Meet the 2023 winners
Play Everywhere Philly is a city-wide collaborative challenge to create playful learning spaces that support child development and literacy skills in everyday locations across Philadelphia.
The program awarded $1 million in Play Everywhere grants to groups across Philadelphia to create playful learning along sidewalks and footpaths, in waiting rooms, parks, and gardens. With support from KABOOM!, the William Penn Foundation, Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network (PLLAN), and Watchdog Project Management, grantees will develop places for kids aged 0-8 to play, strengthen caregiver and youth engagement, and promote early childhood literacy and learning.
The 2023 selection process utilized the Playspace Inequity Prioritization Index (PIPI). PIPI combines 21 publicly available data points into a score for every census tract in the United States. Any census tract with a z-score over 0 is likely experiencing playspace inequity. If a census tract has a Z score of 3.0 or higher, that means it is one of 696 census tracts in the United States with the greatest estimated amount of playspace inequity (The top 0.01% of census tracts in the US). These estimates were one factor in determining the 2023 winners, along with other factors such as community engagement plans, project vision, and inclusion or playful learning concepts.
Our 10 Play Everywhere Philly winners received technical assistance during the application phase from our partner organizations: Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network, who helped applicants incorporate playful learning elements into their project designs, and Watchdog, who provided applicants with technical design assistance and project management support. Applicants will continue to receive technical assistance during the implementation phase as they bring their Play Everywhere projects to fruition.
This project will support restoring the John Coltrane House as a historic landmark, expanding its footprint to incorporate an adjacent vacant lot to preserve the street's architectural character and provide a much-needed cultural hub for the community. The new installation at the Yard on John Coltrane Street will include an outdoor installation with seating, a stage, puzzles, musical pathways, and interactive audio-visual games for children and caregivers.
Families spend a significant amount of time in waiting areas. Reach Out and Read aims to create playful and engaging spaces within medical offices to encourage interactive and joyful learning experiences for both parents and children, capitalizing on time spent waiting. At two medical offices in Philadelphia, the installations will focus on social connection, language development, and numeracy skills.
This project will create the Fernhill Children’s Village—a series of tiny structures designed to invite children to play, learn, and thrive in the park. The village will feature themed structures, such as a Farm Stand, Theater, Bus Stop, and School, each offering educational experiences that promote literacy, imagination, spatial skills, and connection to nature.
This multi-intervention project will focus on creating a vibrant playspace in the Logan neighborhood, addressing the lack of outdoor areas for residents to gather, play, and interact. The project proposes transforming the area outside of the Logan Library into a "Logan Nook of Discovery" through murals and interactive play paths focused on the history and culture of the neighborhood.
This project aims to repurpose unused elevated railway tracks into a vibrant green space that connects multiple neighborhoods with playful infrastructure along the way. The flexible, loose-parts-based playspace will cater to children aged 0-8, incorporating elements of playful learning and literacy.
This project will replace pre-existing, uninviting, and unsafe play equipment and completely redesign the playground as a nature-based playful learning space. The new playspace will encourage visitors to engage with the landscape in new and interesting ways, through physical play, interactive puzzles, and natural elements.
In the form of a converted airstream trailer, this mobile playspace will transform ordinary spaces, like parks, libraries, pop-up events, summer camps, and more into an all-in-one library, playground, relaxation station, and space-themed imagination launch pad. Furthering their mission, Read to Succeed will use this mobile playspace to bring their reading program to children and families across Philadelphia.
Aimed at engaging children and their caretakers in playful learning experiences when they stop by for a wellness visit, dentist appointment, or if they’re just walking by, this project will include interactive installations at various locations on the medical campus at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, including at the main entrance, Nelson Pavilion, and along where the mobile dental clinic parks.
This project will install interactive playspaces at various entrances to the Cobbs Creek Trail. These playspaces will invite more children and families into the greenspace while educating them about the natural environment through physical installations and interactive murals.
This renovated church space will transform into a thriving community center with play opportunities for children and caregivers connected to civil rights, entrepreneurism, and oral histories. The Sullivan Community Impact Center is expected to house a café and bookstore, kiosks for entrepreneurs, career services, youth programming, food distribution, and health services.
parks, trails and public spaces
Belmont Alliance Civic Association (BACA)
BACA will be converting an empty neighborhood lot into a play and learning hub that includes a puzzle wall, walking trails, fitness areas, and open areas for groups to gather. The playspace will build math and spatial skills, as well as teach kids about colors, numbers and the alphabet.
Streets and Sidewalks
Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC)
The PCDC is transforming the 10th Street Plaza into a PlayZa with an illustrated map of Chinatown, games and interactive learning murals — complete with English, Mandarin and Cantonese translations.
