PlayBuild Named Winner in KaBOOM! Play Everywhere Challenge

$15K Grant Will Fund Phase One of PL@Y MLK Bringing Play to the MLK Neutral Ground

[NEW ORLEANS, LA]. – This week, PlayBuild was selected as a winner in the Play Everywhere Challenge, a $1 million national competition that will award innovative ideas to make play easy, available, and fun for kids and families in cities across the U.S. The Challenge is hosted by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America.

PlayBuild, in partnership with the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane University will receive $15,000 of funding to launch Phase One of PL@Y MLK – transforming the neutral ground of the Martin Luther King corridor in Central City as a weekend play destination for kids and families.

PL@Y MLK was selected as one of 50 winners out of a pool of more than 1,000 applications nationwide.

Working in collaboration with Taylor and local community partners, PlayBuild will deploy a mobile PL@Y MLK play station full of large and small-scale toys, games and creative play activities on the MLK neutral ground. Temporary seating will enable kids and families to gather and play.

Phase One will see the launch of the first mobile play station on MLK in November. Later phases of the project will see the rollout of additional themed play stations, which will be housed with community partners along MLK Boulevard between Simon Bolivar and Claiborne Avenues. PlayBuild will fundraise an additional $30K with a goal of implementing the project fully by mid-2017.

The Play Everywhere Challenge was developed in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Target, Playworld, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Endowment for the Arts. It has attracted an outpouring of creative ideas to spark kids’ imaginations and get their bodies moving.

The PL@Y MLK concept came from a desire to reach more Central City, New Orleans kids with PlayBuild’s unique program to engage them in design-themed play with a range of innovative toys and materials. PlayBuild operates from a formerly blighted that has been converted into an outdoor classroom. PlayBuild’s play space is located at 2828 Thalia Street, one block from Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Angela Kyle, Playbuild co-founder explains: PL@Y MLK originated from a neighborhood experience in April 2016 with the Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking. Feedback from residents of the MLK corridor between Simon Bolivar and Claiborne Avenues confirmed that access to everyday play spots is a challenge. Kids still lack play opportunities within a safe walking distance. Creating and regularly mobilizing our portable play station along MLK, we hope to address that challenge.

PlayBuild will work closely with with local anchor institutions like churches and community centers and will recruit neighborhood residents and Tulane University students to help implement, refine the designs, run play stations, and monitor and evaluate impact.. Research shows play is vital to healthy brain development and is pivotal to how kids learn problem-solving, conflict resolution, and creativity–in other words, the skills they need to succeed as adults. Yet today, too many kids, especially those growing up in poverty, are missing out on opportunities for play because of families’ time pressures, the lure of screens, and a lack of safe places to go. Meanwhile, evidence shows missing out on play time puts kids at risk for challenges ranging from obesity to anxiety to trouble adjusting in school.

“Winners like PlayBuild and the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking are at the vanguard of building kid-friendly cities that meet the needs of families and enable kids to thrive,” said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!. “By integrating play into everyday spaces in such an innovative way, PL@Y MLK is a great model to inspire other cities across the country to follow suit.”

“Winning this challenge is a win for New Orleans kids, and for their chances to grow and develop through play,” said Angela Kyle, Co-founder of PlayBuild applicant. “This prize will help us build on the work we are doing in Central City by creating a portable and visible way for PlayBuild to have a presence on the MLK corridor and meet more neighborhood kids and parents. We hope this prize will be a bellwether for Central City and set an example for all of New Orleans. Starting here on the neutral ground we can design a real, radical transformation to make play a way of life for all kids and families in our community. PL@Y MLK addresses equity issues in New Orleans at ground zero by making play accessible especially in underserved neighborhoods.”

To learn more about PlayBuild’s ideas for making play happen everywhere in Central City, and across New Orleans, and to express interest in partnering with PL@Y MLK contact PlayBuild co-founder Angela Kyle by email at

Visit PlayBuild online at:, on Facebook at:, and follow on Twitter: @PlayBuild_NOLA

For press queries contact Amy Barrios at MultiMedia Solutions by phone at 504-621-5646

To learn more about the Play Everywhere Challenge, and view a gallery of winning ideas from cities across the US, please visit


About PlayBuild
PlayBuild is a three-year old education non-profit based in Central City. PlayBuild’s mission is to transform under-utilized urban spaces into dynamic play environments for kids. In 2013, PlayBuild turned a blighted lot on Thalia Street into an outdoor classroom, hosting neighborhood charter schools for after-school activities. In 2014 PlayBuild partnered with Palmisano Contractors to fulfill the dream of a permanent play space with an open-air classroom, green space and a garden. Beyond Central City, throughout the year PlayBuild produces pop-up play events for kids and families in partnership with local community organizations. For more info please visit: You can follow PlayBuild on Facebook at:, and on Twitter at @PlayBuild_NOLA


About the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Design Thinking and Social Innovation
Taylor dissolves boundaries and inspires collaboration between students, staff, faculty, and community members to develop innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social and environmental problems. Founded in 2014 with a generous gift from Phyllis M. Taylor, the center coalesces campus and community engagement in social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and design thinking, providing a unique interdisciplinary inter-section of thought and action on our campus and in our local and global community. Activities at Taylor include an academic minor, workshops, speakers, competitions, and other programs working with diverse faculty, staff, students and community partners.


