Feathered Tales

Clever Books for Clever Kids

Under Our Wing: Chase Grant Contest


Our program for at-risk youth needs your vote! The Avian Kingdom’s literacy and outreach program, Under Our Wing, is entered into the Chase Mission Main Street Grant contest, where 12 small businesses will be awarded $250,000 to expand their cause financially. From our team, we invite you to read our contest responses on why and how we’re pursuing this grant and why we’re driven by our cause: That everything we do should help thousands of children reach their goals and overcome handicaps.

Vote for us here!

Tell us about your business. What inspired you to start your business? How is your business successful? What makes it unique?

The Avian Kingdom series- and its subsequent characters- were first e-published last February and have their conceptual roots from our iPhone/iPad app, an iOS game from a year earlier. Throughout the game, players navigate their avian friends through twirling wind turbines in order to return safely home. After thousands of downloads and garnering over 18,000 Facebook fans, parents of children that constantly interacted with the app reached out to the creators through social media interactions and word of mouth asking for more content for their children.

We created the iPhone game first, because kids learn in very different ways these days. We figured we could reach more people, more kids if we spoke their technological, generational language then if we tried to go through traditional media. – Gabriel Garcia, series producer.

When the idea of a children’s series was broached when it came to building out valuable content and characters, Gabriel was immediately inspired by his own childhood. He grew up feeling disconnected both as a foreigner and suffering from an acute form of dyslexia.  He tried desperately to hide his handicap and it was not until he graduated from college that he was able to find a way to overcome this life challenge. Missing out in storytelling, books and even movies as a child gives him a great appreciation for what the Avian Kingdom is doing.  He has molded the story content and events so that children of all ages can learn, grow in confidence and feel like there is someone they can trust.  He hopes that through these stories he builds trust among children so that they too have a chance to overcome some of their insecurities and turn handicaps into strengths.

How it’s successful:

  • At risk children have sent us thank you notes, drawings of our characters, and invited us to come back

  • Non-profit organizations have benefited from our programs:

    • Last Chance Forever, Bird of Prey Conservancy

    • Women’s Shelter

    • Boys & Girls Club

  • We are beginning to see revenue from our book sales both digital and in print

  • Thousands of downloads of the game

Unique factor:

By implementing the Under Our Wing Literacy program, we believe in that helping companies and organizations achieve their marketing and outreach goals, we can also help thousands of children reach their full potential.  Our team, content, and cause makes for a uniquely international group that understands the true meaning of success.

In the publishing industry, the majority of literature builds a fan base with the tangible product first, then proceeds to establish their technological presence with either a complimentary game or app. In our case, the base of our success is rooted in an iPhone game, and our books are the product of that initial virality.

  • Our team:

    • International

    • Multi-cultural

    • Driven by the cause

  • Did not set out to simply merchandize, we created content geared towards character building and family values that ultimately help change the lives of children

  • Hand-drawn illustrations and concept creation from award-winning artist Emilio Hernandez

  • Penned by known children’s book author Karen Chacek

  • Written first in Spanish, interpreted into English

  • We incorporated a subtle, educational aspect about the avian characters within the stories

  • Our Under Our Wing Literacy program conducts events that promote bilingual reading and character building.

2) How is your business involved with the community you serve?

We believe that everything we do should help thousands of children reach their goals and overcome handicaps. The Avian Kingdom reaches the community at large -specifically at-risk youth- through the Under Our Wing Literacy program. Our outreach efforts through U.O.W.L. fosters literacy, foundational character building and environmental stewardship through the use of the six-part, bilingual children’s series, Avian Kingdom: Feathered Tales. Through the avian characters’ universal struggles, children immerse themselves in problem-solution situations that face most everyone while growing up (parents’ unconditional love, sibling rivalry, etc). U.O.W.L. delivers these life lessons through the aid of donors, sponsors and volunteers in richly-illustrated form to the community by providing the children books, live readings and mascot interactions to not only promote bilingual literacy and character values, but the conservation of the raptors and their ecosystems as well.

When it comes to the outreach, the Avian Kingdom hosts exclusive, interactive events that target at-risk youth, from C.A.S.A.- a program that advocates for abused and neglected children-to the Boys and Girls Club, and after school programs for low-income children. Each child is handed their own book from the series, and the Captain Eagle and Dr. Hoots mascots are also present, giving plenty of hugs, smiles and high fives. The Kingdom crew also helps the kids participate in coloring activities as well as reading one of the stories to them.

Each time donors collectively reach 500 children within the program, the Avian Kingdom hosts our memorable events at any one of the following locations:

  • C.A.S.A.

  • Boys and Girls Club

  • Texas Children’s Hospital

  • Bilingual programs

  • Government agencies

  • Local women’s shelters

  • After school programs for low income children

  • Dual language programs

Under Our Wing Literacy’s ultimate purpose is to lead by example and create ambassadors out of these at-risk children so that they can champion the character values and environmental lessons within the context of our series. Furthermore, the content of the Avian Kingdom is geared towards fostering curiosity while teaching the kids that there is also a larger picture than themselves at work, which includes the environment and ecosystems that surround them.

On an additional, conservation note, a percentage of proceeds from sales benefit Last Chance Forever, a Texas-based nonprofit that rescues, rehabilitates and releases federally protected birds of prey such as owls and raptors including eagles, hawks and Caracaras across the nation.


A percentage of our book proceeds are donated to L.C.F. to help mitigate the expenses of the birds’ rehabilitation. The nonprofit travels nationwide to host at more than 300 events each year that demonstrate the raptors in action and educate the public on the importance of their conservation.