The Clay Studio
“Clay, Play, Read” is the installation of two, ceramic murals at the Cecil B. Moore and Kensington libraries. Designed by the community, these murals will explore art and literacy on custom tiles that will prompt families to create words, name animals and create stories.
Habitat for Humanity & Brewerytown Sharswood Neighborhood Coalition
Demonstrating the community’s rich history and artists, “Discovering Sharwswood” is an interactive treasure hunt spread across nearly a dozen kiosks in the neighborhood. The interactive kiosks will feature puzzles and games that teach topics such as art history, eating healthy produce and civil rights.
Nationalities Service Center of Philadelphia (NSC)
Book Nook, Computer Lab Lane, Alphabet Alley, Counting Court Marketplace, and Town Clock will be the newest stations at this new “town center” within the NSC. The multi-lingual stations will promote multi-culturalism and cultural literacy learning, as well as, serve as a weekend Farmer’s Market!
Frankford Community Development Corporation
A new addition to the Frankford Pause Park, this playspace will educate kids about storm water management and the water cycle while they run, jump and play. Kids will simulate evaporation, condensation and precipitation as they play, expanding their understanding about environmental science.
Parks, Trails, and Public Spaces
Friends of Eastern State Penitentiary Park (FESPP)
A play wall, rain garden, outdoor classroom and more will be installed alongside a “learning shed” at the FESPP managed park. Kids will play and also learn about science, sustainability and animal life thanks to neighborhood partnerships and nearby schools.
Rhythm Babies, LLC
Happy Feet will enhance musical skills through singing and creative movement activities through the use of boxes made of bells and steel. These boxes will be located outside of laundromats and other high-traffic areas for kids and families across Philadelphia.
Puentes De Salud
This project includes a renovation of the Puentes Community Health and Wellness Center that will be covered in interactive murals celebrating the community members heritage. The murals aim to prompt meaningful conversations and the discovery of indigenousness languages.
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
A kid-sized traffic park where families can practice the rules of the road and safe street habits. The Lil’ Philly Safety Village will have traffic lights, intersections, pedestrian crossings and bike lanes.
Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA)
This playwalk wrapped around Lucien E. Blackwell Homes community will encourage walking, skipping, and running using creative objects encouraging creative play between the homes and community center.
Center for Aquatic Sciences
This playspace consists of 32 curated science kits that aim to inspire kids and their families to explore the natural aspects of their neighborhood. With indoor and outdoor activities, the kits will help increase literacy behaviors through vocabulary and science-rich conversations.
Parks, Trails and Public Spaces
Philadelphia City Planning Commission
This project will transform an uninviting, triangular lot into a park where people can learn and play together, while reflecting on the neighborhood’s past, present, and future in the three, giant canvases. Additional programming for the space will be provided by Nicetown-Tioga Library Branch.
Friends Rehabilitation Program
This project will enhance community green spaces with play elements that teach kids about environmental resiliency and food systems in their own neighborhood, including a farm stand, locally-made sculptures, seating, and sidewalk paint illustrating the role of green storm water infrastructure in the watershed.
Moveable and Pop-Up Play
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (PPR)
PPR’s “Play Mobile” is a pop-up play kit for use at the city’s parks and recreation centers. Filled with books, musical instruments, loose-parts play, jump ropes and balls of all kinds, these kits will create play opportunities in the neighborhoods that need them most, and create playspaces during the Winter months.
Riverfront North Partnership
Kids will move station-to-station alongside the Delaware River playing together and learning from topics in literacy, spatial math, critical thinking and problem solving. The unique stations may include puzzles, plexiglass mazes, or painted “story stones”.
Play Everywhere Philly is funded by the 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, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. Learn more about the William Penn Foundation
Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network (PLLAN) fosters the creation of playful learning infrastructure and activities in everyday spaces where children and families gather. PLLAN works with communities, designers, and researchers to transform spaces like corner lots, laundromats, and bus stops into hubs of playful learning. Providing equitable access to high-quality learning opportunities in everyday places and spaces enhances children’s cognitive and social development and prepares them for success in the 21st-century.
Watchdog’s vision and strategic direction is to empower excellence in our people through an unparalleled workplace culture that enables them to passionately serve and fiercely protect our clients. Through innovative thought leadership, unwavering commitment to our core values, and the highest standards of professionalism, we strive toward strategic organizational growth and continuous improvement. Above all else, we view success as leaving a distinctly positive imprint on the lives of our people, our clients, and in the communities we so proudly serve. We strive to align every project with our core values of community, authenticity, integrity, empowerment, entrepreneurship, and passion.
Through the provision of comprehensive services from predevelopment through ribbon cuttings, Watchdog is committed to using our skills to positively impact communities and the lives of their residents. By working alongside community-focused organizations, we aim to help increase the volume and quality of social impact development, therefore making our neighborhoods stronger and more prosperous.