Outdoor Play Interventions Program (OPIP)


August Update on the OPIP – Design and Redesign

We are excited to share an update on the Outdoor Play Interventions Project (OPIP), our strategy to aid in the development of low-cost, high-value, simple design interventions for outdoor spaces utilizing architectural design, LISC technical assistance, fundraising, and volunteer coordination.

 

A successful intervention project takes both a skilled designer and a motivated owner to develop a clear vision for the space. Our designers, Tupelo Gardenworks and studioMLA, have been working hard measuring sites, watching how children move in their space, developing concept drawings, and implementing owner feedback into final designs.

Two of our sites, The Genesis Center in Providence, and the Y’s Owl Nursery School – Kent County YMCA in Warwick, have been selected to participate in the Blue Across Rhode Island initiative, a program of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, which provides more than 70 volunteers for a day of service on September 21, 2018. Visit www.bcbsri.com or search #BlueAcrossRI on social media to learn more about this amazing event that will take place at multiple locations across the state. You can follow our Blue Across Rhode Island journey on our Facebook page here!

Related News

Five child care programs have been selected through a competitive request for proposals to participate in our second year of Outdoor Play Interventions, a program focusing on increasing play value with small investments, volunteers, and thoughtful design. Site visits are currently underway with the design team and ideas are starting to flow. We are excited to introduce the following participants at their “before” stage and hope you continue to follow the project throughout the year:

Connecting for Children and Families (CCF) – Bulldog Park
Utilized by their school age program, this Woonsocket based center will look to add loose parts and much needed storage to a completely open and empty community space, which once housed a traditional playground structure.
Over the Rainbow Learning Center – Johnston
This center, located in Johnston, has already gone through an intensive playground planning period, and even made major modifications to the preschool playground. Having just stopped short of implementing the design plan on the infant and toddler side, they are hoping to add some high-quality components dedicated to art, sand and water play.
The Genesis Center
With the desire to remove outdated play structures and rectify hazards, this Providence-based center is looking to include more nature-based activities and loose parts, and also utilize the existing chain link fence as a base for art easels and other play activities.
Y’s Owl Nursery School – Kent County YMCA
This Warwick center is hoping to utilize its amazing surroundings to inspire a more natural play space. Removal of plastic components and inclusion of a mud kitchen, outdoor classroom, and space for quiet play will incorporate all the benefits of this grand outdoor space.
Federal Hill House
Located right in the heart of Providence, this center is looking to add more privacy, natural elements, and create an engaging outdoor classroom through many opportunities for stimulating and dynamic play. 

While these sites are very unique they share equally in their desire and potential to offer more valuable play opportunities for Rhode Island’s children. We appreciate their enthusiastic commitment and we hope as this project continues you are also inspired to make some quality changes to your space!

Request for Proposals:
2018 Outdoor Play Interventions
Background

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is the nation’s leading community development organization and specializes in building partnerships among the corporate, philanthropic, and public sectors to support grassroots community revitalization. Created in 1980, LISC has offices in 30 cities and numerous rural locations nationwide. The Rhode Island office opened in 1991. LISC’s national child care program, the Community Investment Collaborative for Kids (CICK), was created in 1995 to improve the quality and expand the supply of child care in low-income communities through new investments in physical facilities.

Recognizing that child care providers need additional support to address facilities issues, LISC in collaboration with a coalition of public and private funding partners, formed the Rhode Island Child Care and Early Learning Facilities Fund (RICCELFF) in 2001. RICCELFF makes low-cost loans, awards grants, and delivers training and technical expertise. The technical assistance includes site analysis for new facilities, project planning, and design and implementation advice for rehabilitation or construction designed to improve health, safety, accessibility, energy efficiency, and quality conditions in child care facilities. LISC also provides technical assistance on the financing of these facility improvements and can help to structure fundraising campaigns, debt financing, and equity investments to implement design plans. Since inception in 2001, the RICCELFF has invested more than $20 million in child care facilities across Rhode Island. Technical support has been offered to more than 200 organizations and hundreds of early childhood professionals have participated in RICCELFF training programs.

