KaBOOM! Founder Darell Hammond receives 2016 Social Capital Hero Award Link copied!

February 26, 2016

Alexandria, VA

Darell Hammond, founder of KaBOOM!, received the 2016 Social Capital Hero Award on February 24 for his groundbreaking work as a champion of children and the architect of a national movement to bring balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids.

The award, which honors an everyday hero who has made a profound impact on the greater good, is given by Social Capital, a leading authority on strategic philanthropy for top national and global causes and their partners. It was presented at Social Capital 2016, an annual gathering for these industry practitioners.

“Darell’s humility and unassuming nature belies his extraordinary accomplishments—which is exactly what makes him a Social Capital Hero. He was not only the catalyst for the movement—that every kid has the right to play—but he had the leadership to build a sustainable solution” says Social Capital founder, Paula Berezin. “He was ahead of the curve on every level: scaling, building capacity and bringing game-changing partners on board to sustain his model. I know we are all so grateful for his invaluable contributions and can’t wait to see what’s next for him.”

KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit dedicated to giving all kids— particularly those growing up in poverty in America— the childhood they deserve filled with balanced and active play, so they can thrive. Under Hammond’s leadership since he founded it in 1996, KaBOOM! has collaborated with partners to build, open or improve nearly 16,300 playgrounds, engaged more than one million volunteers and served 8.1 million kids.

Hammond was moved to build his first playground after reading the tragic story of two siblings who died after being trapped in an abandoned car while playing because there were no safe places for children to play in the community. In those early years, Hammond turned his vision into reality by developing the public-private partnership model that became the organization’s secret to success.

Hammond said, “I’m humbled and honored to be recognized as a Social Capital Hero, and join the amazing group of honorees who came before, and will certainly come in the future. From day one, KaBOOM! has been a team effort, so I also want to thank all my colleagues who made our work for kids and their communities possible these last 20 years.”

A KaBOOM! playground build is about community—bringing together local corporations, community groups, parents, teachers and kids to design their dream playground. The result is not only a safe place for kids to play, but also a stronger, more connected community. Over the years, KaBOOM! has been the catalyst and driver of a broader national discussion about the importance of play in fostering healthy and productive lives—helping to shift the public’s view of the right to play from luxury to necessity.

That vision and national impact has garnered Hammond a string of prestigious awards and recognition. He has been named an Ashoka Fellow and was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Hammond has also earned recognition for his leadership in social entrepreneurship, including the American Express NGEN Leadership Award, the Satter Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2011, Hammond released a New York Times best-selling memoir, KaBOOM!: A Movement to Save Play and was named one of the Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs by Forbes Magazine.

In addition to these numerous awards, he has been profiled in People, Washingtonian, Fortune, Fast Company and Worth magazines, the Non-Profit Times, the Chronicle on Philanthropy and Crain’s Chicago Business.

The Social Capital Hero Award was presented by Marc Gunther, editor-at-large for Guardian Sustainable Business US and a veteran journalist, writer and speaker on business and sustainability. In his introduction, Gunther remarked on Hammond’s authenticity, enthusiasm and persistence, saying, “What has impressed me about Darell is that he is as dedicated to the mission of KaBOOM! as much as the organization. He has changed the way cities and states think about play.”

Hammond joins a special line-up of Social Capital Hero Award recipients, everyday heroes who have had an extraordinary impact in our society:

  • Social Capital 2015 Hero: Asha Curran, Director of 92nd Street Y’s Center for Social Innovation and Impact and leader of #Giving Tuesday
  • Social Capital 2014 Hero: Ed Sayers, former CEO of ASPCA and a pioneer in animal welfare; currently president of Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council
  • Social Capital 2013 Hero: Jimmy Murray, co-founder of the first Ronald McDonald House, Philadelphia
  • Social Capital 2012 Hero: Doug Montgomery, a champion fundraiser for Feeding America who has built mega-partnerships dedicated to ending hunger