The idea for Out2Play started when Andrea Wenner was at Columbia Business School. Andrea’s initial business plan – and her enthusiasm – so impressed one of her professors that he encouraged her to develop it further and even helped secure funding for her first playground renovation. That was 2005.
Today, Andrea is Executive Director of Out2Play, with 155 playgrounds finished in all five boroughs. Along the way she has partnered with city and state officials as well as corporate, foundation and individual supporters to secure sufficient funding. Each playground costs about $250,000. Her commitment to a public/private approach has proved instrumental to Out2Play’s success.
Once funding is in place, Andrea and her team broaden their collaboration even further. The design process always includes principals, teachers, architects, and of course students. In this way, Out2Play ensures that every playground meets the unique needs of a particular school.
Out2Play offers a large ‘menu’ of equipment and activity spaces (including facilities for special needs children). Among them are jungle gyms, hopscotch games, basketball courts, chess tables, double-dutch zones, even trees and planting areas. One thing, however, is far and away the most popular request: “Slides,” says Andrea, “the kids always want slides.”
Andrea and her staff work closely with their funders, the Department of Education and the NYC School Construction Authority to select appropriate sites – Out2Play’s ultimate goal is to provide a playspace to every New York City elementary school that needs one. However, priority is given to elementary schools in high-need neighborhoods where the average family income is typically less than 2/3 of the city-wide average.