For Michael Lowe and Neil Gruninger, “Be the change you want to see in the world” is significantly more than a phrase found on coffee mugs or the lips of yoga instructors – it’s a business model.
As founders of A Parent Media Co. Inc. (APMC), they’ve been at the forefront of creating Safe Streaming™ for children in the digital space, first with Kidoodle.TV® and then with their in-house ad-monitoring service, Safe Exchange™. However, while the duo continued innovating solutions to keep children safe in a digital realm, they realized their efforts would prove meaningless if kids felt unsafe in the physical world. What’s more, they are moving to bring philanthropy to the forefront of their brand.
“Mike and I have aspirations to take the Safe Streaming mission off-screen by working with charities and social impact platforms to ensure families have the basic needs to live, learn and have fun,” says Gruninger, APMC’s co-founder, president and chief product officer.
As a Safe Streaming service, Kidoodle.TV is considered a protected environment designed to allow children the freedom of exploring a digital platform without encountering inappropriate content, including problematic ads. It also allows caretakers the option to control content, time access and limit ad exposure through the choices they are given – which could be under an account-based subscription model, an account-based ad-supported model or without an account at all.
The evolution of Kidoodle.TV from a subscription-based OTT service to a free, ad-supported model allows consumers to utilize the technology, regardless of financial means. “Families need ease of access without sacrificing safety. We provide quick and easy access across a diversity of platforms and over free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels that do not require an account, while ensuring that content and ads are moderated and child-friendly,” notes Lowe, APMC’s chief executive officer. “This shift was a positive aspect that evolved as we grew, making us take the time to notice more about our consumers and question what other positive impacts we could create.”
Now APMC is embracing the power of entertainment to inspire a legacy of change. Its efforts have focused on four areas — sustainability, education, amplification and community — with an understanding that generating philanthropic change starts with utilizing the resources at one’s fingertips. For APMC, examples include Kidoodle.TV’s ad inventory, prompting Lowe and Gruninger’s decision to donate 5% of their ad space to charities engaged in fields that are meaningful to their young audience, like Make-A-Wish Foundation. Gruninger says, “We estimate that we will have served over 60 million ad impressions in support of various groups by the end of 2022.”
He adds, “As we continue to grow, we are sourcing local charities, communities and social impact platforms to help us support families in need. Most recently, we have chosen to work alongside two national foundations, both focused on supporting families in crisis. Mamas for Mamas saw the team’s recent commitment to feeding 15 families for the upcoming year. We also worked with the nonprofit Baby2Baby this holiday season, making a direct impact on children living in poverty across the country and helping the organization continue to provide vulnerable families with winter essentials.”
Kidoodle.TV’s success has also allowed APMC to extend its charitable giving by investing in causes that help families in need. To date, the company has sponsored local events, worked with fundraisers for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada and worked with content providers to supply toys and gifts to families of children receiving medical treatment. Partnering with organizations that can properly identify the needs of the community is important for Lowe and Gruninger.
“We have been extremely fortunate over the past few years as families from around the world have chosen to include Kidoodle.TV in their lives,” Lowe states. “This growth has enabled us to give back to our communities in ways that are meaningful to our team.”
APMC recently engaged with social media movement #ClearTheList, which raises awareness about classroom supply shortages, helping teachers access important items on their wish lists. The team subsequently filled every teacher’s wish list at an underfunded elementary school in Mesquite, Texas.
“Ultimately, while exploring what it means to be ‘safe,’ we found that children cannot safely stream online without first being in a safe physical environment – a Maslow’s-hierarchy-of-needs kind of idea,” adds Lowe. “This inspired us to begin putting resources toward supporting safe physical environments.”
The duo has an acute understanding that healthy families breed healthy communities and, in their quest to create true generational change, have utilized that understanding on numerous occasions. Recently, APMC paired with Stephen’s Backpacks Society to establish a safe environment for a family of four fleeing domestic violence. The company sponsored outfitting a home with items the family needed to get started. The goal was to ensure they weren’t only equipped to survive but to thrive. In addition to essential items, like beds and appliances, APMC also provided an outdoor barbecue, technology and food.
“We went there personally to help build out and decorate the home purchased for this family in need,” says Gruninger. “We donated furniture, toys and, most importantly, made sure they could fill their fridge full of food for a year with grocery gift cards. Our team was personally involved in creating a strong positive experience on a personal level.”
While spreading social good for families and children is a top priority for the company, APMC has found extending this philanthropic approach to employees reaps its own dividends. “During the pandemic, we gave our employees an extra full week of paid time off to recharge and regroup, during what we called a ‘One for Me!’ wellness week,” explains Gruninger. “Sometimes it is the unexpected happy surprises that help keep us going.”
Wider scale charitable initiatives are already in the works for 2023. APMC believes it is uniquely equipped to deliver positive change and invites other content creators and brand owners to join its mission. “For a myriad of reasons, we think it’s important for everyone to invest in communities and increase the standard of wellbeing for all, whether that’s to improve economic outcomes, decrease crime or accomplish other goals,” says Lowe. “However, with tech, we have the ability to achieve broader reach to communities around the world and an opportunity to touch them in different ways. Ultimately, technology can be a tremendous mechanism to connect and deliver good to the world.”