Project Play explores breakthrough ideas at three types of events: Town halls/summits for large gatherings, all-day deep dive roundtables with 25+ thought leaders, and "Aspen Timeout" panels held at major conferences of stakeholder organizations

In partnership with Aspen Institute Mexico, Nike, and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Project Play hosted its debut international roundtable in Mexico City.

Bringing together 50+ leaders from business, government, and NGOs, at the intersection of youth, sport, and health, Project Play explored the opportunity to launch a symbiotic effort in Mexico.

For more information in English, email Risa Isard ( For more information in Spanish, email Mariana Solano (


En conjunto con el Aspen Institute México, Nike, y Laureus, Project Play tuvo su debut internacional en la Ciudad de México con una mesa redonda.

Reuniendo alrededor de 50 líderes de diferentes empresas, funcionarios de gobierno y ONGs, Project Play exploró la oportunidad de lanzar un esfuerzo simbiótico en México.

Para más información en inglés, puedes escribir al siguiente correo: Risa Isard (

Para más información en español, puedes escribir al siguiente correo: Jan Cristobal (

January 27, 2017
8:30 am to 12:30 pm
Mexico City,


March 12, 2017
Austin, TX
Four Seasons Hotel

Knowledge about the best practices in raising young athletes is constantly evolving. At this SXSW panel, Sports & Society Executive Director Tom Farrey joins Matt Bowers, Clinical Assistant Professor of Sport Management, University of Texas at Austin; Christine Bolger, Associate Director of Coaching Education, United States Olympic Committee; and Emmanuel Acho, NFL Linebacker/Media Personality to share the latest advancements in the science and policies in youth sports. The goal: to help parents (and those interested in youth sports) navigate the maze of new information on raising good athletes...and good kids. 

January 31, 2017

The mission of the Aspen Institute is to foster values-based leadership and explore big ideas that serve the common good. So what does values-based leadership mean to NBA commissioner Adam Silver? And what ideas has he developed in his first two years as the head of organization that has engaged on social issues, while developing new partnerships with media companies and players?

Tom Farrey, executive director for the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program and an Emmy award-winning journalist, explores that terrain in conversation with Silver, ranked the most influential executive in sports by the SportsBusiness Journal. The discussion is open to members of the Aspen Institute’s Society of Fellows group, on a first-come basis (capacity has been reached).

More event information is here.

January 27, 2017
Mexico City,

In partnership with Aspen Institute Mexico, Nike, and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Project Play hosted its debut international roundtable in Mexico City.

Bringing together 50+ leaders from business, government, and NGOs, at the intersection of youth, sport, and health, Project Play explored the opportunity to launch a symbiotic effort in Mexico.

For more information in English, email Risa Isard ( For more information in Spanish, email Mariana Solano (


En conjunto con el Aspen Institute México, Nike, y Laureus, Project Play tuvo su debut internacional en la Ciudad de México con una mesa redonda.

Reuniendo alrededor de 50 líderes de diferentes empresas, funcionarios de gobierno y ONGs, Project Play exploró la oportunidad de lanzar un esfuerzo simbiótico en México.

Para más información en inglés, puedes escribir al siguiente correo: Risa Isard (

Para más información en español, puedes escribir al siguiente correo: Jan Cristobal (

December 6, 2016
New Orleans, LA
Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market

What if non-profits, government, schools, philanthropy, business, pro sports governing bodies and leagues, and the media worked together to apply the best strategies for changing the city through sport + physical activity? 

What if these strategies addressed key elements of increasing levels of sport & physical activity while also achieving important social development outcomes? 

What if the best learnings from collective impact and the global sport for development movement were leveraged to ensure change that is comprehensive and lasting, resulting in improved health, better education, more equitable employment and economic opportunity, and more prosperous and integrated communities?

The New Orleans Sport for Community Coalition, alongside Laureus Sport for Good USA and The Aspen Institute, hosted a community summit to discuss the work currently happening in New Orleans to move these questions from hypotheticals to reality. 

Over the course of the summit, participants addressed the targeted use of sports-based youth development in New Orleans, learned from collective impact experts about how to move the work forward, and charted concrete actions for how supporters from diverse sectors can work together to improve the lives of children and youth through the transformative power of sport.  

Featured speakers included ESPN's Michael Smith and the Aspen Institute's President and CEO Walter Isaacson, Sports & Society executive director Tom Farrey, and program associate Risa Isard.

