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The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation funds “Built to Play”

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation (RCWJRF) is funding a new initiative in Buffalo and Southeast Michigan to establish interactive public play spaces. The foundation is dedicating up to $5 million in each region (for a maximum of $10 million), to establish safe, thoughtful, interactive places for young people to play. Over the course of the next few years, RCWJRF will work alongside Tony Hawk Foundation (THF) and KaBOOM! to develop these play spaces. The Built to Play group will work with local non-profits to establish innovative outdoor play spaces and skateparks in rural and low-income neighborhoods.

“Our vision with Built to Play is to create more opportunities and places of recreation that are owned and embraced by the kids and families they serve,” said Jim Boyle, Vice President of Programs & Communications, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “The Tony Hawk Foundation and KaBOOM! are experts in their respective fields and will do a wonderful job leading these collaborative efforts in our regions. We look forward to the day that more children within these communities can make active play a part of their daily life through these play spaces and skateparks.”

Next, KaBOOM! and Tony Hawk Foundation will set out to identify key local alliances that will allow them move forward with the following three Built to Play funding opportunities:

  • KaBOOM! Play Everywhere Challenge (Up to 20 winners total) – Design competition which encourages installations constructed to integrate play into everyday life and unexpected places (such as on sidewalks, in vacant lots, at bus stops, in open streets and beyond). More details on the application process will be announced in early March. Through RCWJRF funding, KaBOOM! will award grants to the challenge winners in August.
  • KaBOOM! Unique Playground Builds (Two in each region) – Hands-on design and build day events for kids, parents, and community members to give ideas and input for their dream playground. A team of world-class designers will turn the community’s dreams into reality with custom playground designs. The design phase will take place between May – August 2018 and the community-builds will take place from July – October 2018.
  • Tony Hawk Foundation Skateparks (Up to five in first phase, up to 20 total) – Through RCWJRF funding, THF will offer matching/challenge grants to assist in the construction of public, non-profit skateparks, giving youth the opportunity to be active whether they’re riding on skateboards, BMX bikes, scooters or rollerblades. THF will begin outreach and announce the opening of applications later this Spring for the first phase.

“We know that play is essential for the well-being of kids and our communities,” said Roxane Rucker, Vice President, Community Impact at KaBOOM!. “That’s why we are thrilled to be working with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation as part of the Built to Play initiative to help create play spaces in Southeast Michigan and Western New York. Through our work together, we are helping kids get the playful childhood experiences they deserve and need to grow up healthy, resilient and ready for life.”

“The Built to Play Skatepark Program will support communities with both expertise and an unprecedented matching grant opportunity,” said Miki Vuckovich, Executive Director, Tony Hawk Foundation. “Our goal is to bring the many benefits of skateparks and the active lifestyle they encourage to communities throughout both regions so kids can thrive. And this program is designed to do just that.”

Together, Tony Hawk Foundation’s dedicated project manager for the Built to Play initiative, and KaBOOM! staff, will work with local applicants to flesh out the projects, while helping grantees to see their projects to completion (design, installation and promotion of their projects).

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is dedicated to providing safe places for young people to play, who don’t have other outlets such as organized sports.

To learn more about the foundation’s grantmaking in Youth Sports and Recreation, and how that will translate to 40+ new skate parks and play spaces, check out the website The site also points to the application process and eligibility for each opportunity.


Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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