and families, and a classroom version for teachers with accompanying lesson plans.

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“This is my mission—and has been for 30 years. My commitment to connect children to the magic of the written word is not likely to change any time soon.”

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