Email Risa Isard with any questions (

November 22, 2016
Baltimore, MD


Baltimore has a rich history of developing its children and communities through sport participation, from the early days of Babe Ruth to the proliferation of recreation centers that anchored communities throughout the city. Now, working with key local stakeholders, we aim to write the next great chapter, through a unique initiative designed to create new opportunities for youth, ensuring access to and participation in sport.

Project Play: Baltimore is based on a simple idea: That no single organization can do this alone. Only through teamwork can leaders and caregivers expand the quality and quantity of sport experiences for local youth so they may receive all of the associated physical, mental and social-emotional benefits.


To help civic and sport groups mobilize, Under Armour is partnering with the Aspen Institute – a nonprofit and leader in the effort to mobilize communities in cross-sector collaboration and innovation.

In the 2015 report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game, the Aspen Institute offers eight strategies for the eight sectors that touch the lives of children. This playbook will be the basis for which Project Play: Baltimore is constructed.

Project Play: Baltimore is a bold experiment designed to serve and inspire a community while building a roadmap for future implementation in Baltimore and beyond. The newly revitalized community center on Fayette Street will serve as the hub for the initiative.

The project’s initial three-year focus will be on East Baltimore, specifically a two-square mile area that is home to 20 schools and approximately 12,000 children. To drive the effort, Under Armour and the Aspen Institute will:

  • Convene top national experts on how to build healthy kids and communities through sport
  • Host local stakeholders, identify needs, discover resources, and set shared goals
  • Initiate relationships with regional and national organizations to assist in the effort
  • Recruit a project manager dedicated to engaging participating groups and driving Collective Impact
  • Document and share findings with the goal of driving results across the city and country


Project Contact: Andre Fountain, Project Coordinator,

October 22, 2016
San Francisco, CA

As part of the roundtable discussion on Promoting Physical Literacy in American Youth at the 2016 annual conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Sports & Society Executive Director Tom Farrey will address a group of medical leaders on the topic of "Media & Technology: Using it to Promote Physical Literacy." The full agenda for the morning is below.

8:00-8:45 AM          Media & Technology: Using it to Promote Physical Literacy 
8:45-9:20 AM         Health Care Providers: Tools to Assess Physical Literacy  
9:20-9:55 AM         Leading the Way: Physical Literacy Programs at Work in Communities
9:55-10:30 AM       Fostering the Youth Sport Ethos in Organized Sports 
10:30-11:00 AM     Roundtable Discussion 
October 5, 2016
Washington, DC
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

The Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program, American College of Sports Medicine, the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins, and Laureus Foundation USA hosted the Innovation Summit: Moving American Health Across the Spectrum of Physical Activity. This invitation-only conference convened leaders from sport, physical activity, health, science, and technology across the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. An academic journal article identifying next steps in elevating the most promising initiatives and developments in the space is forthcoming.

The day included speaker presentations, ideation workgroups, and a fireside chat with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy. Other featured speakers included Sports & Society Program executive director Tom Farrey and program associate Risa Isard, Justin Kaufenberg of SportsEngine, Dr. Brian Hainline of the NCAA, Woody Scal of Fitbit, Tom Cove of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, and Edwin Moses, Missy Franklin, Bob Lujano and Benita Fitzgerald Mosley of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.

WATCH: A Fireside Chat with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

More video is available here. Revisit the conversation via hashtag #SportHealthInnovate.

Additional information is available in the program.

9am: To Optimally Use and Build on the Compelling Science*

•    Bruce Lee: A Systems Approach to Improving Physical Activity and Health
•    Risa Isard: Building Sport for All, Play for Life Communities
•    Russ Pate: Putting the New in the New U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines 
•    Loretta Di Pietro: Building on the Progress Report from The Lancet
•    Jim Whitehead, moderator

10am: To Design the Next Phase of the Walking Movement

•    Janet Fulton: Measuring the Remarkable: Progress Since the Call to Action 
•    Jack Groppel: Snapshot of Sector Commitments and Advances 
•    Shavon Arline-Bradley: Continuing the Legacy of the Surgeon General's Call to Action
•    Kathy Smith: A Collective Voice for Walking: The Every Body Walk Collaborative 
•    David Sabgir: Walking Toward Innovation 
•    Tim Moran, moderator

11:30am: To Find Inspiration in Group Innovation*

•    Benita Fitzgerald-Mosley: Introduction
•    Bob Lujano: Inspiring Inclusion through the Paralympic Movement

