5-For-5:  How Are We Doing?

PlayBuild recently turned 5 years old.  We’ve come a long way since we started, but we still have a long way to go to stabilize resources and ensure that we can create long-term impact in Central City and beyond.

With emerging opportunities like the Claiborne Corridor Cultural Innovation District, and demands for more school and event partnerships, we are using our 5-year milestone to hit pause and take stock of our current performance, and our near and short-terms needs.

PlayBuild’s program delivery is driven by people, and we need funding to hire and train them, especially our network of community mentors.

Transportation will also help us stabilize our neighorhood efforts and to bring kids safely from across Claiborne and MLK and from other parts of Central City to our Thalia Street space.


Our 5-Year Scorecard

PlayBuild Scorecard for their 2017 Programs
Neighborhood Open Play – In the past sponsorship support and GiveNOLA funds have enabled up to hire community mentors and to produce a consistent weekly schedule of after-school programs and seasonal weekend events. 

Short-term needs:  funding to hire community mentors to staff Thalia Street consistently five days a week after-school and for weekend family and event programming

Long-term needs:  transportation to shuttle our PlayBuilders from different parts of the neighborhood to Thalia Street and to take small groups on field trips and other excursions

  • PlayBuild in Schools – We are looking to build on our partnership with First Line Schools, which is currently in its second year. Last week we hosted our Langston Hughes Academy 2nd graders for their first trip to Thalia Street.

These kinds of outings and experiences are key to getting our PlayBuilders out into the City to experience the richness of New Orleans architecture and neighborhood history firsthand.

Short-term needs:  We want to offer more field trip and learning excursions to our Langston Hughes students and to other groups of students across the First Line Network

Long-term needs:  In order to expand our schools program we need to invest further in curriculum content and growing our instructional capacity.  We’re working on those plans now and will share more in 2018.

  • PL@Y MLK – Our PL@Y MLK pilot ended in the Spring, but we’re looking to bring play back to the neutral ground, and to make the program bigger and better in 2018. We need to implement some design features on the corridor for safety, and to build a coalition of partners and collaborators who can help us create an Open Streets movement in 2018.  We’ll kick off in January during MLK Weekend with a goal of popping up weekly throughout the spring, and building momentum for an Open Streets initiative in the summer.

Short and long-term needs:  a local sponsor to support our efforts to create environmental design elements and offset costs of moving and storage.

  • Events – We’ve just wrapped our event season for 2017, and are going into planning mode for 2018 with an eye on April which is when our biggest events happen including Jazz Fest, Zurich Classic and Mini Maker Faire.

Short and long-term needs:  an umbrella sponsor to support our entire events program would stabilize our efforts and ensure that we can deliver a more consistent experience for kids and families across the multiple events that we produce each year.

  • “Learning Through Play” Curriculum Design– in the Spring we completed an important phase of Research & Development work led by Advisory Board Member, Dr. Michael Hanson and a team of Masters student researchers at Columbia Teachers College. Building on 3 months of research into how kids learn through play, Michael’s work identified 8 learning outcomes to provide the foundation for our Learning Through Play Curriculum, and guide our content development.

Short and long-term needs:  we need a long-term strategic partner or source or funding to complete the next phase of this work.


Our Season of Thanks + Giving

In honor of our 5-year milestone we are kicking off a season of Thanks + Giving to acknowledge the supporters who have brought us to where we are today, and to solicit support for our year-end fundraising efforts.

Next Tuesday, November 28th is Giving Tuesday, and we invite you to support our mission and our work with a tax-deductible contribution.

Our 5-For-5 vision and roadmap are ambitious, and we won’t get there without your continued support.


You can make an immediate impact on the work we do in Neighborhood and Schools with a $25, $50 or $100 contribution.

For our longer-term initiatives – PL@Y MLK, our Events Program, and our “Learning Through Play” Curriculum Development initiative we need deeper pockets and deeper partnerships.

We invite you to get in touch if you or your company has an interest in sponsorship, or your organization might be a good fit for a strategic partnership to help us reach some of our larger goals.

10 Memorable Moments of 2015

As we wind down 2015 we invite you to look back with us on some of the highlights.

The past 12 months marked some major milestones for our 3-year old venture.

1 – We cut the ribbon on our newly renovated space on Thalia Street. Capping off a six-month partnership with Palmisano Contractors. In April we broke ground on the final phase of construction followed by our official ribbon cutting in late July.  The IMG_0378culmination of the Thalia Street development in which over 30 partners contributed over $100K of services, materials and labor has been our most significant milestone yet in enabling us to fulfill our mission of transforming under-utilized urban spaces into dynamic play and learning environments for kids 4-12.  Last week we were thrilled to announce that Palmisano was awarded a 2015 Excellence in Construction award for their work on PlayBuild.