 

Adding More Value to Outdoor Play

The benefits of a well-designed outdoor play space are endless. For children participating in child care programs the time spent outdoors while at those programs may constitute the majority of their outdoor time each week. Thus, child care facilities play a critical role in offering play environments that support children’s learning, promote active play, and provide exposure to an array of natural elements.

Research has shown that even small interventions that add natural elements, sensory variety, and open ended play to children’s environments can have an important impact on child development.  At this time the RICCELFF is seeking a small group of three to four licensed child care centers from across Rhode Island to participate in the second year of the Outdoor Play Intervention Program (OPIP) to help develop, design, and implement small scale play components that increase the value of outdoor play. These components – or “interventions” – could include the addition of unique sand and water play, art elements, loose parts play, natural elements, or simple cosmetic changes to the space. The program will also focus on strategic space planning to promote increased and enhanced interaction between children, children and their teachers, and children and their physical environment. As a participant in this program you will receive, at no cost to your center, a conceptual design plan and up to $5,000 to implement these small scale strategies on your play space. As part of this project you will receive:

  • A site visit and brainstorming meeting with the center director and other key staff for input on needs and concerns for outdoor space.
  • Photographic documentation, rough field measurements, and a sketch of the play space’s existing conditions.
  • A conceptual plan of the play space to include the proposed design “interventions” by one of the RICCELFF’s consulting designers.
  • A private grant in the range of $1,000 to $5,000 to help build out proposed “interventions”.
  • On-going on-site technical assistance to develop a plan and process for completing interventions, including potential volunteer “days of service” and/or assistance in coordinating volunteer “days of service”.
  • Assistance in developing a fundraising plan for any financial needs that exceed the grant award.
  • Public recognition of your participation in the project to other funders and state leaders.
This Project is for you if: This Project is NOT for you if:

You don’t mind if your kids get dirty when they play outside

You do not want your kids getting dirty when they play outside

You have teachers willing to take risks and try new things

You are risk averse

You are willing to let visitors tour your center to observe the “interventions”

You do not want people visiting your center

You are interested in the quality of play your children are engaged in, regardless of whether or not it has a direct impact on things such as a BrightStars or ECERS score

Solely interested in increasing your BrightStars rating or ECERS score

Your outdoor play space is currently generally safe

You have major health and safety issues you are working to address in your outdoor play space

You have staff and/or parents who would be able and willing to help build and create things, help fundraise and would get excited about a new adventure

You have limited ability to engage center volunteers

You are willing to reach out to your community to fundraise and solicit volunteers and donations

You have limited ability to engage the community

You are excited at the idea of trying something “outside the box”

Your goal is a very conventional play space with new equipment and lots of poured in place type surfacing

The plans and interventions developed as part of this project will be featured in training sessions as well as publications. Centers selected will be highlighted throughout a variety of media.

ELIGIBILITY

Eligibility is limited to licensed Rhode Island center-based child care programs serving children from birth to school age. Applicants may be either non-profit or for-profit corporations serving at least 30% DHS subsidized children, with greater priority given to programs serving even higher percentages of DHS subsidized children. Applicants must provide a copy of their 501c3 certification, or proof that they are registered to do business in the State of Rhode Island. As part of this application please describe how the business is owned (include the form of business entity -i.e., non-profit/for-profit corporation or partnership). A copy of a Good Standing Certificate from the RI Secretary of State will be required.

If you do not serve at least 30% DHS subsidized children, please provide alternate proof of a charitable purpose.