12:45pm: To Score with Sports for American Society: A Strategic Panel Discussion

•    Alison Field: Health Benefits of Playing Sports and Being Active
•    Brian Hainline: Game Planning Sports for Health
•    Edwin Moses and Missy Franklin: Providing the Athlete's View 
•    Colleen Doyle, Improving Equity Related to Physical Activity
•    Melicia Whitt-Glover: Bringing Health and Equity into Sports
•    Walt Thompson, moderator

2:00pm: To Amplify the Role of Industry and Technology for Scale: Compelling Ideas and Proposals*

•    Justin Kaufenberg: DrivingSports Participation, Don't Quit Your Day Job 
•    Woody Scal: Empowering Behavior Change Through Technology
•    Tom Cove: Engaging and Collaborating with the Power of Industry
•    Tom Farrey, moderator

3:30pm: Fireside Chat: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, moderated by Woody Scal*

Contact Risa Isard with questions:

September 8, 2016
Washington, DC
Aspen Institute

As president of the NCAA, Mark Emmert leads one of the most influential and far-reaching organizations in all of sports. Nearly 1,100 universities and colleges with more than 19,000 teams and 480,000 athletes in three divisions are members of the NCAA, whose policies and practices impact the lives of people – and not just fans – in every community in United States.

Today, more than $2.7 billion in athletic scholarship aid is distributed annually, up from $250 million in the early 1990s. The opportunity to play, and receive the benefits of participation in, college sports has reshaped the landscape of youth and high school sports over the past generation. Under Emmert since 2010, the NCAA has made health and wellness of young athletes at all levels a stated priority, along with the opportunity to receive a quality education. 

Sports & Society Program executive director Tom Farrey engaged Emmert in conversation about the role of the NCAA in building productive citizens and communities. How can it best promote mental and physical health from the college level down to the youth leagues? How can it provide athletic and educational opportunities for students from all communities, regardless of zip code? How much influence can it have at a time when the organization is being tested in the courts on a variety of issues, including athlete welfare?

The wide-ranging conversation with Emmert was followed by audience Q&A. 


News Coverage
"NCAA prez concerned by Texas swimming paid $740K for winning Olympic gold," by Jon Solomon, CBS Sports
"Mark Emmert says NCAA might rethink Olympic payouts to student-athletes," by Steve Berkowitz, USA Today
"Leave it be NCAA; let collegiate Olympians keep the cash," by Nicole Auerbach, USA Today
"Katie Ledecky earned $355,000 in medal bonuses from Rio Olympics performance," by Christine Brennan and Steve Berkowitz, USA Today

Event Photos on Flickr

About Mark Emmert
Mark Emmert became the fifth president of the NCAA in 2010. Before then, Emmert was president of his alma mater, the University of Washington, beginning in 2004. He also served as chancellor of Louisiana State University (1999-2004), provost and chancellor of the University of Connecticut (1995-1999), provost and vice president for academic affairs at Montana State University-Bozeman (1992-1995) and associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Colorado, Boulder (1985-1992). Emmert graduated from Washington with a degree in political science and has both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in public administration from Syracuse University. Emmert and his wife DeLaine have two adult children and three grandchildren.


August 25, 2016
Dallas, TX

Sports & Society executive director Tom Farrey will address more than 400 representatives from National Governing Bodies, sports commissions, and visitors bureaus at the 9th Annual Olympic SportsLink, an event designed to provide unique opportunities to create strategic partnerships between NGBs and cities, sports commissions, convention centers and visitors bureaus interested in Olympic/Paralympic sport and hosting U.S. Olympic Team Trials and championship events. Cities attending will gain a better understanding of the impact on host communities. SportsLink also focuses on sharing best practices in the sports event industry, including in youth sports.

May 17, 2016
Washington, DC

In the year since the release of the seminal Aspen Institute report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game, many organizations have taken action consistent with its eight strategies for the eight sectors that touch the lives of children. At the 2016 Project Play Summit at the Newseum, 450 leaders gathered to measure progress, share learnings and discover new opportunities to build healthy communities through sport.

