Read our full story in our CEO and Founder Darell Hammond's New York Times bestselling book, KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play.
“It takes equal parts audacity, creativity and vision to build an organization as successful as KaBOOM! – and Darell Hammond has that special blend."
- Maria Shriver, Award Winning Journalist, Best-Selling Author and Activist
“Darell Hammond’s journey is as inspirational as it is illuminating. His passion for play and his organizational success makes for a book that is invaluable to anyone devoted to youth development or community development.”
- Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO, Harlem Children’s Zone
In August 1995, shortly after moving to Washington, D.C., 24-year-old Darell Hammond read a story in the Washington Post about two local children who suffocated while playing in an abandoned car because they didn’t have anywhere else to play. Darell realized this tragedy could have been prevented. The passion was born, the idea was conceived.
Darell grew up with seven brothers and sisters at the Mooseheart Child City & School, a group home outside of Chicago. The Mooseheart community instilled in Darell the power of volunteerism and the importance of helping those less fortunate get a head start.
After attending community college and Ripon College, he helped lead the start-up of City Year Chicago. Under Darell’s leadership, 600 City Year volunteers built two playgrounds and more than 500 community volunteers joined the incredible day of service. Watching the volunteers take on their challenges in a fun and productive way, Darell realized that with organization, leadership, and minimal training, communities could make huge improvements to their neighborhoods and their lives.
Although not yet under the KaBOOM! name, the first KaBOOM! community playground build took place in October 1995, at Livingston Manor in southeast Washington, DC. KaBOOM! was officially founded in 1996 in the back of a deli in DC’s Adams Morgan neighborhood. Since then, KaBOOM! has raised more than $200 million, rallied a million volunteers, led the hands-on construction of over 2,000 playgrounds, and inspired a movement for the child’s right to play.