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There are so many nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs with great ideas. The difficult part seems to be scaling and expanding these great ideas. Jill Vialet, founder of Playworks, and her colleague Marjorie Nightingale, Director of Playworks Philadelphia, write about their experience scaling Playworks nationally, setting up shop in Philadelphia, and growing their network of supporters, including funders, schools, volunteers, and parents.


Ask any parent or teacher and they will tell you: the way children feel at school, the way they are treated by both adults and peers, and the degree to which they are accepted have a combined, direct and measurable impact on achievement. America’s children deserve public schools where they feel inspired, safe, and cared for—a reasonable expectation by any account. Yet many schools have lost the ability to create such environments for their students.

Thankfully, the national conversation about how to improve America’s public schools is broadening beyond test scores and teacher accountability to consider the role that school climate plays in children’s ability to learn in school. Philadelphia children deserve this kind of broad attention to their education. And that is why Playworks came to Philadelphia in 2010.