KABOOM! and William Penn Foundation Announce Second Play Everywhere Philly Challenge to Support Early Literacy and Access to Playful Learning

Applications now open: $1 million in grants to be awarded for creating unique playful learning installations in everyday locations across Philadelphia.

Philadelphia, PA (May 1, 2023) · 

Today, KABOOM!, the national nonprofit that works to end playspace inequity, joined the William Penn Foundation in kicking off the second Play Everywhere Philly Challenge, an exciting, collaborative, city-wide competition to create playful, interactive spaces for children aged 0-8 that support child development and literacy skills in everyday locations across Philadelphia. The challenge is open to applicants from all sectors, including government entities, neighborhood organizations, community groups, nonprofit organizations, local business groups and faith organizations.

Play Everywhere Philly is powered by playful learning, a research-based approach that integrates learning goals into playful activities in unexpected and everyday spaces – like neighborhood lots, community gardens, pathways, and areas outside businesses. These spaces meet children where they are, giving them access to the many benefits of play: socially, emotionally, cognitively, and physically.

Research shows that children spend 80% of their time outside of school, but many cities lack opportunities for play and informal learning outside of the classroom. This is especially true in neighborhoods that have experienced systemic disinvestment. Play Everywhere Philly grant recipients will help fill this gap by working with designers to infuse play into the built environment, beyond traditional playspaces.

“Playing on a playground is more than just fun – it’s a critical need for kids of all ages, providing countless intellectual, social, emotional, and physical benefits,” said Lysa Ratliff, CEO of KABOOM!. “But statistically, we know that schools in communities of color overwhelmingly lack the same resources and amenities that other communities have – including amazing playspaces. KABOOM! is thrilled to continue partnering with communities in Philadelphia to bring more opportunities for play and learning to everyday spaces across the city so that every kid can get the benefits of play, regardless of their race, zip code, or family’s income.”

In its inaugural year in 2019, Play Everywhere Philly awarded $1 million in grants to 16 community groups to create unique playful learning installations in unexpected, but everyday spaces like sidewalks, public plazas, transit stops, making it easier for children aged 0-8 to play and learn outside of the classroom. The second Play Everywhere Philly will build on the successes of the first competition and leverage key learnings from the evaluation, such as incorporating more robust technical assistance to ensure designs are certified playful learning spaces, enhanced location and design considerations, and further attention to site maintenance and comfort for visitors.

With support from KABOOM! and the William Penn Foundation, grantees will have the opportunity to receive expert technical support from the Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network (PLLAN), to help incorporate playful learning approaches into their project designs, and project management support from Watchdog Project Management. All installations will be completed by November 2024.

“The William Penn Foundation has been funding playful learning projects and initiatives since 2017, supporting government, community, and business entities in creating literacy-rich environments for the city’s youngest learners,” said Jennifer Stavrakos, Interim Director of the Great Learning Program at the William Penn Foundation. “That’s why this Play Everywhere Philly Challenge is so exciting; the grants help to bring community-generated and community-centered ideas and designs to life that boost early literacy and language development.”

Groups from all sectors are welcome to apply, including government entities, neighborhood organizations, community groups, nonprofit organizations, local business groups and faith organizations. To be eligible for the award, the project must be within the city limits of Philadelphia. Interested groups can learn more and apply at

About William Penn Foundation

The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, provide inclusive and equitable public spaces and arts and culture experiences, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. Learn more at

KABOOM! is the national nonprofit committed to ending playspace inequity – the reality that quality places to play are not available to every child, especially in communities of color. Since 1996, KABOOM! has partnered with kids and communities to create or transform 17,000+ playspaces and ensure that nearly 12 million kids have equitable access to the crucial benefits and opportunities that playspaces offer. In 2022, KABOOM! launched the 25 in 5 Initiative to End Playspace Inequity, the $250 million plan to accelerate its mission in 25 high-priority locations over five years. Learn more at and join the conversation at,, and LinkedIn.