November 18, 2020

Make the Most of Learning at Home With PBS KIDS

Are you interested in learning how to develop a learning routine for your family and increase your child’s motivation to learn? Join PBS Kids on November 18 for their online event, “Make the Most of Learning at Home With PBS KIDS.”


With children across the country learning at home, parents and caregivers are facing new challenges. PBS KIDS invites parents and caregivers of children ages five to eight to come together for a discussion with educators, a child psychologist, and fellow parents. Get ideas on how to use PBS KIDS resources to encourage everyday playful learning. Presenters will answer questions and share tips on how you can maintain a strong connection with your child’s school, help your child stay motivated to learn, and develop a learning routine for your family.


To register for this event, visit the PBS Kids website.


September 4, 2020

Early Childhood League Launch & Expansion of Recess Advocacy Team

On September 1, 2020, Trying Together and the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative were awarded grants through The Grable Foundation and Remake Learning’s Tomorrow campaign. Through this funding, both entities will work to address early childhood needs in Pennsylvania.


Trying Together is a leading advocate for high-quality early care and education in Pennsylvania and a co-founder of the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative and Recess Advocacy Team. With funds from the Tomorrow grant, Trying Together will launch an Early Childhood League and the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative will expand the Recess Advocacy Team to engage additional youth, families, organizations, and communities as advocates to address early learning constraints in the region.

“Through the Tomorrow grants, we will be able to work with community members that we may not have previously to learn about their early learning priorities for children so we may support them in mobilizing to take action,” said Cara Ciminillo, Executive Director at Trying Together.

Trying Together

Tomorrow Campaign Project: Early Childhood League

The Early Childhood League will partner with Trying Together, its advocacy partners, and each other to transform early childhood education conditions in the region. Members of the League will include selected parents and other caregivers of young children; community organizations; and a large institution that is to be determined.

The League will achieve improvements in local early learning environments by receiving training, similar to the Early Childhood Advocacy Fellowship, from Trying Together and other experts. Training topics will include:

    • communications techniques;
    • community organizing strategies;
    • early childhood education principles; and
    • public policy processes.

With ongoing programmatic support from Trying Together and the Tomorrow grant, the League will acquire the agency to develop and implement an advocacy plan that further advances the efforts of existing statewide early childhood policy campaigns such as Start Strong PA (child care), Pre-K for PA (pre-k), and Childhood Begins at Home (home visiting).

More information and application details will be available soon. Please continue to monitor the Trying Together website, Facebook, and Twitter page for future updates.

Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative

Tomorrow Campaign Project: Recess Advocacy Team

The Recess Advocacy Team’s mission is to educate and advocate for the importance of recess; engage with children, families, and educators on recess experiences; establish a resource for recess-related advocacy, policy, and best practices; and engage stakeholders in recess advocacy efforts.

By partnering with a regional school district, the Recess Advocacy Team will utilize this funding to support efforts to conduct a needs assessment survey and develop a toolkit for children, parents, and educators who want to serve as recess champions. As a part of the toolkit, funding will also support professional development and training related to advocacy and topics such as:

    • creatively using school space for physical activity;
    • indoor recess ideas; and
    • volunteer recess supervision.

While this partnership will focus on one district, the Team’s outcomes and products will be scalable and designed to be replicated with other school districts to best meet their needs. Additional details will be available soon.

For information on how to join and more, visit the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative website.

About the Tomorrow Campaign

A $1.4 million dollar investment in organizations throughout the region, the Tomorrow campaign is an effort to #RemakeTomorrow, one where every learner is prepared to “create the future of learning” when everyone combines timeless ideas and new ways to learn.

Last spring, the Tomorrow campaign asked 17 nonprofit organizations to boldly imagine what smart risks they might take if they had research and development (R&D) funding – not for covering current activities, but for pursuing experimental ideas, testing new concepts, and finding powerful ways to move their field toward the future of learning.

