Silicon Valley Saves 'Reading Rainbow' but Lacks Diversity

Latest data on power of Kickstarter and confusion in the economy.

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This week showed the power of the Internet but also the limits of the current economy. Consumers dug deep to revive children’s program classic “Reading Rainbow” on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, but economists fear that Americans have strained their savings to the limit and warned businesses not to expect more support from any rise in consumer spending.

Reading Rainbow makes nearly $3 million in three days: Users of crowdfunding platform Kickstarter helped give culture a boost once again, as a plan to resurrect children’s TV show “Reading Rainbow” generated nearly $3 million in three days, after soaring through its goal of $1 million in less than one day. Actor LeVar Burton, who hosted the show before it was canceled in 2009, personally launched the campaign to resurrect the program as a free online show about books to encourage literacy and imagination. The campaign finishes on July 2, so if fundraising stays at this pace Burton could have $30 million to reboot the program for a new generation.

Google is 61 percent white: The search engine giant published a blog post Wednesday reflecting its diversity gap and promising to do better at hiring women and minorities for its global staff. Google employs only 30 percent women, and its non-white employees are 2 percent black, 30 percent Asian, 3 percent Hispanic and 5 percent are different races or identified as multiracial. This is unfortunately common in the tech industry. There is a 7 to 3 ratio of men to women in New York tech offices, according the consulting firm HR & A Advisors, and approximately 74.5 percent of computer jobs in the U.S. are staffed by men, according to Census Bureau data and fivethirtyeight.com.

Businesses need investment, exports as consumers tire: Personal income rose by 0.3 percent in April, according to the Commerce Department, but personal spending dropped 0.1 percent. This reflects fears by the Economic Policy Institute that businesses are unlikely to see a boost from a rise in consumer spending. That slowdown of consumer spending during a harsh winter also led the U.S. economy to shrink in the first three months of 2014 for the first time in three years by 1 percent- the first time gross domestic product has shrank since 2011.