The LEGO Foundation has announced five recipients of its global Build a World of Play Challenge to fund bold, innovative and impactful solutions focused on early childhood. The LEGO Foundation is awarding a total of DKK 900 million (approximately US$ 117 Million) to support organisations that make substantial contributions to the lives of children from birth to six years old and spark a global movement to prioritise early childhood development.
The Build a World of Play Challenge was launched on February 16, 2022, by the LEGO Foundation to address a global early childhood emergency, characterised by a lack of access globally to quality services and supports that are needed during the critical early years of a child’s development – an emergency which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The awards reaffirm the LEGO Foundation’s commitment in the LEGO® brand’s 90th year to ensure children globally are given opportunities to realise their full potential by learning through play.
Three grants of DKK 200 million (or approx. US$ 28 million) each and two grants for DKK 100 million (or approx. US$ 14 million) each were presented to the five awardees, who collectively represent organisations that will have a meaningful impact on the holistic development of young children through the power of play. The grants will help in furthering specific bold projects which promote the well-being of children, their caregivers, and their communities, using culturally relevant and sustainable approaches.
The five awardee projects are below:
• Akili Family: Localised Play-Based Learning for African Families & Communities (DKK 200 million or approx. US$ 28 million): Ubongo International will scale Akili Family, educational entertainment programmes that air in several African languages on TV, radio, and digital platforms, to support at-home learning through play for children and their caregivers.
• GogoPlay: Ecosystems of Play for Children in Rural South Africa (DKK 200 million or approx. US$ 28 million): IRD Global will build ecosystems for early childhood development in rural South Africa by upskilling women, especially grandmothers (gogos), in play and well-being within villages and co-creating centralised playhouses.
• Reclaiming Indigenous Children’s Futures through Home-Visiting and Intergenerational Playspaces (DKK 200 million or approx. US$ 28 million): Johns Hopkins Center for Indigenous Health and partners worldwide will scale culture-based home education and intergenerational play spaces for the well-being of Indigenous children and families.
• Catalysing REAL Fathers across Uganda for Early Learning and Play (DKK 100 million or approx. US$ 14 million): Impact and Innovations Development Centre and partners will teach positive parenting and non-violent discipline to reinforce positive fatherhood norms, thereby reducing violence and empowering children in Ugandan communities.
• Empowering Disabled Children to Play via Early Assistive Technology Access (DKK 100 million or approx. US$ 14 million): Clinton Health Access Initiative will empower disabled children to play and thrive, by supporting sustainable and community-led government programmes to provide early screening and life-changing assistive technology in eight countries.
Johns Hopkins: Children are the embodiment of wonder, joy and hope for the future. The Family Spirit program weaves together strengths-based home-visiting education and Indigenous cultural practices for families to promote their children’s future wellbeing.
Photo Credit: Ed Cunicelli
Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chairman of the LEGO Foundation Board of Directors, said: “As part of the LEGO brand’s 90th anniversary, the LEGO Foundation made a commitment to help build a better world for young children to thrive. The Build a World of Play Challenge is designed to do just that, by funding innovative projects that make a real difference for global childhood development and give young children a better start in life. Congratulations to all the recipients, who have all demonstrated game-changing solutions. We look forward to working alongside them as long-term partners, to invest in children’s futures.”
The LEGO Foundation partnered with Lever for Change a non-profit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, to manage the Challenge process. Lever for Change connects donors with bold solutions to tackle the world’s biggest problems – including issues like racial inequity, gender inequality, lack of access to economic opportunity, and climate change.
“The LEGO Foundation’s announcement of this group of recipients signals a long-term investment in early childhood development that will pay dividends for decades to come,” added Thomas Kirk Kristiansen. “These outstanding projects are all committed to build inclusivity. They will work to reach and engage with some of the most marginalised children and communities around the world, creating conditions for all children to learn, play, and thrive during the most critical years of their lives.”
The Challenge received a total of 627 valid proposals from 86 countries, from which ten finalists were selected. Applicants were evaluated by multi-disciplinary experts from across the world based on four criteria: whether they were impactful, feasible, community-centred, and sustainable. Each of the ten finalists received approximately DKK 6 million (US$ 1 million) to strengthen their proposed plan, start building their team, and scale up to successfully implement their innovation.
The LEGO Foundation invites other donors to join their efforts, so that all ten of the top-ranked solutions can be fully funded. Donors interested in providing additional funding for this challenge should contact Dana Rice, Vice President of Philanthropy, Lever for Change at email@example.com.
More details on the Build a World of Play Challenge can be found at learningthroughplay.com/build-a-world-of-play/the-challenge
CHAI: “Two children play after a wheelchair fitting at Shonaquip Social Enterprises in Cape Town, South Africa. The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) is working to ensure that the right assistive technology, including wheelchairs, hearing aids and glasses, is available, accessible, and fitted specially to the needs of the individual child, no matter where they live.”