New Orleans Lot to be Transformed into Architectural Playground

Local Nonprofit Partners with Contracting Firm to Build Design-Themed Playground in Central City


An early rendering of the next phase of PlayBuild's outdoor classroom at 2828 Thalia Street in Central City, New Orleans.

An early rendering of the next phase of PlayBuild’s outdoor classroom at 2828 Thalia Street in Central City, New Orleans.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015
10 AM
2828 Thalia Street, Central City
(Look for the lot with a green shipping container at the corner of Willow Street)


PlayBuild, an educational nonprofit focused on teaching kids about design and architecture, is partnering with New Orleans Contracting Firm, Palmisano Contractors, to turn a Central City eyesore into an innovative new playground. The new PlayBuild play space will host programs and classes to teach neighborhood kids and school children about design through experiential play and hands-on art activities.

In 2013, PlayBuild turned an overgrown, blighted lot at 2828 Thalia Street into an outdoor classroom, hosting neighborhood charter schools for afterschool lessons and field trips. The nonprofit’s recent partnership with Palmisano Contractors will fulfill the dream of a permanent play space, tied to PlayBuild’s mission of creating dynamic spaces for kids to learn and play. Palmisano will build out the site with assistance from its network of construction partners, delivering a six-figure investment to the community.

The site will feature open green space for free play as well as benches, tables and seating for more structured classroom-style lessons. In the space, PlayBuild will host building and construction-related play activities with blocks and other learning toys as well as design-themed arts and crafts. The site will also feature a small garden. From its current state the site will also be upgraded with electricity, plumbing facilities and wifi. PlayBuild plans to host local kids and school groups on weekdays and afterschool, along with special events on the weekends.

“Since the beginning our vision has been to create a dynamic and exciting destination for our Central City block and for the neighboring families and schools in the vicinity” said Angela Kyle, co-founder of PlayBuild. “Kids need safe and accessible play environments. PlayBuild delivers on that need. Our play environment is also a learning environment where kids can be inspired and appreciate the richness of New Orleans architecture and the local culture and history of their neighborhoods and their city.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Palmisano on the final phase of the site development for 2828 Thalia Street. Since the beginning Wesley and his team have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to helping us bring this project to fruition. They have mobilized their network of partners and brought their unparalleled professionalism and project management expertise to bear on making the project a success. We cannot thank them enough for believing in our mission and bringing us one step closer to the execution of our vision,” Kyle said.

Wesley Palmisano, owner of Palmisano Contractors, says he’s also happy with the partnership. “We searched our surrounding neighborhood for a local cause that has a true impact in our community,” Palmisano said. “PlayBuild’s programming is unique because it concentrates on educating kids about architecture and construction, which made it a great fit for us. We’re very excited to take an active role in the revitalization of Central City and helping to provide a vital service for kids.”

We invite you to join us Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at 10 am as we break ground on this innovative, new play space in Central City!



About PlayBuild

PlayBuild is a two-year old educational nonprofit co-founded by Angela Kyle and Charlotte Jones and based in Central City, New Orleans.  PlayBuild’s mission is to transform under-utilized urban spaces into exciting kid-friendly environments for play and learning. PlayBuild has received local and national attention for their innovative model, which uses hands-on activities to teach kids about architecture and design. PlayBuild partners with charter elementary schools and community organizations to reach kids, ages 4-12.  In just under two years through school partnerships and community outreach PlayBuild has engaged over 1,200 local kids. 

In 2012, PlayBuild was named a Top 10 semifinalist in the 2012 PitchNOLA Lots of Progress contest.  The organization received grant support in 2013 from KaBoom and Dr. Pepper Snapple and in 2014 from the Jazz and Heritage Foundation. PlayBuild was named a semifinalist in the 2014 LEGO Foundation and Ashoka Changemakers Re-Imagine Learning Challenge, a global competition to identify social innovators working at the intersection of learning and play. In September 2014, PlayBuild was voted one of New Orleans’ favorite education start-ups in the education entrepreneur challenge.   

PlayBuild is a registered nonprofit corporation in the state of Louisiana.  For charitable purposes and to accept tax-exempt donations, the organization operates under the fiscal umbrella of Neighborhoods Partnership Network (NPN), a registered 501c(3).  


About Palmisano Contractors 
Palmisano Contractors is a cutting-edge general contractor, with New Orleans roots dating back to 1950, delivering a wide range of project types regionally. Today, the third-generation company is forging a new building tradition, led by a tenured team of construction professionals. Palmisano Contractors specializes in a collaborative delivery process that guides each project from concept to completion. The company maintains a smaller size and low overhead while having the financial strength necessary to complete larger projects.





Amy Sneed Barrios
Multimedia Solutions
1615 Poydras Street
Suite 900
New Orleans, LA 70112