The featured session was with first lady Michelle Obama, her brother Craig Robinson and his ESPN colleague, moderator Michael Wilbon, co-host of Pardon the Interruption. Three kids from South Side Chicago, all grown up, reflected on their childhood, sports parenting, and the importance of making sport affordable and accessible for all youth. Obama called on stakeholders to provide quality opportunities for every child, regardless of zip code or ability. (Video, excerpts and transcript below)

"This has to become a priority in our society," Obama said. "This affects all of us. Play and nutrition and overall investment in our kids — whether they can read and think and engage — it's just not enough for us to be okay with so many kids not having that at an excellent level. So whatever the dollar figure is, as a society, as taxpayers and as corporate America — we should figure out how much that costs, and then pay for it. Period."

Obama was joined by more than 60 other speakers at the sold-out summit, the nation's premier gathering of leaders at the intersection of sport, youth and health. Among them: Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics International; Tab Ramos, Youth Technical Director, US Soccer Federation; Jim Whitehead, CEO, American College of Sports Medicine; Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, CEO, Laureus Foundation USA; Dr. Bennet Omalu, Chief Medical Examiner, San Joaquin County (Calif.); Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and Billie Jean King, civil rights pioneer. 

Several sessions were live-streamed, drawing more than 100,000 Facebook Live viewers, with the hashtag #ProjectPlay trending nationally on Twitter. 


Opening comments
Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute
Lt. Gen. (ret.) Mark Hertling, member of President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

State of Play: 2016
Tom Farrey, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

Ask Kids What They Want
What does the new research tell us?
Moderator: Jeremy Goldberg, President, LeagueApps
Tom Cove, President and CEO, Sports & Fitness Industry Association
Holly O'Donnell, National Executive Director, America SCORES
Tom Paskus, Principal Research Scientist, NCAA
Edwin Roman, Senior Director of Consumer Insights, ESPN
Carlo Carino, Participant, The First Tee – New Orleans

Reintroduce Free Play
Can large orgs drive de-organization?
Moderator: Jon Frankel, Correspondent, HBO Real Sports 
Neeru Jayanthi, Director of Tennis Medicine, Emory University
Chris Marinak, SVP, League Economics & Strategy, MLB
Jason Collins, former NBA player
Jeremy Silberglied, Participant, Sports Plus

Encourage Sport Sampling
How can PE, clubs collaborate?
Moderator: Bill King, Senior Writer, Sports Business Journal
Brendan Ledwith, Coordinator, Sport Development, USA Volleyball
Sarah Lee, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion
Ken Martel, Technical Director, USA Hockey
Paul Roetert, CEO, SHAPE America

Revitalize In-Town Leagues
Who will be their champion?
Moderator: Dan Shanoff, Content & Programming, Monumental Sports Network
Ryan Eckel, Vice President of Brand, Dick's Sporting Goods
Noah Blue Elk Hotchkiss, Founder, Tribal Adaptive Organization
Rebecca Kodysh, Executive Director of Community Impact, Cleveland Indians
Max Levitt, Founder & Executive Director, Leveling the Playing Field

Building a Social Movement for Access to Sport
Billie Jean King, tennis and civil rights champion, and Risa Isard, program associate, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

First Lady Michelle Obama, with brother and ESPN analyst Craig Robinson, moderated by ESPN show host Michael Wilbon
WATCH below, with excerpts of Obama's comments in The Aspen Journal of Ideas here and graphical quotes here

Think Small
Can we systematize creativity in play spaces?
Moderator: Kevin Martinez, VP, Corporate Citizenship, ESPN
Corliss Allen Solomon, Doctoral Student, University of North Carolina at Charlotte 
Chip Patterson, Executive Director, The First Tee of Greater New Orleans
James Siegal, CEO, KaBOOM!
Erin Smith, Director of Education and Training, US Lacrosse

Train All Coaches
How to engage the hardest-to-reach?
Moderator: Mike Fletcher, Senior Writer, The Undefeated, ESPN
Jon Feinman, Founder, InnerCity Weightlifting
Leah Friedman, Junior Development Coordinator, USTA Chicago 
Tony Korson, CEO, Koa Sports
Richard Pavlick, Co-Founder, Project Leader & Coach, YLC Kicks
Daleajah Williams, Playworks Junior Coach

Design for Development
Where to next with the American Development Model?
Moderator: Caitlin Morris, Sr. Dir. for North America, Global Community Impact, Nike
Christine Bolger, Coaching Education, United States Olympic Committee
Jeremy Campbell, Former professional wheelchair basketball player
Michael Clayton, Nat'l Coaches Education Program, USA Wrestling
Tab Ramos, Youth Technical Director and U-20 Men's Head Coach, U.S. Soccer

