Project Play Champions are organizations taking new, meaningful, specific actions consistent with the strategies of Project Play. Annually, we select organizations to be Project Play Champions and the groups listed were selected as the 2019 class of Project Play Champions.


America scores milwaukee

In 2019, the Milwaukee Youth Sports Alliance – an initiative developed by America SCORES Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Bucks and Bader Philanthropies – will landscape youth sports in the community and mobilize leaders to activate around the report findings. This local report will landscape organized youth sport offerings in school and afterschool programs, analyze local philanthropic support for youth sports, and culminate in a series of policy insights. These insights will educate youth sports leaders, funders, and policymakers and chart a path forward to transform the youth sports ecosystem for kids in Milwaukee.


city of rochester department of recreation & youth service

In 2019, the City of Rochester Department of Recreation and Youth Services (DRYS) will integrate the How To Coach Kids course into all annual coach training for the 15 community centers in the city of Rochester, reaching 350 certifeid coaches annually. This training will provide new and novice coaches (including parent coaches) with an introduction to coaching logistics, as well as sport-specific tools and techniques. In addition, all DRYS athletic programs will integrate the Project Play framework into their programming.

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coachsafely foundation

In 2019, the Coach Safely Foundation commits to expanding its abuse prevention training to reach 60,000 coaches, targeting coaches of kids in grades 1-8. This commitment builds on the activation around the Coach Safety Act, passed by the Alabama state legislature in 2018, which requires youth leagues and organizations to develop a coach safety program that meets the minimum requirements and maintain records of course completion by individual coaches. The Coach Safely Foundation convened cross-sector representatives to develop a strategy to integrate the CoachSafely training into school systems. To date, the foundation has trained 12,000 coaches.


esf camps & Experiences

Created by the program development team at ESF Camps & Experiences, SportsLab, Powered by Under Armour, integrated Project Play strategies to guide its programming in 2019. A sports sampling camp for boys and girls, ages 6-14, ESF SportsLab launched this multisport platform, with a character-building curriculum, to instill a lifelong passion for sports and healthy living in young athletes. ESF will deliver more than 6,000 weeks of SportsLab to more than 3,000 young athletes in 2020 at locations in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. SportsLab will be deployed nationally in 2021.

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everybody, healthy body

In 2019, EveryBody Healthy Body, a community-based organization working to ensure inclusive programming for all residents in Butte County, was selected by the Aaron Rodgers NorCal Fire Recovery Fund to lead a Task Force on Health, Education and Physical Activity (including sports) to address recovery efforts in the region resulting from the devastating Camp Fire of 2018. Stakeholders from throughout Butte County will map partner activities towards recovery, inventory recreation and sport-based facilities that remain operational after the fire, and identify gaps and needs. The Task Force will plan key intervention points for collaboration and grant making to increase physical activity space, facilities and programming.


georgia southern university

In order to build capacity for coaches in rural, underserved areas, in 2019, Georgia Southern University will launch a coaching series to train local coaches from middle schools, high schools and recreation centers in the southeastern region of Georgia. This coaching series will provide a low-barrier introduction to coaching for new coaches and parents, as well as sport-specific techniques and training to build coaching capacity. The university will also launch an online education and resource hub, complete with downloadable tools and coaching tips. Georgia Southern University serves as a resource and education hub for seven counties surrounding it, with a goal to train 100 coaches in the first year.

good sports

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In 2019, Good Sports, an organization that provides a diverse range of sporting equipment, footwear and apparel to communities most in need across the United States, will launch the “She Who Plays” initiative, with a commitment to donate $1 million in brand-new sports and fitness equipment, apparel and footwear to create new and equitable access to sport for girls. Under this initiative, Good Sports will assess the need for girls’ equipment in the organizations they currently serve, expand the number of girls-only programs they serve, and leverage their outreach to equipment manufacturers to obtain equipment and apparel to support the initiative.

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gr8 sports, great kids

In the 2019-20 school year GR8 Sports, Great Kids, a funding arm for afterschool athletics in Grand Rapids Public Schools, will create a new elementary level coordinator position to train volunteer coaches, manage communication with parents and track the thousands of athletes that participate in the programs. GR8 Sports, Great Kids recently expanded its support of sports programming for middle schoolers to include elementary school kids, to ensure that all students in grades K-8 could participate in sports, regardless of their ability to pay. This coordinator will integrate the How To Coach Kids course into volunteer coach training, to reach the 60 coaches who serve the 3,800 kids in the program.


kids in the game

In early 2020, KIDS in the GAME, an organization providing funding for sport registration fees to low-income families through their Pass program, will scale the Pass program nationally, beginning with a pilot region in the Pacific Northwest (Washington state, Oregon, and Idaho). To date, their programming has helped over 2,000 school-aged kids in Portland, OR; Dallas, TX; San Diego, CA; Leadville, CO and Central Oregon in need of financial assistance. Through this commitment, KIDS in the GAME will continue its efforts to lower financial barriers keeping low-income kids from playing sports, with a goal of serving an additional 1,400 kids through its PNW pilot.

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kings county tennis league

Beginning in 2019, Kings County Tennis League (KCTL), an organization that builds or creates tennis courts on the empty blacktop spaces in and around New York City Housing Authority developments, will expand its work from five to six sites. It will reach an estimated 250 kids living in and around low-income housing developments by 2021. Through this innovative programming delivery mechanism, KCTL brings its tennis and life skills program directly to where the families are living. KCTL's goal is to remove all traditional barriers connected to playing and learning tennis in a city, making access to courts and coaching, along with free equipment priorities.

