Donation sparks $250 million fundraising plan to level up play opportunities across USA

Image: copyright Maria Durana (via

KABOOM!, the USA-based play equality champion, has launched its ’25 in 5′ initiative, a $250 million dollar fundraising plan towards achieving play space equality across the country.

A generous donation of $14m by the philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has enabled the non-profit organisation, which works primarily to help children from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, to formally kick off its campaign, with work to start in various locations as soon as possible.

As the world enters the third calendar year of this devastating pandemic, the charity says that the harsh realities of how childhood is endangered has ‘never been more apparent’, with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis continuing to threaten lives, livelihoods, schools and public spaces. It has also changed perceptions for youngsters of ‘what it means to be a kid’.

‘What it means to be a kid’

“In the past three years, many young children have never experienced, and older kids may not remember what it’s like to freely participate in extracurricular activities or simply play on a playground with their peers without limitations, caution, or fear,” says KABOOM!

“The impact of the pandemic has weakened the physical, social, and emotional health of all children who are growing up under the weight of the pandemic. But this is especially true in black and brown communities that are already bearing the brunt of disinvestment and lack of resources due to the underlying effects of systemic racism.

The 25 in 5 scheme aims to address the urgency of the situation by, in the charity’s words, creating a ‘roadmap to end playspace inequity’, and accelerating progress within 25 priority locations over the next five years. It wants every child to have access to the same opportunities to thrive that play places provide.

“Addressing the needs of kids is urgent, and creating safe spaces for them to heal and recover is critical to their well-being. KABOOM! is bringing people and resources together to invest in children, prioritising efforts to eliminate the inequities that prevent healthy childhoods for the kids who are often denied opportunities to thrive,” it adds.

Bringing people and resources together

The aim is to raise a total of $250 million by bringing together diverse partners to drive resources, and so this gift from MacKenzie Scott is the first significant funding to accelerate progress towards the goals of the Initiative.

Lisa Ratliff, CEO of KABOOM!, said: “Our children are facing unprecedented challenges, making our mission that much more urgent, requiring the sustained commitment and support for kids and communities that are often denied opportunities. We are making great progress, but we can’t do it alone – we need the partnership of funders, communities, nonprofits, municipal agencies, and other organisations that support kids. Playspace equity is achievable in our lifetime, and together, we can work to end playspace inequity for good.”

Author: Simon Weedy

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