Our Communities

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Project Play began as a national initiative. Today, it's also very much a deep dive into youth sports at local levels. Project Play has model communities (Baltimore, Harlem) and regional initiatives (Southeast Michigan, Western New York, Greater Rochester, South Alabama) that are directly helping communities build healthier outcomes for kids.


project play: baltimore

Our first model initiative, Project Play: Baltimore is identifying and facilitating opportunities for leaders to grow the quality and quantity of youth sport opportunities. Our specific focus is on a two-square-mile area of East Baltimore, where Under Armour helped renovate a recreation center in 2016 and asked us to assist stakeholders throughout the area.

Since the release of the State of Play: Baltimore report, the initiative has made significant progress in the following ways:

  • The National Fitness Foundation partnered with Baltimore City Public Schools to support physical education programs with training and up to $50,000 in grants
  • USA Field Hockey teamed up with the Living Classrooms Foundation and other local leaders to introduce field hockey
  • USA Swimming Foundation and Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (BCRP) collaborated to teach youth necessary swimming skills and water-safety tips. Additionally, BCRP is now a Make a Splash Local Partner of the USA Swimming Foundation, making them eligible for gran ts up to $15,000 to support their swimming needs.

Do you want to help activate? Contact: Andre Fountain

andre.fountain@aspeninstitute.org 


Project Play: Harlem

Project Play: Harlem is a multiyear initiative focused on five-square-mile area of New York City. With the support of Harris Family Charitable Foundation, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and Mount Sinai Health System, the Aspen Institute is assessing the state of play in the largely Latino community and helping to mobilize civic, youth and sport groups.

Since the release of the State of Play: Harlem report, the initiative has made significant progress in the following ways: 

  • Received support from Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) for Project Play: Harlem’s effort to build healthy communities through sport
  • Hosted four sector roundtables to facilitate activation from community, city and national stakeholders

Do you want to help activate? Contact: Ranya Bautista

ranya.bautista@aspeninstitute.org


Project Play: Southeast Michigan

Project Play: Southeast Michigan works across seven counties, seeking both community-wide and stakeholder-specific input to collaboratively build local solutions that address a goal of “building communities in which all children have the opportunity to be active in sports.” The initiative is a collaborative project between the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and the Aspen Institute.

Since the release of the State of Play: Southeast Michigan report, the initiative has made significant progress in the following ways:  

  • The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation partnered with KaBOOM! and the Tony Hawk Foundation to launch Built to Play, a $5 million initiative in Southeast Michigan to build new playgrounds, skateparks, and creative play spaces
  • The Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League formed work groups with Detroit stakeholders to pilot new, authentic, exciting ways to get kids back in the game

Do you want to help activate? Contact: Martin Fox

martin.fox@aspeninstitute.org


Project Play: Western New York

Project Play: Western New York is a nonprofit initiative launched by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation through the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and with the support of Aspen to ensure kids in the eight-county WNY region have the opportunity to be active through sports & build physical literacy. 

Since the release of the State of Play: Western New York report, the initiative has made significant progress in the following ways:

  • The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation partnered with KaBOOM! and the Tony Hawk Foundation to launch Built to Play, a $5 million initiative in Western New York to build new playgrounds, skateparks, and creative play spaces 
  • A new nonprofit, Victory Sports, launched a sports equipment sharing and recycling program to support programs across the region, including the Rural Outreach Center, West Side International Soccer, and the Buffalo Police Department Neighborhood Engagement Team
  • The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation made major gifts in support of Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association, 716 Squash, and Soccer for Success to expand their offerings and improve access

Do you want to help activate? Contact: Martin Fox

martin.fox@aspeninstitute.org


Greater Rochester & the Finger Lakes

Aspen supports the Rochester Area Community Foundation as they activate State of Play: Greater Rochester & the Finger Lakes in Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, and Yates Counties.

Since the release of the State of Play: Greater Rochester & the Finger Lakes report, the initiative has made significant progress in the following ways:

  • The Rochester Area Community Foundation made their first round of Legacy Fund grants in Youth Sports, awarding $329,000 to twenty organizations that together serve over 6,500 kids
  • Rochester Challenger Miracle Baseball, highlighted in the report, received a grant of over $400,000 to build out and operate Rochester’s only adaptive youth baseball park

Do you want to help activate? Contact: Martin Fox

martin.fox@aspeninstitute.org


State of Play: mobile county, alabama

In 2018, the Aspen Institute is partnering with the Community Foundation of South Alabama, the Jake Peavy Foundation, and the Caring Foundation on State of Play: Mobile County. This initiative is designed to help close the opportunity gap for youth sports in Mobile County, Alabama, where child poverty is at a staggering high. The Aspen Institute and local community leaders will work together to conduct a regional assessment of the landscape of youth sports in the community and produce a State of Play report that identifies key findings known to get and keep kids active in sport and provide recommendations for next steps. The report will be released Oct. 16, 2018, at the Project Play Summit.

Contact: Jon Solomon

jon.solomon@aspeninstitute.org