National Project Play

The power of play changes everything.

It sets our children up for success, it keeps them healthy, it strengthens our communities—and every child should benefit from it.

Parents and leaders from across sectors believe in the power of play to build healthy children and communities. They’re concerned about rising participation fees, high attrition and low physical activity rates, injury risks and a shift away from unstructured play. They also recognize that no one group alone can address these trends.

Launched in 2013 by the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program, Project Play develops, applies and shares knowledge that helps build healthy communities through sports. We produce reports that take measurements of the state of play at the national, regional and city levels, with exclusive data and insights. We create frameworks and tools that stakeholders can use to grow access to quality sport. Then each fall, we develop new ideas and push the movement forward at the Project Play Summit, the nation’s premier annual gathering of leaders at the intersection of youth, sports and health. In the past, the event has been attended by prominent figures, including Kobe Bryant and Michelle Obama. This September, the Project Play Summit is coming to Detroit.

We also mobilize leaders at the community level. In Baltimore, Harlem, Southeast Michigan and Western New York, we use Collective Impact methodology to create shared agendas and develop mutually reinforcing actions. We help foundations shape grant-making criteria and connect local groups with national organizations that can lead to new investment or innovative partnerships.