The CarMax Foundation and KaBOOM! Announce Future Innovators Program

Partners develop new program to research and provide STEM play experiences to cultivate 21st century skills

Washington, D.C. (November 8, 2019) · 

The CarMax Foundation and KaBOOM! are partnering to launch the Future Innovators Program, addressing the need for early development of 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity. Leveraging Rigamajig®, the partners are encouraging STEM interest and 21st century skills development through child directed creative play.

Rigamajig® is an innovative play and learning solution created by Cas Holman, founder and principal designer at an independent toy company. Rigamajig® stimulates inquisitive minds through creative thinking and problem-solving skills that are developed during experiential play and hands-on active learning. The collection of wooden planks, wheels, pulleys, nuts, bolts and rope allows children to follow their curiosity through play.

By 2021, 23 STEM-focused, youth-serving organizations in communities across the country will be awarded a Rigamajig® set by The CarMax Foundation and KaBOOM!. These organizations will host an “Innovators Challenge” where CarMax associates will coach teams of kids to tackle a challenge using the Rigamajig®.

As a part of this program, KaBOOM! and The CarMax Foundation partnered with experts in childhood education and psychology at Purdue University Human Development and Family Studies Department to create 10 project-based lesson plans. The project-based lesson plans are designed to provide educators with a creative framework to support small group play experiences with Rigamajig® and also provide enriching extension activities for the classroom. Each lesson features ideas, prompts, videos and challenges to provoke kids to flex their creative problem-solving skills using Rigamajig®. The lesson plans are available and free for the public to access.

In early 2020, the Future Innovators Program will also release a research study conducted in collaboration with Dr. Zachary S. Gold of Concordia University and Dr. James Ellicker at the Purdue University Human Development and Family Studies Department. The study will provide new data describing engineering-related, physical and social play behaviors kids display in a semi-structured play context using Rigamajig®.

“Our associates across the country will help kids cultivate important STEM skills that will be essential in their future careers,” said Matt Aman, president of The CarMax Foundation. “Expanding our partnership with KaBOOM! with a specific focus on developing 21st century skills and exploring research that studies the intersection of STEM and play is paramount to the future of youth education programs.”

During the 23 challenge events to be held across the country, CarMax associates will serve as coaches and will leverage Future Innovators lesson plans to inspire kids to build unique designs and work together to flex their creative problem-solving skills through the use of a Rigamajig®. The first Innovators Challenge events are debuting today, National STEM Day, at the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines, IA, and the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, VA.

“The CarMax Foundation continues to be a leader in creating innovative play opportunities to support healthy development for kids across the country,” said Lysa Ratliff, Vice President of Partnership Development at KaBOOM!. “Expanding our partnership through the Future Innovators Program will encourage interest in future STEM careers and support all kids getting more opportunities to play.”

In addition to this initiative, The CarMax Foundation has created an Innovation Fund with KaBOOM!, investing more than three years in the development of other ground-breaking solutions that enable kids to play more actively and more often, including through the development of tech-enabled playgrounds. The CarMax Foundation and KaBOOM! are invested in creating opportunities for kids to develop 21st century skills through active play, reaching more than 170,000 kids by the end of 2021.

The CarMax Foundation: Lindsey Duke | 804-317-8852 |
KaBOOM!: Sharise Johnson | 404-751-6723 |

About The CarMax Foundation
The CarMax Foundation enriches the communities where our associates live and work. Together with CarMax, Inc., the Foundation has donated more than $60 million since 2003. Funding programs are made available through a portion of CarMax, Inc.’s pre-tax profits. CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, revolutionized the automotive retail industry by driving integrity, honesty and transparency in every interaction. CarMax continues to innovate and is currently rolling out an omni-channel experience, providing customers the option to complete transactions entirely from home, in store, or in a seamless combination of both. CarMax has more than 200 stores nationwide, and during the latest fiscal year sold nearly 750,000 used cars and 450,000 wholesale vehicles at its in-store auctions. With more than 25,000 associates, CarMax is proud to have been recognized for 15 consecutive years as one of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®. For more information, visit

About KaBOOM!
KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to giving all kids – especially those living in poverty – the childhood they deserve through great, safe places to play. KaBOOM! inspires communities to make play the easy choice and works to drive the national discussion about the importance of PLAYces. KaBOOM! has collaborated with partners to build or improve more than 17,000 playspaces, engage over 1.5 million volunteers and serve nearly 10 million kids. To learn why play matters for all kids, visit and join the conversation at,, and #playmatters #PLAYceforKids