2 – We established our founding Board of Directors and Strategic Advisory Board.  We were thrilled to welcome Sean Tate, Dr. Lauren Bierbaum, Jason Marsalis and Cliff Worley to our founding Board of Directors and to welcome 8 other individuals from around the country to our Advisory Board.   To read the bios of our Board and Advisory Board members click here.

3 – We forged a key strategic partnership with Louisiana Healthcare Connections to support our open play sessions at Thalia Street.  In addition to hosting two afternoons/week of after school sessions, with LHC’s support beginning in November, we have been able to staff and support two additional after-school play sessions for the neighborhood. 

4 – More than 90 supporters contributed to our 2015 GiveNOLA campaign  – a 33% increase over participation in 2014. In addition nearly 100% of the contributors to our 2014 campaign re-confirmed their support for our work – many with increased contributions.  With lagniappe and matching funds, we secured over $20K from GiveNOLA in 2015.

5 – We forged deeper ties with our community partners – Tulane University and the French Market Corporation.   From our participation in the Taylor Center for Design Thinking and Social Innovation’s Fast 48 boot camp to our collaboration with Tulane City Center to host kids’ workshops and walking tours we laid groundwork for an ongoing alliance with Tulane.  In the second year of our French Market partnership we produced our pop-up at three major festivals, and we were able to incubate a new program – Build by Ear – developed in partnership with Board Member Jason Marsalis with the twin aims of educating kids about New Orleans’ jazz and historic architecture.

6 – KaBoom! and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation both doubled
11127670_992177844127557_5518255848383392581_n down on their support for PlayBuild.  In July we were awarded a second Let’s Play grant from KaBoom! and Dr. Pepper Snapple Foundation for the Rig-a-ma-Jig equipment.  In August we were awarded a second Community Partner grant from Jazz and Heritage to support our after-school programs.

7 – Over 1,000 PlayBuilders visited us in the Kids’ Tent at Jazz and Heritage Festival during the Festival’s second weekend.  Our JazzFest outing was one of the highlights of our event schedule, and we could not have pulled it off without the support of a small army of volunteers.

8 – We entered new partnerships with key local and national organizations including:
Prospect 3 – hosting over 30 PlayBuilders for a visit to the Shigeru Ban Exhibit.  Our Build-a-Ban workshop allowed the kids to get hands-on by making Ban-inspired structures.  Our P3 partnership was a powerful example of our ability to make contemporary design accessible and engaging for kids.
AIGA – collaborating with the national and local chapters at AIGA enabled us to engage local elementary kids in a “Design Career Day” and a Design Challenge around New Orleans’ Tri-Centennial.
NORDC – our screening of the LEGO Movie and our pre-movie Block Party brought a kids and family audience to a nighttime event at AL Davis Park along with partners Louisiana Healthcare Connection, Revolution Foods and the New Orleans Fire Department.

Shigeru Ban workshop9 – We took the stage – We were thrilled to be invited to share our story at major industry events highlighting our work in design education and creative placemaking.  We shared our story in keynote talks and panel discussions at Structures for Inclusion, AIA’s EdSpaces, National Organization of Minority Architects, and the AIGA National Convention.

10 – We commemorated K10 – Our involvement in the 10-year Katrina commemoration was an affirmation that the work we are doing has significant awareness and momentum, as well as confirmation that as we look to the Next 10 years, there is still a lot of work to be done.  As one of the many dignitaries and officials said of the 10-year Katrina milestone – “The first 10 years were hard.  Now we are into the long middle.”

2016 marks the beginning of this next chapter, for New Orleans as well as for PlayBuild.  Our past 3 years we have built awareness, established our presence at Thalia Street, and proven that there is demand for our programming and events.
Now we need to establish a sustainable organizational and operating model, secure funding to engage additional instructors and recruit experienced executive leadership and tap a deeper well of grant funding to secure multi-year commitments.

How You Can Help

Support PlayBuild through a year-end contribution by visiting our website and donating via PayPalEven small donations have impact.

If you are able to commit to a recurring $10/month contribution your support throughout the year.

Donations made before midnight on December 31st are eligible for tax deduction for the 2015 tax year.

Please pay it forward for the future of New Orleans.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Angela + Charlotte
Team PlayBuild

In the past 12 months with your support, we have engaged over 1,500 kids through our community and school partnerships and our Central City neighborhood outreach.

To view some short videos of our work and testimonials from our supporters and partners please visit our YouTube channel.