“Each of these projects represents the imagination and resourcefulness not only of the 17 grantees, but also of the many partner organizations who will join them in their efforts,” says Kristen Burns, Associate Director of The Grable Foundation. “We hope these grants will provide a spark that will help move the entire field of learning forward in our region.”

More Information

For more information, read the full press release.


November 7, 2019

Recess: A Community Conversation

Children, parents, and community members are invited to join the Recess Advocacy Team on November 7 to discuss their school recess experiences.

The evening will include conservation, playful activities, networking, dinner, and more!

More Information

For questions, contact

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To register, complete the form below.



August 19, 2019

Hazelwood Community to Celebrate Elizabeth Street Park Opening

The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative and Trying Together, in cooperation with the City of Pittsburgh, invite community members and stakeholders to celebrate the official opening of the Elizabeth Street Park in Hazelwood on Wednesday, August 28.


Located on the corner of Roma Way and Gloster Street, the Elizabeth Street Park was revitalized thanks to a grant from the Heinz Endowments. Working in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Works and Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative, and Trying Together contracted with various entities to design and create the park.

Efforts for the park began in March 2015, born out of a community conversation around access to play in Hazelwood. Youth, community members, and community stakeholders joined together to brainstorm and design the park as a stop along the Hazelwood Play Trail. The location of the park was selected to help bridge the division created by the train tracks that split Hazelwood.

Located across Roma Way from a KaBOOM! community-built playground, created with funds from the Heinz Endowments and partnership between the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative, Trying Together, and the Hazelwood Initiative in September 2016, the park features a beautiful mural inspired by the rich history and community members of Hazelwood. The City’s Public Art & Civic Design Division released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify artists to complete the mural on the bridge, with the highest score going to local artists Edith Abeyta and Sandy Kessler-Kaminski.

Event Details

Community members are invited to join together at the Elizabeth Street Park on August 28 from 5 to 7:00 p.m. for an opening celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony, featuring:

    • food,
    • family-friendly games,
    • music from the Center of Life’s KRUNK program,
    • and Hazelwood-relevant information tables.

Visit the event page to learn more.


The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative and Trying Together thank the following organizations, individuals, and entities for their dedicated support and for the work they have done to make this project a success: the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Works, Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, Department of Public Safety, Department of City Planning, and Art Commission; Zone 4 Police; the Office of Corey O’Connor; the Hazelwood Initiative; the Heinz Endowments; Studio for Spatial Practice; 1 over 1 Studio; Edith Abeyta; Sandy Kessler-Kaminski; Eisler Landscapes; and the Student Conservation Association of Pittsburgh.

More Information

For more information, contact Sarah Siplak at 412.567.4386 or

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April 26, 2019

Harnessing the ‘Power of Play’ to Build Equitable Cities

When planners and community stakeholders are hashing out asset inventories and needs assessments to figure out the state of neighborhood amenities, a few things are sure to almost always make the list: more access to green space, safer crosswalks, more parking in business districts, gateways, and wayfinding signage. When planners design communities to be safer, healthier, more sustainable, and more walkable, how often do those efforts make a community more playful?

The Power of Play

Play is powerful. In the sphere of early childhood education, experts recognize the unparalleled importance of play in learning and development. In business, play is seen as a gateway to greater creativity, collaboration, and breakthrough innovation. In society, communities that play together stay together.

Isn’t it time we embraced playfulness as a quality worth designing into our urban spaces? Perhaps the trouble is that the word itself seems just too playful to be taken seriously. We need more words for play.

More Words for Play

The Finnish language has no shortage of words for play. For Finns, playing a game is different from playing a sport, which is different from playing music. There are distinct Finnish words for children’s play and the play that adults engage in. There’s even a Finnish word that means both “work” and “play.” This rich vocabulary shows that in Finland, play is a valued part of life that isn’t confined just to kids’ stuff.


Where else would we see play show up in our plans, if only we had the words for it?