John Karger, the organization’s executive director, makes frequent, joint appearances with the Avian Kingdom team to educate children and adults alike on the importance of preserving not only the bird species themselves but their ecosystem as well.

3) What would a $250,000 grant mean to your business and how will you utilize the funds to ensure long-term growth and stability?

Reaching at-risk kids means overcoming challenges of resources and access to technology.  The funds would be used to build additional content that can shift our program from consumer supported to ad-supported broadcasting.  With an injection of funding we can expand our program quickly, create media-rich content, and reach more children that will benefit greatly from all the Avian Kingdom has to offer.  The sponsors and ads running on the network will ensure the new platform is sustainable

Our current growth potential requires that we focus our attention on children from families with disposable income. With an injection of funding we can expand our program quickly and reach children that will benefit greatly from all the Avian Kingdom has to offer.

Creative Creation: 35%

  • Additional story writing & illustration

  • 3D animation and Pilot creation

  • Interactive content for e-books

  • Programming and Development

On-demand revamp: 15%

  • Website by implementing Content Management

  • Leased Servers with Content Streaming Capabilities

Publishing: 25%

  • Series book published for U.O.W.L Program

  • Interactive web-based content

    • Agnostic to iOS & Android

    • Accessible through public libraries

Marketing & Advertising: 25%

  • Print and Digital

  • Press Releases

  • Collateral

  • Advertising

  • Trade Shows & Expos

4) What challenges can you identify for your business, and how do you plan to overcome them?

After we sat down as a company to identify our challenges, we have since developed a catch-all Under Our Wing Literacy program that stems directly from the Avian Kingdom and addresses some of our biggest obstacles. First, we identified our challenges as:

  1. Relationships: Introducing our program to more businesses and corporate sponsors that can benefit from a well-rounded population and who parallel with our own mission: To make an impact on the lives of young, at-risk children with our literature and outreach efforts.

  2. Logistics: The Avian Kingdom has provided the base content and message through our six-part children’s series that embodies family values and character building, however we’re currently trying to build our sponsorships, donor relationships and volunteer base to reach more children nation and worldwide (as we grow we will need to have volunteers and team leaders throughout the country). With our limited resources, we have reached a local, Central Texas demographic but aspire to expand our boots-on-the-ground approach as well as our digital marketing outreach to help at-risk children in multiple languages both nationally and internationally.

  3. Technology: Many at-risk children do not have access to iOS devices and internet connections. That is precisely why we also went down the traditional publishing route to ensure access to our content for all.

  4. Bureaucracy:  Many hospitals and intensive care units that we are targeting do not allow for donated books or even visitors to come into the space. Our books are brand-new and sealed from the press to help overcome some of these issues. On another red-tape note, foster kids as well as court-protected children can benefit the most from our program and are the hardest to reach due to security measures. We incur expenses that will help protect these children from unnecessary exposure, such as background checks, and the grant fund would be directed towards mitigating these costs.

Overcoming challenges: To overcome the obstacles that we currently face and to address our challenges in an all-encompassing manner, the Avian Kingdom designed and is implementing the Under Our Wings Literacy program, where sponsors, donors and volunteers all contribute to our ultimate goal of inspiring youth with our value-centric messages.

As stated above, the U.O.W.L. program utilizes our character mascots, marketing team and interactive readings to reach at-risk youth at established environments such as women’s shelters, Boys and Girls Clubs and dual language programs within school districts. We consider ourselves more than just a book series. The Avian Kingdom as an entity strives to build courage and character within these children’s lives through not only our books, but the Under Our Wing Literacy program and our interactive outreach as well.

5) Describe the talent and skill of your employees, and how they contribute to a successful business.

Project lead, Gabriel Garcia, holds a Masters in Business and Administration and B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rice University and has launched several projects over the last 10 years as a business consultant and director of an incubator in Houston Texas.

Illustrator and animator Emilio Hernandez has over 20 years of experience in 3D Animation, VFX, editing, CG, On-line and post production for the advertising and film industry. Emilio leads the team in creative development, graphics and animations for our clients’ challenging visual needs. Emilio holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey.

Karen Chacek is the author of the Avian Kingdom: Feathered Tales series and has written “Birds of a Feather” “Two Hoots and a Holler” and our most-recently released book, “Pelican Sky”. Some of her previous works include “Conspiracy Girl” and “Nina Complot”.

Technology guru Bill Shirley is an iPhone developer with over 20 years of experience in the industry. From projects at NextStep and InLine to software he brings creative architecture, in-depth knowledge of objective programming and project management skills. He is an expert iOS, Objective – C, Xcode, C, Object-Oriented design developer. Bill holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Texas in Austin.

Designer Carlee Holzhalb manages the creative aspects for Wing Whackers, and we welcome her as a soon-to-be U.H. Bachelor of Science graduate in digital media.

Social media and marketing maven Cali Bock adds creative juice to our marketing and art direction of the franchise. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in multimedia journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

Web designer Mark Henry created the website for Avian Kingdom. He is much older than he looks with years of experience in design and implementation as well as graphical development. Mark holds a degree in GUI Design and Web Development from Miami Dade College.

We run lean and mean.  Not only does our team have a wonderful mix of cultures from all over the world, it has amazing talent.  We have Bill “The Hammer” Shirley, Emilio “El Aviador” Hernandez, Gabriel “Mr. Do it” Garcia, Karen “Literally Awesome” Chacek, Carlee “Urban Cowgirl” Holzhalb, and Cali “Shiny” Bock.  Award winning, experienced, cause driven, passionate, and understand the true meaning of success.   Oh yes, clever too, none of them have a giraffe as their FB profile picture.

If you’d like to get behind our mission and help us on our path to funding, we’d love to have your vote.

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