Emphasize Prevention
Brain Injuries: How much science do we need to act?
Moderator: Mark Hyman, Professor, George Washington University
Kevin Bieniek, Research Fellow, Mayo Clinic
Kate Carr, President and CEO, Safe Kids Worldwide
Dr. Sam Gandy, Prof. of Neurology and Psychiatry, Mount Sinai
Dr. Gerard Gioia, Division Chief, Neuropsychology, Children's National Health System
Dr. Bennet Omalu, Chief Medical Examiner, San Joaquin County (Calif.) and Professor, University of California-Davis

Physical Literacy
How to implement the concept?
Moderator: Cedric Bryant, Chief Science Officer, American Council on Exercise
Dean Kriellaars, Associate Professor, University of Manitoba
Mike Sagas, Department Chair and Professor, University of Florida
Kathleen Tullie, Founder, BOKS

Model Communities
What works in building local coalitions?
Moderator: Steve Patrick, Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions
Renata Simril, President, LA84 Foundation
Jamie Schmill, New Orleans Program Officer, Laureus USA
Sara Couppas, Sports and Nutrition, Clinton Foundation>
Bruce Lee, Director, Global Obesity Prevention Center, Johns Hopkins University
Laurence Chalip, Professor, University of Illinois

Call for Leadership
Treetops to grassroots: How to scale a culture of health in sports?
Moderator: Tom Farrey, Aspen Inst. Sports & Society Program
Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics International
Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, CEO, Laureus USA
Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Jorge Perez, SVP, Programs and the Y Experience, YMCA of the USA
Jim Whitehead, CEO, American College of Sports Medicine

"What's Your Play?" announcements
Among the 11 commitments to action (see all on the Project Play report website):

  • Under Armour: Committed to lifting youth sport participation rates in East Baltimore through its Project Heartbeat initiative, with the support of the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program
  • YMCA of USA: Committed to adopting Project Play's Sport for All, Play for Life model and its 8 Plays in a "comprehensive, major upgrade of our youth sports approach and programs," to be scaled through the nation's 2,700 Y's over the next two to three years

Leaders from each of the following sectors attended the 2016 Project Play Summit: National Sport Organizations, Community Recreation Groups, Public Health, Business & Industry, Tech & Media, Policymakers & Civic Leaders; Education; and Parents. Insights shared during the event informed the conclusions of State of Play: 2016 report, a draft of which was released at the summit. The final version was released one month later and identified key developments of the past year in each of the eight strategy areas that create the framework for action in the Sport for All, Play for Life report, along with the latest sport participation rates for children and other original data.

April 8, 2016
Denver, CO
University of Denver
Like other states, Colorado faces challenges in dealing with a crisis of physical inactivity, parental concerns about injuries, and declining participation in youth sports. How can leaders work together to make sport more affordable, accessible and developmentally appropriate for all children?
Please join us on April 8 at the University of Denver for the first-ever Colorado Youth Sports Summit, where we will review and recognize sport programs and activities that contribute positively to the overall development of children.
The summit builds on the work of the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, a multi-stage initiative to provide stakeholders with the tools to build healthier communities through sports. Led by executive director Tom Farrey, Project Play has used research and input from experts, including several from Colorado, to provide guidance for those of us working in youth sports.
The goal of this summit is to reaffirm Colorado as a leader in the provision of youth sport programs that teach physical literacy and prepare young people for a lifetime of healthy physical activity. Only by working together at the state and local levels can we overcome the challenges that we face.
Come learn more about Project Play and share your ideas for how youth sports can help our children achieve physical literacy and meet their developmental needs.
Program Highlights:
  • Kick off with Tom Farrey, author of Game On: The All American Race to Make Champions of Our Children, award winning journalist, and director of Project Play
  • A presentation on the importance of Physical Literacy by Robin Schepper, Director, Bipartisan Policy Center, Washington, DC
  • Panel of leaders from USOC, national governing bodies and other organizations that have already reimagined youth sports in their developmental programs
  • A presentation on injuries in youth sport by Dr.Shale Wong, Pediatrics, CU School of Medicine
  • Breakout sessions on using The Playbook to promote physical literacy and overall childhood development
  • A presentation on  integrating physical literacy into youth sport practices
  • General summary of best practices and a CALL TO ACTION for improving youth sports

More information is available on the event website here