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Borne Digital attacks education issues for digital natives

The small handful of people working at New York City's Borne Digital envision a future where learning can be personalized through technology.
Bourne Digital Founder- Daniel Fountenberry- FEAST
Borne Digital founder Daniel Fountenberry looks on as a student uses one of the books developed by his company on the iPad.

The small handful of people working at New York City's Borne Digital envision a future where learning can be personalized through technology and students can be challenged to their maximum abilities.

Borne Digital (tagline: Books for digital natives) is a children's publishing and educational software company that develops virtual books for tablets that adapt and respond to a 21st-century student's reading ability.

"Kids are hungry to be challenged," Daniel Fountenberry, the company's founder, told MSNBC.

The team creates books--for children in kindergarten through 12th grade--that have multiple layers of content, and develops processes to pinpoint appropriate levels of difficulty. There are different experiences and assessments within the same book that vary depending on a child's learning ability.

Borne Digital pilots software data programs in the city's schools and after-school programs and hopes to expand into Los Angeles.

"We want to use technology in ways that empower teachers and that allow all children to reach their full potential," said Fountenberry, who is originally from East Palo Alto, Calif.

In 2011, 68% of the country's fourth graders scored below proficient on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test.

Fountenberry said the company is "attacking a problem that needs to be attacked" and "actively pushing to the future."

"Reading is fundamental to learning, and learning is fundamental to human development," he added. "Reading is the basis of all learning, and we all know the impact of not being able to read--what it does to a person's self-esteem."

As part of the commitment, the company will initiate a campaign on Oct. 9 to raise a million dollars for the creation of a library of adaptive books that will be available to any person who lives in a high-poverty neighborhood.

Fountenberry left his career in media to combine publishing and data to produce these personalized reading experiences. His team consists of seven other people, who won the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing People's Choice Award earlier this year.

The software currently works on Android devices and iPads. Fountenberry said his plans for the month of October include constructing versions that can be used in the home, as the team simultaneously remains focused on the impact of the product.

"It's not about how big we want to be; it's about the impact we want to have," he said. "We want to enable as many kids as possible to be good readers and to feel proud of themselves; to feel like they can do it."

Borne Digital was chosen as one of five finalists in the Feast contest. Each innovator has received one ticket to the 2013 Feast Conference, which focuses on learning, health, and veterans. The organization with the most votes by Oct. 6 will receive a speaker spot at the three-day conference, which begins on Oct. 16 in New York City, for the chance to call participants to action.

Like what Borne Digital is doing? Show your support and vote here.