The Buffalo-based Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has announced a $10 million initiative to provide children and youth across western New York State and southeastern Michigan with more opportunities for free play through the creation of public play spaces.
Through the Built to Play initiative, the foundation will invest up to $5 million in each region over the next several years to provide grassroots groups and nonprofits with the funding needed to create and maintain play spaces within their communities. To that end, the foundation will partner with the Tony Hawk Foundation, an organization focused on promoting high-quality public skateparks in low-income areas across the U.S., and KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit dedicated to giving all kids great, safe places to play, to develop a variety of uniquely designed spaces across the two regions.
Funding opportunities to be offered through the initiative include the KaBOOM! Play Everywhere Challenge (up to twenty winners total), a competition designed to encourage the construction of installations that integrate play into everyday life; KaBOOM! Unique Playground Builds (two winners in each region), which will provide hands-on design and build-day events for kids, parents, and community members focused on soliciting ideas and input for their dream playground; and Tony Hawk Foundation Skateparks (up to five in phase one), which will provide matching/challenge grants to assist in the construction of public nonprofit skateparks.
"Our vision with Built to Play is to create more opportunities and places of recreation that are owned and embraced by the kids and families they serve," said Wilson Foundation vice president of program and communications Jim Boyle. "The Tony Hawk Foundation and KaBOOM! are experts in their respective fields and will do a wonderful job leading these collaborative efforts in our regions. We look forward to the day that more children within these communities can make active play a part of their daily life through these play spaces and skateparks."