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While the Built to Play grantmaking initiative has concluded, each of these organizations are still working to increase opportunities for play and have individual programs and grant opportunities.

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect the devotion of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his beloved Buffalo Bills NFL team. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson provided that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. Based in Detroit, the Foundation began with a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable, and overseen by those who knew him best.

The Built to Play initiative was part of the Foundation’s Youth Sport & Recreation focus area of investment that is working to get more kids active through sports regardless of zip code or ability.

Much of the Foundation’s work in this area is being coordinated by two regional initiatives – Project Play: Southeast Michigan and Project Play: Western New York.

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Founded by Tony Hawk, The Skatepark Project is a nonprofit organization working to increase access to outdoor recreation and free play through the creation of safe and inclusive community skateparks. TSP provides the resources, advocacy skills, grants and fellowship programs that guide skaters in creating their own community skateparks, from conception through construction. This is a collaborative process between skaters and city authorities to invest in capital improvements that will enrich a community for decades. The Skatepark Project’s grant programs have awarded $13 million to help fund nearly 700 public skateparks in all 50 States, enjoyed by an estimated 9-million people annually. The organization’s International Program has provided technical and financial support to assist youth through the Skateistan educational programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa. To get involved, visit

KABOOM! unites with communities and diverse partners to build playspaces in places where we know from data that access has been historically denied. Together, we work to ensure every playspace reflects the unique needs, desires, cultures, and strengths of the community. Since our founding over 25 years ago, we’ve built or transformed 17,000+ playspaces, engaged more than 1.5 million community members and brought joy to nearly 12 million kids. Our work will continue until every child has high-quality places to play, grow, and thrive. 

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Gehl is a networked urban design and research consultancy, offering expertise in the fields of architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, and city planning. We address global trends using empirical analysis to design for social behavior that drives meaningful change.

In 2022, Gehl was asked to assess the impact of the Built to Play projects to better understand their role in children’s daily lives, community development, and broader public space design.
Visit to learn more about the project and meet the team behind the Built to Play assessment.