Our Dream Playground
Our new step-by-step project planner offers the money and know-how to make your playground dreams come true.
Tools and Resources
Get funding, learn the nuts and bolts of building a great place to play, and improve your local playground.
Build it with KaBOOM!
Build a great place to play for your community with the help of your neighbors, friends, KaBOOM! and our Funding Partners.
Save Play in Your Community
Get tips, ideas, and inspiration for making your community more playful.
Playful City USA
Our Playful City USA program recognizes cities and towns that embrace play as a priority.
Our collection of books will inspire you to bring more play to your family, neighborhood, and community at large.
What We Do
KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit dedicated to saving play for America’s children.
Who We Are
We are peppy, purple-adorned people who passionately promote the power of play!
Partner With Us
Our partners help us to create new playgrounds and to spread the word about the importance of PLAY.
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
A call to action
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.
A formative childhood
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.
Planting the seeds
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.
It starts with a playground
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.
Highlights in KaBOOM! history
1995: First KaBOOM! build takes place at Livingston Manor in Washington, DC.
1996: KaBOOM! is officially founded.
1997: Offer is made to “purchase” KaBOOM! by Ted Turner… offer refused.
1999: We build our first universally accessible playground with AAOS.
2001: We become the first nonprofit to have an ice cream flavor: Ben & Jerry’s KaBerry KaBOOM!.
2002: Our online playground project planner, Our Dream Playground, is created to help us scale our impact online.
2003: We celebrate our 500th playground build at the Boys and Girls Club in Brampton, Ontario.
2005: We launch Operation Playground in the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; First Lady Laura Bush attends playground build in Kiln, Miss.
2006: Our Map of Play is created and KaBOOM! reaches $20 million in annual funding.
2007: We establish our Playful City USA program and partner with Rockwell Group to develop Imagination Playground.
2009: First Lady Michelle Obama and California First Lady Maria Shriver join us to build a playground at Bret Harte Elementary School in San Francisco. KaBOOM! is featured on NBC's Parks and Recreation; staff must still answer the question, "Wait, KaBOOM! is real?"
2010: KaBOOM! is named one of the 50 Best Nonprofits to Work For by NonProfit Times in 2010 and 2011.
- 2011: We celebrate our 15th birthday and 2000th playground build at Imagine Southeast Public Charter School in Washington, DC; First Lady Michelle Obama attends.