Non-Profit Organization KaBOOM!, Let’s Play and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Offer $2.1 Million in Grants to Cities Through Playful City USA Program Link copied!

January 27, 2011

Washington, D.C.

In an effort to combat the Play Deficit among children, national non-profit KaBOOM! and Dr Pepper Snapple group will award 103 grants totaling $2.1 million during the next three years as part of the Playful City USA program. The Playful City USA grants are part of Let’s Play – a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids active nationwide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 1-in-5 American children live within walking distance of a park of playground, resulting in a Play Deficit among children. This Play Deficit is having disastrous consequences for kids physically as well as mentally and socially. Children desperately need a place to play every day in order to be active and healthy.

KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to saving play, created the Playful City USA program in 2007 to help local governments address the Play Deficit by ensuring their children have the time and space they need to play and to be active and healthy. Playful City USA is a national recognition program honoring cities and towns that make play a priority and use innovative new programs to get children playing outdoors more. 

“Cities receiving Playful City USA recognition have always enjoyed the benefits of identifying and sharing best practices, inclusion in the national discussion about the importance of play and local praise for their dedication to children,” said KaBOOM! CEO and Co-Founder Darell Hammond. “In these difficult economic times, KaBOOM! is thrilled to offer grants to Playful City USA communities to help them create even more play opportunities for their children and help KaBOOM! save play.”

Despite budget deficits, Playful City USA communities continue to dramatically increase play opportunities for children, using innovative best practices. Cities including Orlando, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Tucson, Ariz., have significantly increased the quantity of playspaces by developing joint-use agreements with local school districts to open school recreation facilities to the public during non-school hours. Upon becoming a Playful City USA community, Dothan, Ala., committed to using a community-build process for the construction of all future parks and playgrounds in the city. The community-build process engages citizens and organizations, while relying on volunteers for construction, which significantly lowers the cost of building playgrounds.  St. Petersburg and Tucson were among the 12 communities featured in Play Matters, a KaBOOM! report designed to help cities build awareness and political capital while developing a policy on play. The complete report is available for free at The new Playful City USA grants will go towards supporting two of these best practices communities across the country.

A total of 103 grants worth $2.1 million are available to Playful City USA recognized cities and towns between 2011-13. Grants range in values of $30,000, $20,000 and $15,000 and will be awarded to existing Playful City USA communities as well as communities receiving Playful City USA recognition for the first time. The $30,000 and $15,000 grants are available for projects relating to joint-use agreements and the $20,000 grants will be awarded to cities using the community playground build process. Cities also are eligible to receive multiple grants during the three-year period. Dr Pepper Snapple Group, a member of the leadership circle within the KaBOOM! National Partner Program, is providing the funding for the grants. 

In 2010, 118 communities in 36 different states earned Playful City USA recognition, ranging in size from Atlanta and San Francisco to Shirley, Mass., and Ottawa, Kan. These Playful City USA communities are making a commitment to play and physical activity by developing unique local action plans to increase the quantity and quality of play in their community. In doing so, some of the most innovative ideas and cost-effective programs are being developed in Playful City USA communities – proving that parks and play are more important than ever.

Communities wishing to receive grants and apply for Playful City USA status must meet five core commitments of the program:

    1. Create a local play commission task force
    2. Design an annual action plan for play
    3. Conduct a playspace audit of all publicly accessible play areas
    4. Identify current spending on capital projects and maintenance of playspaces
    5. Proclaim and celebrate an annual “KaBOOM! Play Day”

Cities and towns can apply to become a Playful City USA community by completing the application available at The application deadline is June 1, 2011.