What would we call the kind of play that brings strangers together?


What would we call playing around with ideas and possibilities?


It’s questions like these that motivated a coalition of public and private sector partners to start the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative and organize a citywide movement to expand the presence of play in every community. As a mid-size, post-industrial city in the midst of dramatic changes spurred in large part by new development, we see a mandate to build greater public demand for play as an integral part of the city’s future.

Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative

Locally in southwestern Pennsylvania, the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative is working to make play a part of the urban infrastructure.

Since 2013, members of the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative have been working together to find and remove the barriers holding communities back from experiencing the social benefits of play. These efforts have brought together leaders and representatives from the city’s parks and museums, human services and municipal agencies, arts and sustainability nonprofits, and community development groups. Along the way, we’ve encountered distinct manifestations of play that we really wish had their own name.

Learn more about the work of The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative and read the full article from the urban planning magazine Planetizen.

(shared via Planetizen)


November 20, 2018

KaBOOM! Announces Let’s Play Everywhere Challenge Winners

KaBOOM! recently announced the winners of the Let’s Play Everywhere Challenge. As part of the Challenge, 10 grantees in Allegheny County were selected to receive a combined total of $200,000 in prize funds. Trying Together is pleased to announce that the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative was awarded one of these grants for The Neighborhood Play Stop Project. Learn more about it and the other grantees below.


Challenge Winners

The Let’s Play Everywhere Challenge selected nine organizations as winners, with a total of ten ideas:

  1. Trying Together (Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative)
    • The Neighborhood Play Stop Project
  2. Glassport Community Outreach, Inc.
    • Families Will Go Gaga to Play GaGa
  3. Pittsburgh Fulton PTO
    • From Pittsburgh to Paris and Beyond!
  4. Garfield Jubilee Association, Inc.
    • James Sensory Park
  5. Grounded Strategies
    • MACS Discovery Walk
    • Race Me! Pitcairn Green Playce
  6. Community Forge
    • Number Mountain
  7. Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
    • Ping Pong in the Plaza
  8. UniversalWit
    • Play! to End Blight
  9. Focus on Renewal
    • POW! (Place of Wonder)

The Neighborhood Play Stop Project

The Neighborhood Play Stop Project will reimagine existing spaces within Hazelwood by using play stops to encourage community engagement and playful interaction. These play stops may be featured in public spaces near businesses and civic locations such as grocery stores, green spaces,  fire stations, and more. Conversations are underway to identify the finalized play stop locations.


By placing play stops in spaces that are not typically associated with play, this project will prompt community members of all ages to rethink their daily routines. For children, it’s an opportunity for imaginative play. For adults, it may be a space where they can take a mental break and play chess or engage in a calming playful activity. Similar to the Little Free Library movement, these play stops will be stewarded by various entities (the businesses where they are located, Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative member organizations, interested community members, etc.).

A Closer Look

Each stop will be based upon the common concept of play and will have playful interactive parts that relate to the location and the party stewarding the installation. For example, a stop outside a grocery store may include play items such as plastic fruits and vegetables to “purchase,” paper and pencils to create grocery lists, and laminated sheets of information about grocery store products.  However, if a stop is located outside of a fire department, their play items may include play items such as firefighter helmets, a mini fire drill tower, and fire safety facts.

Each stop will include a chalkboard with permanently affixed prompts for participants to write their thoughts. Prompts may include statement starters such as “When I play outside I like to…” or “At the grocery store I can find these colors…”

About the Challenge

The Let’s Play Everywhere Challenge is a design competition that took place in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania—presented by Keurig Dr. Pepper and KaBOOM!—to develop innovative ideas for making play easy and available for kids and families. This challenge is about creating opportunities for free, unstructured, unplanned play to ensure that all kids, no matter where they come from or where they live, get the active play they need to thrive.

Learn More

To learn more about the challenge winners and their ideas, read KaBOOM’s post.