KABOOM! and William Penn Foundation Announce 10 Winners of Second Play Everywhere Philly Challenge to Support Early Literacy and Access to Playful Learning Link copied!

November 6, 2023

Philadelphia, PA


Today, KABOOM!, the national nonprofit that works to end play space inequity for good, and the William Penn Foundation announced the winners of 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 winning teams will create public installations to infuse 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.

The Play Everywhere Philly Challenge awards a total of $1 million for projects across Philadelphia – particularly in neighborhoods that have experienced systemic disinvestment. All installations are slated for completion by November 2024. A gallery with all winning projects is available at https://kaboom.org/grants/play-everywhere-philly

Examples of playful projects coming to Philadelphia include:

  • An immersive civil and human rights playful learning installation from Called to Serve CDC, honoring the legacy of Rev. Dr. Leon H. Sullivan, also known as “Lion of Zion”, in the heart of the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood.
  • Fernhill Children’s Village, a series of tiny imaginative play structures designed by Friends of Fernhill to invite children to mimic daily life with a pretend school, bus stop and farm stand, located within the vibrant neighborhood of Southwest Germantown.
  • The Indochinese American Council’s Logan Nook of Discovery will utilize murals and play paths to transform the area outside of the Logan Library to connect children and caregivers to their neighborhood’s history and culture through storytelling and intergenerational engagement.

“Philadelphia is a vibrant city where every neighborhood presents an opportunity for introducing creative play and learning into everyday spaces,” said Lysa Ratliff, CEO of KABOOM!. “At KABOOM!, we envision a world where kids are able to joyfully play in their neighborhoods, at schools, and everywhere in between and Play Everywhere is all about meeting kids and families where they are. We look forward to seeing the positive impact these installations will have on the lives of happy and healthy kids throughout Philadelphia.”

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. PLLAN uses a research-based approach that embeds learning goals into play for children and families to spark interactions that support learning and skill development. Projects designed to inspire playful learning have produced significant increases in adult-child conversations using color, spatial, numeric, and letter language — the very ingredients that support children’s literacy and STEM skills and prepare children for the future.

“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. “Over the next year, we’re excited to see these Play Everywhere Philly projects come to life infused with community-generated and community-centered ideas and designs that boost early literacy and language development.”

Learn more about the Play Everywhere Philly Challenge and view a gallery of winners across Philadelphia.