Shift Behavior & Accelerate Learning - PacificNW

by Playworks

Playworks is proud to be recognized for the fifth consecutive year as one of the 2016 Top-Rated Nonprofits by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about nonprofits.

The people’s choice award among do-gooders, GreatNonprofits Top-Rated Awards empower volunteers, donors, and peopled served by nonprofits to share their stories and express their gratitude. GreatNonprofits compiles these reviews and gives out annual awards to nonprofits who have significantly inspired and impacted their communities. 

At Playworks, we value this dialogue and celebrate the stories of partners and supporters who are joining the play movement, as one partner shared:

The first year we had Playworks at our school . . . we didn’t have our playground installed. Playworks was all we had for recess time. What I witnessed were kids being active, having fun and including others. . . I have seen the benefits of how PLAY does WORK when kids are taught problem solving skills and how to all play together.”

“We are honored to continue to be a part of this diverse community of top-rated organizations,” said Playworks Founder and CEO Jill Vialet. “As we continue to grow to fulfill our 2020 AIM, it is incredibly inspiring to see people sharing stories on GreatNonprofits of how our work touches the lives of our partners and supporters.”

We are humbled by this award and thank everyone whose support made this recognition possible. Award is Based on Positive Online Reviews.

Read our reviews and contribute your story!

Junior Coach Leadership Program 2015-2016 Report-Pacific Northwest

The Junior Coach Leadership Program promotes leadership development by teaching students to model positive encouragement, work together as a team to lead games, and apply conflict resolution strategies on the playground and in the classroom.

  • Average # Hours Junior Coaches Spent in Training 57%
  • Average Attendance Rate 89%
  • Average # of Junior Coaches per school 14

Junior Coach Skill Development

Teachers who have Junior Coaches in their classroom and Playworks Program Coordinators assess the skills of individual Junior Coaches at entry and exit of the program. Teachers and Program Coordinators saw improvements in their Junior Coaches in the following areas:

Teachers: In the Classroom Report              Program Coordinators: On the Playground

                        97%                        Leadership                                   84%

                        83%                       Teamwork                                     87%

                        87%                   Resolving Conflict                             87%


"Playworks has a huge impact on our school culture and environment! The Junior Coach program has been a great way for my students to see other students as role models and aspire to become them one day. I think it has also encouraged physical activity, fun and teamwork across all grade-levels."K-2 Teacher

This year we have expanded the number of schools and students that we serve in the greater Portland Metro area to 36 schools and more than 16,500 students! We couldn't have grown without your continued support of our programming. Thank you!



*Skill Development Data represents all Junior Coaches in our Coach schools meeting the minimum dosage requirements (20 training hours and 90 days) with a complete baseline and end point assessment.

Jacob likes to play, and he likes to win. In elementary school, he recalls, “We would spend a lot of time playing soccer, and I always wanted to win. I was really competitive.”

“I always thought the Junior Coaches were really cool, because they were always the people organizing sports and games at lunch,” says Jacob. When he became a Playworks Junior Coach, it was a big win.

But being a Junior Coach was difficult. Sometimes people wouldn’t listen to Jacob because they were the same age. They didn’t always pay attention when he tried to explain the rules.

“I would always get mad when someone didn’t follow the rules of the sport. I noticed that even if the main goal of games was having fun, I always wanted to win.” Jacob remembers.

To support other students, Jacob had to learn to let go. “Junior Coaching taught me that it’s not all about winning; it’s about having fun. I liked being able to organize the activities and help kids learn new sports and games that maybe they’d never played before.”

In many Playworks games there are no winners and losers, and if people get out, it is easy to get back in the game. This way, kids can keep playing all recess long. Jacob learned to appreciate playing for the sake of playing:

“My favorite game was a game called Infected, like tag, but where everyone who got tagged could start tagging people. We played in large groups that got together on the field as soon as recess started, so we could play and run for a really long time.”

Now, Jacob is in high school. He is still ambitious and he still likes to win, but his love of play for the sake of play makes him a stronger leader. As a ski coach, his Junior Coach experience pays off.

“I understand now how to work with the little kids,” he says. “Because I was a Junior Coach, I know how to be patient.”

Throughout the year, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of Playworks and with it, 20 years of bringing healthy, safe, and inclusive play to hundreds of thousands of children across the country.

Spanning 20 playful years, Playworks has grown to become the nonprofit leader using the power of play to transform children’s social, emotional, and physical health. In 1996,Playworks Founder and CEO Jill Vialet launched Sports4Kids, now called Playworks, in two Berkeley, CA elementary schools after she met with a school principal who asked for help in reducing the chaos and conflict in the schoolyard during recess.

With a multi-million dollar investment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that spanned a decade, as well as a partnership with AmeriCorps, support from our national corporate partners, and donations from thousands of individuals, Playworks has since grown to serve 750,000 children annually in 1,300 elementary schools in nearly every state.

Additionally, many of our Playworks regions are celebrating anniversaries of their own. Playworks Massachusetts is celebrating ten years in the Boston metropolitan area. Playworks Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Utah are celebrating five years in their communities.

There is one thing we know for certain after 20 years on school playgrounds in communities all across the country: play works for every kid. And we don’t plan to stop any time soon. Now more than ever, every kid deserves the chance to play.

Stay tuned—throughout 2016, we’ll be inviting you to help amplify play for every kid across America.

Thank you for 20 years of supporting the life-changing power of play!


Junior Coach Essence, Timber Joey, and Coach Molly
Junior Coach Essence, Timber Joey, and Coach Molly
Before I came to Vestal School I didn’t know that much about games or how to play any sports. I also did not know what being a leader was. I kind of just did what my friends did.  When I met Coach Molly, she talked to us about the Junior Coach Leadership Program. I am a Junior Coach and I have a lot of responsibility, but I really love it. I’m thinking about playing volleyball too. When I started school last year it was like a new life. I met new friends and I learned more about sports and games almost every day. Playworks has taught me a lot about hard work. Now, when I go outside I know how to play different games. I see kids getting other kids to play new games and everyone is happy and playing. And that makes me happy. One thing that I learned since becoming a Junior Coach is the meaning of responsibility and  how to be a leader. 
Playworks is important to Vestal because it helps kids understand the meaning of fairness and the rules at school. Before Playworks at Vestal, recess was not much fun. Kids didn’t play very many games, they were mean to each other, and sometimes they even had fights. Now, recess is more fun and people play games instead of fighting or sitting around. Junior Coaches help recess by inviting kids to play, starting cheers, and giving lots of high fives to everyone. 
Since becoming a Junior Coach, I have changed by knowing how to deal with more responsibility. Helping with the younger kids, like kindergarten, is really tough sometimes, but I know that if I can get them to play with me we will all have a good time at recess. Now I am more sports oriented and my class work has improved. I am a leader in class and help my friends with their homework. I am someone that people can rely on. One time, I helped a little girl who was being bullied and crying. I talked to her and handled it by inviting her to play. The other kids never did it again. 

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Organization Information


Location: Oakland, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Playworks Education Energized
Portland, OR United States
$15,760 raised of $30,000 goal
63 donations
$14,240 to go
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