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lancaster recreation commission

Using the Project Play checklist for National Sport Organizations, the Lancaster Recreation Commission commits to launching two community sport sampling events per year and will develop a field-facing sport sampling event toolkit to support other organizations in adopting policies and practices that promote sport sampling among youth. This commitment builds on the Lancaster Recreation Commission’s partnership with the School District of Lancaster and the Boys and Girls Club of Lancaster, where they launched an inaugural sport sampling day, entitled Celebration of Sport, in 2019. The event featured 10 different athletic activities and drew 250 participants, including organizations from other sectors that touch the lives of kids and youth to encourage a physical activity and holistic well-being.



In 2019, LeagueApps will launch an initiative to dedicate 1% of its company revenue to building capacity for youth sport organizations, as part of its FundPlay program. Through providing technical support for software, websites, cash grants, technology training, insights and mentoring, LeagueApps will work to ensure accessibility for all, particularly those with limited access to technology solutions. Through this initiative, LeagueApps will impact 500,000 underserved kids playing youth sports by 2022.

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In 2019, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), in partnership with Under Armour and ESPN, will launch the implementation phase of the RePlay initiative and provide up to $75,000 implementation grants. In 2018, the RePlay initiative, a national effort to revitalize vacant spaces into places for sports, recreation and play in low to moderate income neighborhoods, provided planning grants totaling $400,000 to local organizations to plan and execute these projects. The RePlay initiative will now to help groups move from the planning to execution phase of this initiative, to create safe recreation spaces to exercise and play on currently vacant lots.


minnesota youth ski league

In 2019, the Minnesota Youth Ski League (MYSL), a volunteer organization that offers kids ages 4-14 the opportunity to develop their cross country skiing skills, will launch a training course to integrate a version of the SafeSport training course to train 800 coaches in MYSL. This training and its online component will cover mandatory reporting, sexual misconduct awareness education, and emotional and physical misconduct, along with sport-specific training related to skiing.

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national recreation and park association

In the next year, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) will integrate youth voice into the groundbreaking Parks for Inclusion initiative, which focuses on engaging marginalized populations such as kids with physical or cognitive disabilities, LGBTQ youth, racial and ethnic minorities, and New Americans. NRPA will convene focus groups with youth and staff and deploy a survey to a segment of their members to develop a report for local park and recreation professionals to actively solicit and integrate youth voice into the design of youth sports and recreation leagues, park and recreation access, and utilization. This report will serve as a guide for other national youth-serving organizations to activate around youth voice. The Parks for Inclusion Initiative aims to improve access to parks and recreation for 2 million people by September 2020.


special olympics

In December 2019, Special Olympics – an organization seeking to create a world of inclusion and community, where everyone is accepted and welcomed, regardless of their ability – will increase its developmental sports offerings by releasing an implementation guide for coaches, which will reach an estimated 100,000 children with and without intellectual disabilities. The new focus area will bring together children with and without intellectual disabilities to participate in multisport, non-competitive, inclusive play. These new resources will support children in a critical phase of play as they transition into competition.


squashsmarts, inc.

In 2019, SquashSmarts – a place-based nonprofit in North & West Philadelphia offering free out-of-school time program that integrates squash education, academic support and leadership skills – will hire a program alum as an In-School Engagement Coordinator to work with P.E. teachers to introduce free squash sessions into the schools’ gym curriculum. To date, SquashSmarts has partnered with five targeted low-performing schools that have limited gym or after-school activities in those neighborhoods, which serve 130 kids (sixth to 12th graders) and 80 alumni (ages between 18-24 years) in its core program. SquashSmarts commits to growing engagement and programming towards younger students in fourth and fifth grade, with a goal of expanding community program reach to 600-800 kids in these partners schools.

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teen runs dc

In 2019, Teens Run DC, an organization that promotes the physical, social, and emotional well-being of underserved youth through a mentoring, distance running, and social emotional learning, will launch a new initiative: Traveling 5K Races. This will bring TRDC’s curriculum to at least five new D.C. schools, involving at least 50 students per school. TRDC will engage at least 250 new students this year. TRDC will coordinate races during the school day, supplementing PE activities that D.C.’s under-resourced schools are unable to offer and will explore bringing 5Ks to additional schools each year.

usa field hockey + us lacrosse program


In 2019, USA Field Hockey and US Lacrosse partnered to develop a multi-sport sampling program called Stick2Sports, providing boys and girls with an affordable introduction to field hockey and lacrosse in an innovative sport sampling clinic led by trained lacrosse and field hockey coach members. The program aligns with each organizations’ Athlete and American Development Models and the Project Play framework. USA Field Hockey and US Lacrosse are committed to optimizing and expanding the Stick2Sports program in the future to encourage multi-sport sampling and participation.

U.S. soccer foundation


In 2019, through the Safe Places to Play initiative, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, in partnership with Musco Lighting, will transition to a new system that includes light fixtures, equipment storage containers, and benches for all subsequent mini-pitches. The Safe Spaces to Play initiative uses the “think small” approach to ensure that the small-sided court can be customized for play in areas where space is at a premium. The mini-pitches are ideal for both organized programming and free play, and to date, nearly 200 mini-pitches have been created in communities nationwide. This activation will extend the hours that people can be active and continue to cultivate play spaces where youth and community members can play safely and be active.

In previous years we recognized organizations who were making meaningful commitments in line with Project Play strategies. Click here to see an overview of the inaugural 2018 class of Project Play Champions and What’s Your Play organizations.