 

REQUIREMENTS OF GRANTEES

Grantees receiving funds under this project will be asked to agree to the following:

  • Provide copies of any existing site plans (if available) and/or photographs of the existing space
  • Provide images of the proposed space for intervention
  • Make key staff available to meet with RICCELFF project consultants for input into site design
  • Provide a tour of the space post-“intervention”
  • Comply with any relevant project and financial reporting requirements
  • Provide articles of Incorporation or other applicable organization documentation

 

SELECTION PRIORITIES

Priority will be given to proposals that address the following goals:

  • The program can articulate their “outdoor play philosophy” as part of their overall programming and curriculum, including commitment to spending time outdoors with children each day.
  • The organization can demonstrate that it has a history of particularly innovative practices and ideas.
  • The organization can cite compelling ways that they have previously adopted practices that are demonstrated to improve child health and well-being, including how they have communicated with and involved staff and parents in those practices. 
  • The organization has a key staff person who can be the lead on the project, and can describe how this person’s qualifications make them a unique fit for this project.
  • The center can demonstrate a strong commitment to quality (for example through NAEYC Accreditation, RIDE Certification and/or by actively participating in the BrightStars quality rating system.)
  • The organization can cite an example of completing a facility-related project from start to finish.
  • The organization can articulate their previous success with engaging volunteers and/or fundraising for building and site improvements.
  • The program can show a commitment to serving high-needs children, such as children participating in CCAP and other special populations. Include a breakdown of children currently served (use the following chart as a guide):
# of DHS subsidized children # of private pay children # of other children (Head Start/Early Head Start, IEPs.) Total # of children
INFANT
TODDLER
PRESCHOOL
SCHOOL-AGE

If the total percentage of DHS subsidized children is less than 30%, please provide an explanation of why you believe your center is serving a high-needs population.

 

APPLICATION PROCESS

Provide a written narrative briefly addressing the competition priorities listed above. In particular, please provide responses to the following questions:

  1. What is the name of your center?
  2. What is the address of your center?
  3. Are you a for-profit or non-profit program? If for-profit please describe how you are incorporated.
  4. Please provide the number of children served and number of classrooms.
  5. What percent of children enrolled are state subsidized (CCAP/DHS)?
  6. Please provide a description of the organization (such as mission, strength of the staff, capacity to achieve goals, etc.)
  7. Provide a detailed description of your current facility and outdoor space and describe your goals for improvement (include pertinent photos).
  8. Using the criteria outlined above, describe why you believe your program is a good fit for this initiative.
  9. Provide at least one example of a facility project that you successfully implemented from start to finish.
  10. Provide your BrightStars rating, and if the rating is less than a 4 describe the concrete steps you are currently taking to improve your rating.

Proposals are due on Thursday,
February 1st, 2018 by 5:00pm

They should be submitted to:

Rhode Island Child Care Facilities Fund @ Local Initiatives Support Corporation
c/o Erin Cox, AIA
146 Clifford Street
Providence, RI 02903

-or-

ecox@lisc.org

Electronic or hard copy submissions will be accepted. Applicants will receive notification of decisions in February of 2018 with projects to begin in late winter/early spring 2018. Questions should be directed to Erin Cox at 401.519.5684 or ecox@lisc.org. We encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or need further clarification on the initiative.

September Update on the OPIPP

We are excited to share an update on the Outdoor Play Interventions Pilot Project (OPIPP), our strategy to aid in the development of low-cost, high-value, simple design interventions for outdoor spaces utilizing architectural design, LISC technical assistance, fundraising, and volunteer coordination.

In July 2017 we were awarded a Blue Across Rhode Island volunteer grant, which provided funding for each of our three sites (Children’s Friend – Hartford Ave, Jamestown Early Learning Center, and Westbay Children’s Center) as well as more than 100 volunteers for a day of service. Well that day took place September 15, 2017 and despite the gloomy forecast, the sun came out in full force and the results achieved by these “Playground Crashers” in just a few hours were astounding:

Visit www.bcbsri.com or search #BlueAcrossRI on social media to learn more about this amazing event.

NEXT STEPS: With projects nearing completion (thanks to our hardworking Blue Across Rhode Island volunteers) we are now focused on studying the impacts of the small-scale modifications as well as developing a free resource guide that will highlight the interventions and outline instructions for how each one can be built by any novice.

