KaBOOM! Founder and CEO Darell Hammond Inspires Current and Future Social Entrepreneurs with Lessons from his Journey from Group Home to Social Innovator Link copied!

September 18, 2012

Washington, D.C.

At just four years old, KaBOOM! Founder and CEO Darell Hammond was taken to a group home with his seven siblings outside of Chicago, where they grew up after his father abruptly abandoned the family. It was in this home, Hammond writes, that he learned about kindness, generosity, and community service. 

In 1995, Hammond read an article in The Washington Post about two young children who died after becoming trapped in an abandoned car while playing. At the time, there were no safe places for children to play in their community, less than two miles from the U.S. Capitol. Hammond changed that—he brought the community together to build a playground in their honor and at just 24 years old, started KaBOOM! from his Washington, DC apartment. 

Now available in paperback, Hammond’s inspiring story, KaBOOM!: A Movement to Save Play, (Rodale Books; September 18th ; ISBN: 978-1-60961-924-4; $14.99; Paperback; also available in e-book) is the tale of a man and a movement, both born out of tragedy. This book tells one social entrepreneur’s inspiring journey of going from growing up in a group home to founding the national nonprofit dedicated to saving play for America’s children. He instructs readers on how to take action in their own communities with tangible steps to make a difference.

During the last 16 years Hammond has led efforts to combine corporate dollars with community muscle to build an innovative $27 million a year non-profit, construct more than 2,100 playgrounds across the country and bring play to the lives of more than 5.5 million children. He explains that today’s children have less time to play than any previous generation. Building playgrounds solves two problems: the play deficit and the need for community. “Imagine this empty lot becoming a great place for the community to gather and congregate. It all starts with passionate people coming together for a singular purpose,” describes Hammond. 

In KaBOOM!: A Movement to Save Play, Hammond tells how his quest to save play for America’s children has inspired a network of corporate leaders to fund the planning and construction of play spaces that transform abandoned, often condemned spaces into amazing playgrounds that become community hubs for years to come. Along the way corporate innovators from the likes of eBay, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Kraft Foods, have seen Hammond’s vision and committed millions of dollars to the movement. Even in this tough economy KaBOOM! has gained support from industry leaders in sports and entertainment and across political parties.

In the book he looks back at how he:

  • Persuaded 290 companies to invest millions of dollars and employee volunteerism in programs that have provided playgrounds to communities and children in all 50 states through a model built on public/private partnerships.
  • Built an organization that reaches communities around the globe through the online and open-sourced Do-It-Yourself playground building tool that shares the secrets of the KaBOOM! community playground-build model for free.
  • Learned incredible and valuable lessons along his entrepreneurial journey: the importance of taking risks, tapping into one’s passion to create change, and nurturing talent from all sectors for social good.
  • Created the innovative and sustainable revenue model for this audacious-dreaming national non-profit and leveraged the successful hands on, community-based service model into a vibrant online community taking grass-roots action on behalf of our kids.