March 24, 2022

Meet Kya Johnson, The Attorney Who Received A Grant From Beyoncé To Create AR Children’s Books

A Greensboro attorney and entrepreneur is bringing racial diversity to children’s entertainment by creating a range of books using AR.

Kya Johnson launched online entertainment platform RainbowMe in December 2014 with co-founders Talib Graves-Manns, who is a marketing entrepreneur, and Bernard Bell, an Atlanta-based television veteran.

Back in 2014- RainbowMe was one of three organizations to receive free workspace and $40,000 in seed funding from CODE2040’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence pilot program.

CODE2040, a San Francisco nonprofit that supports the inclusion of underrepresented minorities in the tech industry, partnered with Google on the initiative that’s backing African-American and Latino entrepreneurs in Durham, Chicago and Austin, Texas.

When she first launched – racially diverse children from African-American, Latino and Asian backgrounds made up nearly half the population of 60 million US children under age 12. Yet fewer than 10 percent of entertainment programs directed at children featured protagonists of color, Johnson said.

During its early days, the children’s platform launched a few original shows and secured licensing for content incorporating main characters of color.

But it was in 2017 when Johnson came across the Pokemon Go game that she developed the idea for an AR children’s book.

The first augmented reality book to launch on RainbowMe Kids was “O is For Oshun,” which celebrates different folklore and fairy tale characters of color from around the globe. With the help of a smartphone, users can bring the characters to life and hear stories with dialects from their region.

The second augmented reality book was introduced following a $10,000 grant from Beyoncé and her BeyGOOD foundation in partnership with the NAACP that was created to strengthen Black-owned businesses, as AfroTech previously reported.

The book — titled “How Kofi Amero Became the Hero of Amero” — is an adaptation of a Ghanaian folklore tale taking readers on Kofi’s transformative journey as the richest man in his village.

Abbianca Makoni

Abbianca Makoni is a content executive and writer at POCIT! She has years of experience reporting on critical issues affecting diverse communities around the globe.