December 2022

The Winners of The Build a World of Play Challenge

Celebrating the LEGO® brand’s 90th year and reaffirming our commitment to the world’s children, we’re announcing the 5 winning projects that will ensure young children around the world thrive.

The LEGO Foundation

Celebrating Five Organisations that Give Children the Best Start in Life

2022 marked the LEGO® brand’s 90th anniversary, 9 decades dedicated to play, imagination, curiosity, and learning. At the LEGO Foundation we put our heads together and asked ourselves, how do we celebrate in a way that reaffirms our commitment to the world’s children?

Baby steps won’t do

There’s a critical window to give children the best start in life. Yet children under six are often forgotten in national plans. It’s a global crisis: millions of children around the world don’t have access to quality learning and health services and the critical support that they and their families need– an emergency exacerbated through the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict, and climate change.

We need to invest in children from day one

If we’re going to build a world that puts children first, we need bold ideas. And the investments to make them reality. So we teamed up with Lever for Change to run a global challenge designed to identify 5 bold, innovative, and impactful solutions. The winning projects will receive a total of 900 million Danish kroner in grants combined, to turn their ideas into reality.

The Five Winners

These 5 solutions and the organisations behind them make substantial contributions to the lives of children from birth to six years using culturally relevant and sustainable approaches. Collectively they’ll positively impact the holistic development of young children and promote their wellbeing, as well as that of their caregivers, and their communities.

Learn more about the winners

Clinton Health Access Initiative

Project name: Early Assistive Technology Access

Location: Sierra Leone, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Indonesia

Millions of children with disabilities are barred from their right to play because they lack access to life-changing assistive technology such as wheelchairs or hearing aids. Only a fraction of them get the products and services they need, largely through charitable donations. The Clinton Health Access Initiative aims to transform play for disabled children in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. It will support governments to implement policies that integrate screening, early access to assistive technology, and play therapy into health facilities and schools.

Find out more here.

Johns Hopkins Center for Indigenous Health

Project name: Reclaiming Children’s Futures

Location: United States

Indigenous people suffer the greatest inequities in the world – including the devastating loss of children to foster care. The Family Spirit programme protects and strengthens parent-child relationships through culturally-grounded home education from pregnancy to age 5 and will be expanded in communities across the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The team aims to add to its impact with natured-based family play spaces to promote the power of playing together as well as reinforcing Indigenous family traditions.

Find out more here.

Impact and Innovation Development Centre

Project name: REAL Fathers

Location: Uganda

Children struggle to thrive when they’re growing up in a violent home. Responsible, Engaged And Loving (REAL) Fathers is a government-endorsed positive parenting programme. Mentors coach parents in play and nonviolent discipline – which in turn helps children in Uganda grow up healthier and happier. IIDC and its partners aim to adapt REAL across more local cultures, train more community-based mentors and help local government track the project’s impact.

Find out more here.

IRD Global

Project name: GogoPlay

Location: South Africa

11% of South Africa’s population is under the age of five. Children and their caregivers living in remote areas often miss out on early childhood development (ECD) initiatives. So IRD Global and its partners aim to co-create playhouses in rural South Africa. They’ll focus on pre-school classes for young children, as well as day care and mental health services for caregivers and other community members. And they’ll train local women, particularly grandmothers (gogos), on ECD to extend reach into communities nearby.

Find out more here.

Ubongo International

Project name: Akili Family

Location: Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda

Africa’s youngest learners are missing out on early education. Caregivers lack the knowledge and resources to support them – believing play is disruptive, and learning starts at school. Ubongo creates and distributes locally relevant learning resources through TV, radio, digital and mobile to 31 million families across 23 countries in Africa. It plans to scale the Akili Family programme to bring play-based resources to family’s homes.

Find out more here.

"As part of the LEGO brand’s 90th anniversary, the LEGO Foundation made a commitment to help build a better world for young children to thrive. The Build a World of Play Challenge is designed to do just that, by funding innovative projects that make a real difference for global childhood development and give young children a better start in life. Congratulations to all the recipients, who have all demonstrated game-changing solutions. We look forward to working alongside them as long-term partners, to invest in children’s futures."
Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chairman of the LEGO Foundation Board of Directors
"These outstanding projects are all committed to build inclusivity. They will work to reach and engage with some of the most marginalised children and communities around the world, creating conditions for all children to learn, play, and thrive during the most critical years of their lives"
Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chairman of the LEGO Foundation Board of Directors

The Challenge received a total of 627 valid proposals from 86 countries, from which ten finalists were selected. Applicants were evaluated by multi-disciplinary experts from across the world based on four criteria: whether they were impactful, feasible, community-centred, and sustainable. Each of the ten finalists received approximately DKK 6 million (US$ 1 million) to strengthen their proposed plan, start building their team, and scale up to successfully implement their innovation.


The LEGO Foundation invites other donors to join their efforts, so that all ten of the top-ranked solutions can be fully funded. Donors interested in providing additional funding for this challenge should contact Dana Rice, Vice President of Philanthropy, Lever for Change at

Find out more