Project Play was launched 10 years ago by the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program as the nation's first cross-sector, collective impact effort to build healthy communities through sports. The initiative identifies gaps in access to quality sports activities and mobilizes organizations for action.
In celebration of 10 years of Project Play, we’re sharing the impacts of the initiative, including its support and partnership with CMF members the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation (RCWJF) and Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) in launching Project Play: Southeast Michigan in 2017.
According to Project Play, RCWJF’s innovative grantmaking strategies are driven by its regional State of Play reports with Project Play.
RCWJF and CFSEM partnered with the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program to release the comprehensive scan of youth sports in the seven-county region of southeast Michigan. State of Play looked at barriers that exist to children having the opportunity to be active in sports.
After the report's release, Project Play: Southeast Michigan was launched as a three-year effort to share and apply the State of Play framework in the region to identify, shape and move forward initiatives that can help create systemwide change and access for youth.
Project Play: Southeast Michigan is modeled after Project Play’s eight strategies identified by the Aspen Institute to help children become—and stay—physically active through sports.
RCWJF has shared that Project Play’s framework has also been instrumental in guiding its Youth Sports & Recreation grantmaking and regional Project Play initiatives in Western New York and Southeast Michigan.
In 2022, CMF members CFSEM, RCWJF, the William Davidson Foundation and Project Play awarded more than $1.6 million to youth sports organizations in Southeast Michigan to ensure youth in the region had access to equitable sports programs and recreation facilities.
Project Play’s milestones include RCWJF’s distribution of more than $85 million to youth programs and invested another $200 million in skateparks, greenways, bike paths and other recreation infrastructure.
More milestones from Project Play’s impact include:
- Data-driven insights on how well youth are being served through sports have been developed across the country through State of Play reports, including those from Southeast Michigan.
- Hundreds of organizations have used their work to shape their youth strategies or introduce aligned programs, including foundations, professional leagues, media companies and more.
- The first-ever recommendations for the sports sector were created for the National Physical Activity Plan. Project Play helped create the recommendations in 2016 as members of the advisory group.
- The first-ever National Youth Sports Strategy was introduced in 2019 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with recognition of a Project Play report as a key resource for increasing youth sports participation.
Read more about Project Play and its impact over the last 10 years.
Learn more about Project Play: Southeast Michigan.