July Update on the OPIPP

We are excited to share an update on the Outdoor Play Interventions Pilot Project (OPIPP), our strategy to aid in the development of low-cost, high-value, simple design interventions for outdoor spaces utilizing architectural design, LISC technical assistance, fundraising, and volunteer coordination. Initial concept designs transforming the space have been completed, and we have narrowed down the interventions to build at each of our three sites: Westbay Children’s Center, Jamestown Early Learning Center, and Children’s Friend Hartford. Our resource guide showing each intervention and outlining instructions for how it can be built by any novice is in development.

Our biggest news is that this project is now supported in part by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, who awarded the RICCELFF a Blue Across Rhode Island volunteer grant, which provides funding for each of the three sites and more than 100 volunteers for a day of service on September 15, 2017. Visit www.bcbsri.com or search #BlueAcrossRI on social media to learn more about this amazing event that will take place at multiple locations across the state.

April Update on the OPIPP

We are so excited to share an update on the Outdoor Play Interventions Pilot Project (OPIPP), our strategy to aid in the development of low-cost, high-value simple design interventions for outdoor spaces utilizing architectural design, LISC technical assistance, fundraising, and volunteer coordination. Our landscape design architect, studioMLA, has been hard at work since our first brainstorming session in February to discuss all of the fun elements that could be added to our test sites and incorporated in a written resource guide highlighting these achievable, low-cost solutions for any type of outdoor play space.

On April 11th we met with our three pilot sites – Westbay Children’s Center, Jamestown Early Learning Center, and Children’s Friend Hartford – for a collaborative design review, discussing initial concepts for the transformation of space. The ideas shared were so inspiring we couldn’t wait to let other Rhode Island Child Care Centers know about them. Here is a sneak peek at the conceptual designs proposed for each site:

Westbay Children’s Center

Jamestown Early Learning Center

Children’s Friend Hartford

Update on the Outdoor Play Interventions Pilot Project (OPIPP)

In December we selected three very different sites to participate in our outdoor pilot project focusing on increasing play value with small investments, volunteers, and thoughtful design (see our original RFP to learn more about the project here). Site visits were conducted this month with the design team and ideas are starting to flow. We are excited to introduce the following three participants at their “before” stage and hope you continue to follow the project throughout the spring!


Children’s Friend – Hartford Avenue:
This Providence-based center is passionate about gardening but is fenced-in with only asphalt surfacing, some planter boxes, and undesignated open space for free play.


Jamestown Early Learning Center:
This center, located in Jamestown, has already rectified a number of safety hazards by eliminating large climbing equipment and removing years of degraded mulch. They would love to focus more on a natural play but need help better utilizing the newly acquired open space.


Westbay Children’s Center:
While there is plenty of space for the new toddler program at this Warwick center, there is a limited variety of play and materials for the children.

While these three sites are very unique they share equally in the need to offer more valuable play opportunities for Rhode Island’s children. We appreciate their enthusiastic commitment and we hope as this project continues you are also inspired to make some quality changes to your space!

Read More of Feburary Newsletter
This RFP is now closed. Site were selected in December 2016.

Background
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is the nation’s leading community development organization and specializes in building partnerships among the corporate, philanthropic, and public sectors to support grassroots community revitalization.  Created in 1980, LISC has offices in 30 cities and numerous rural locations nationwide.  The Rhode Island office opened in 1991.  LISC’s national child care program, the Community Investment Collaborative for Kids (CICK), was created in 1995 to improve the quality and expand the supply of child care in low-income communities through new investments in physical facilities.

Recognizing that child care providers need additional support to address facilities issues, LISC in collaboration with a coalition of public and private funding partners, formed the Rhode Island Child Care and Early Learning Facilities Fund (RICCELFF) in 2001. RICCELFF makes low-cost loans, awards grants and delivers training and technical expertise. The technical assistance includes things such as site analysis for new facilities, project planning, design and implementation advice for rehabilitation or construction designed to improve health, safety, accessibility, energy efficiency and quality conditions in child care facilities.  LISC also provides technical assistance on the financing of these facility improvements and can help to structure fundraising campaigns, debt financing and equity investments to implement design plans. Since inception in 2001, the RICCELFF has invested more than $19 million in child care facilities across Rhode Island. Technical support has been offered to more than 200 organizations and hundreds of early childhood professionals have participated in RICCELFF training programs.

