Terri-Nichelle Bradley has brought on big name partners throughout the years while building Brown Toy Box, an educational toy company dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). Hypepotamus covered Brown Toy Box in 2018 when it landed a partnership with NASA. Earlier this year, the company partnered with The Home Depot Backyard to bring new family-friendly STEM programming to the Westside of Atlanta.
Now, the startup has landed a partnership with Microsoft to move into the digital gaming space.
Microsoft Nonprofit Tech Acceleration is joining forces with Brown Toy Box to incorporate technology to its line of hands-on, play-based, inclusive learning toys. Using the motto “Tactile Plus Technology Equals Transformation,” the partnership will help bring Brown Toy Box’s educational STEAM kits — and its fun characters in the Dadisi Academy Crew universe – to life in the digital sphere. The games will be created through Microsoft’s MakeCode, a free online learn-to-code platform.
“MakeCode is unique because it is extremely accessible, and children can play on any device. Also, just like our toys, books and games, MakeCode is designed to be equal parts learning and equal parts fun, it is a perfect partnership,” Bradley told Hypepotamus. “We are excited because it will also provide nonprofits with a curriculum supplement they can use along with the games. One of the most important priorities for Brown Toy Box is making sure Black children can see themselves positively represented anyplace they experience regularly, whether it’s the toy aisle, the classroom, the television or in gaming.”
Bradley said the games will come online in Q1 2024.
Building STEAM Products
Brown Toy Box and Microsoft connected through its nonprofit wing, the Brown Toy Box Foundation, which works on ensuring “young scholars in low-wealth communities have access to [products] and experiences just as children from more affluent homes would.” The two organizations have worked together previously through community activations around the Superbowl and the NBA All Star Weekend this year.
Bradley said the organization is passionate about building STEAM engagement opportunities to Pre-kindergarteners through fifth graders. Darrell Booker, Corporate Affairs Specialist with Microsoft, said in a press release that “our collaboration with Brown Toy Box underscores our commitment to diversity, equity, and innovation. By translating their tactile STEAM kits into interactive digital games, we’re creating an inclusive space for young minds to explore the realms of technology and AI while equipping the Black-led nonprofits that we serve to add an important engagement tool to their offering.”
The Microsoft partnership is crucial as Brown Toy Box evolves beyond its original subscription box toy business and into developing its own IP, said Bradley.
“We are now sold in major retailers, Amazon and cultural attractions such as zoos, aquariums and science centers across the country. We are excited that we have some exciting global license deals that we will be announcing soon that will truly be game changers for our business,” she added. “This is our first time creating learning games with any of our toys and educational toys. What I can tell you is that this is just the beginning.”