Adding More Value to Outdoor Play
The benefits of a well-designed outdoor play space are endless. For children participating in child care programs the time spent outdoors while at those programs may constitute the majority of their outdoor time each week. Thus, child care facilities play a critical role in offering play environments that support children’s learning, promote active play and provide exposure to an array of natural elements.

Research has shown that even small interventions that add natural elements, sensory variety, and open ended play to children’s environments can have an important impact on child development. At this time the RICCELFF is seeking three to four licensed child care centers from across Rhode Island to participate in a pilot project to help develop, design, and implement small scale outdoor play components that increase the value of outdoor play.  These components are also viewed as design “interventions” and could include things such as adding unique sand and water play, art elements, loose parts play, natural elements, or simple cosmetic changes to the space. It will also focus on strategic space planning to promote increased and enhanced interaction between children, children and their teachers, and children and their physical environment. We hope to use the pilot sites as case studies and to create a resource that will give Rhode Island child care centers access to proven strategies to improve their outdoor environments in incremental, achievable steps.  As a participant in this program you will receive, at no cost to your center, conceptual design and up to $5,000 to implement these small scale strategies on your play space. As part of this project you will receive:

  • A site visit and brainstorming meeting with the center director and other key staff for input on needs and concerns for outdoor space
  • Photographic documentation, rough field measurements, and a sketch of the play space’s existing conditions
  • A conceptual sketch plan of the play space to include the proposed design “interventions”
  • A private grant up to $5,000 to build out proposed “interventions”
  • An 8-1/2” x 11” hand-sketched data sheet with description, detail, and sourcing information for each intervention
  • On-going on-site technical assistance to complete intervention, including potential volunteer “days of service” and/or assistance in coordinating volunteer “days of service”
  • Assistance in developing a fundraising plan for any financial needs that exceed $5,000
  • Public recognition of your participation in the project to other funders and state leaders
This Project is for you if: This Project is NOT for you if:
You don’t mind if your kids get dirty when they play outside You do not want your kids getting dirty when they play outside
You have teachers willing to take risks and try new things You are risk adverse
You are willing to let visitors tour your center to observe the “interventions” You do not want people visiting your center
You are interested in the quality of play your children are engaged in, regardless of whether or not it has a direct impact on things such as a BrightStars or ECERS score Solely interested in increasing your BrightStars rating or ECERS score
Your outdoor play space is currently generally safe You have major health and safety issues you are working to address in your outdoor play space
You have staff and/or parents who would be able and willing to help build and create things, help fundraise and would get excited about a new adventure You have limited ability to engage center or community volunteers
You are excited at the idea of trying something “outside the box” Your goal is a very conventional play space with new equipment and lots of poured in place type surfacing

Meet the Designers:

Designs and drawings will be done by LISC’s consulting architect, studioMLA (www.studiomla.com). studioMLA is widely considered one of the leading architectural firms in the field of child care and educational design. The design team is as follows:

Mike Lindstrom, AIA, LEED AP, is the Principal of studioMLA. Mike, along with Jim Greenman, led the annual Child Care Design Institute at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design from 2000 to 2008 and has served as an advisor to the American Academy of Pediatrics on Child Care Center Design. In his more than twenty years of designing both buildings and outdoor play and learning areas for children, Mike’s extensive experience with the complex design, regulatory, and construction processes inherent in creating children’s environments has assured a cost-effective product conducive to the highest quality child development experience.

Mr. Lindstrom has practiced architecture since 1982 in Paris, New York and Boston. In addition to his teaching at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, he has served as an Instructor for the Boston Architectural Center and as an Assistant for the Parsons School of Design – Paris Program. Mr. Lindstrom received a Master of Architecture degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a B.S. in Architectural Studies from the University of Illinois.

 

Joanne J. Hiromura, RLA, is a registered landscape architect and a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI). As Director of Landscape and Outdoor Playspace Design at studioMLA Architects, Joanne is responsible for the full range of landscape architectural services in the design of outdoor environments for children.  Joanne’s experience includes more than twenty years of focus in the area of design for children’s outdoor play spaces in a wide range of settings including public parks, children’s zoos, nature areas, elementary schools, and child care campuses.  Her portfolio includes children’s environments across the country, in dynamic urban settings as well as in more natural contexts.  Joanne’s extensive experience with the complex design, regulatory, and construction processes inherent in creating children’s play spaces has resulted in successful projects that have been executed with sensitivity and creativity. Joanne received a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from the University of Oregon in 1980.

Sara Brunelle is a landscape designer. In addition to working at studioMLA, Sara is a Research Assistant and Play Space Designer at the Child & Family Research Institute in Vancouver, BC, Canada, focusing her studies on: “Risky Play Meets Nature Play: The influence of outdoor play spaces and risky play on child development” and “Play Worth Remembering: Gaining public insights into memories of outdoor play spaces”. Check out the press release for these studies here: http://news.ubc.ca/2016/04/11/kids-more-active-less-depressed-when-playgrounds-include-natural-elements/

Erica Quigley is a landscape designer and CPSI. She is in the Master of Landscape Architecture program at the Boston Architectural College. Erica was a teacher naturalist at Mass Audubon for 11 years, where she engaged audiences in outdoor explorations and consulted with schools on their outdoor classrooms and curriculum. She led the development of Mass Audubon’s statewide policy document on nature play.

The plans and interventions developed as part of this project will be featured in training sessions as well as publications. Centers selected will be highlighted throughout a variety of media.

ELIGIBILITY

Eligibility is limited to licensed Rhode Island center-based child care programs serving children from birth to school age. Applicants may be either non-profit or for-profit corporations serving at least 30% DHS subsidized children (or must be able to sufficiently provide some alternate proof of a charitable purpose).

REQUIREMENTS OF GRANTEES

Grantees receiving funds under this project will be asked to agree to the following:

  • Provide copies of any existing site plans (if available)
  • Make key staff available to meet with RICCELFF project consultants for input into site design
  • Provide a tour of the space post-“intervention” (date TBA)
  • Comply with any relevant project and financial reporting requirements

SELECTION PRIORITIES

Priority will be given to proposals that address the following goals:

  • The program can articulate their “outdoor play philosophy” as part of their overall programming and curriculum.
  • The organization can demonstrate that it has a history of particularly innovative practices and ideas.
  • The organization can cite compelling ways that they have previously adopted practices that are demonstrated to improve child health and well-being, including how they have communicated with and involved staff and parents in those practices.
  • The organization has a key staff person who can be the lead on the project, and can describe how this person’s qualifications make them a unique fit for this project.
  • The center can demonstrate a strong commitment to quality (for example through NAEYC Accreditation, RIDE Certification and/or by actively participating in the BrightStars quality rating system.)
  • The program can show a commitment to serving high-needs children, such as children participating in CCAP and other special populations. Include a breakdown of children currently served (use the following chart as a guide):
# of DHS subsidized children # of private pay children # of other children (Head Start/Early Head Start, IEPs.) Total # of children
INFANT
TODDLER
PRESCHOOL
SCHOOL-AGE

If the total percentage of DHS subsidized children is less than 30%, please provide an explanation of why you believe your center is serving a high-needs population.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Provide a written narrative briefly addressing the competition priorities listed above. Please also provide a detailed description of your current facility and playground space and describe your goals for improvement. Be sure to include any photographs that you feel help describe your current outdoor environment.

Proposals are due on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 by 5:00pm

They should be submitted to:

Rhode Island Child Care Facilities Fund @ Local Initiatives Support Corporation
c/o Erin Cox, AIA
146 Clifford Street
Providence, RI  02903

-or-

ecox@lisc.org

Electronic or hard copy submissions will be accepted. Applicants will receive notification of decisions in December of 2016 with projects to begin in early 2017. Questions should be directed to Erin Cox at 401.519.5684 or ecox@lisc.org. We encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or need further clarification on the initiative.

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