Kids need to play.

The Tony Hawk Foundation believes Encouraging free play and providing youth with opportunities to develop active, healthy lifestyles are key to ensuring their well being. With childhood obesity rates more than tripling since 1980*, access to parks is no longer a luxury—it’s essential to the health of our children.

Children in low-income families are particularly at risk, in part because they have fewer opportunities to participate in organized sports leagues and activities. Fighting obesity has become a critical national priority, with long-term health risks including—but not limited to—heart disease, high cholesterol, depression, and even cancer**. More importantly, healthier kids are happier.

Two of the nation’s most prominent advocates for youth have joined together to address this issue. The Tony Hawk Foundation has partnered with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to promote the creation of free, public skateparks in the 16 counties of Southeast Michigan and Western New York served by RCWJRF.

With matching-grant funds of up to $250,000, the Built to Play Skatepark Program supports community groups and municipal entities seeking to create free, public skateparks that serve low-income communities. In addition to grant funding, the program also provides advisory services and advocacy training to assist groups in organizing and managing their efforts.

Built to Play Skatepark Grants serving counties in Southeast Michigan and Western New York. Built to Play Skatepark Grants serving counties in Southeast Michigan and Western New York.

Only organizations seeking to build free, public skateparks in the 16 counties listed below are eligible to apply for the Built to Play Skatepark Grant:[/caption]

Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

New York
Allegany, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

Communities outside of these counties may be eligible to apply for the Tony Hawk Foundation’s national Skatepark Grant program. More information about the THF Skatepark Grant program can be found here.

While we realize that not every community can afford to build a world-class skatepark, we believe that every community deserves a quality facility created by experienced contractors. We believe that a small, excellent skatepark is better than a large, flawed one. We also believe that local officials should treat public skateparks the same way they treat public basketball courts or tennis courts, meaning that anyone may show up and use them during regular park hours, unsupervised. We know that kids everywhere love their local skateparks and that more skateparks will result in even more healthier, happier kids. 

The Built to Play Skatepark Program primarily considers skatepark projects that:

  1. are designed and built from durable, low-maintenance materials by qualified and experienced skatepark contractors.
  2. include local skaters in leadership and volunteer roles throughout the planning, fundraising, and design process.
  3. will serve low- to middle-income areas and/or areas with a high population of “at-risk” youth.
  4. can demonstrate a strong grassroots commitment to the project, particularly in the form of fundraising by local skateboarders and other community groups.
  5. encourage skaters to look after their own safety and the safety of others without restricting their access to the park or over-regulating their use of it.
  6. are open during daylight hours, 365 days a year.
  7. don’t charge an entrance fee or require registration.
  8. are in areas that currently have no accessible skateboarding facilities


As the benefits of skateparks are felt within a community, the demand for grants from the Built to Play Skatepark Program will become increasingly competitive across the region. If your proposed skatepark does not reflect the priorities outlined above, your project is unlikely to receive a grant through this program.

All Built to Play Skatepark Grant Applicants will receive a detailed review of their projects, whether a grant is awarded or not.

Before beginning the Grant Application process, you should review these eligibility requirements. If you have questions and would like clarification of the qualities we seek, or would simply like to review your project with Built to Play Skatepark Program staff, please contact us.


Can we apply for a Built to Play Skatepark Grant?

  1. If your project is not located in one of the 16 counties listed above, you are not eligible to apply for the Built to Play Skatepark Grant.
  2. If your organization is not a public charity (organized under IRC Sec. 501c3, and qualified under IRC Sec. 170b1A, or does not have an eligible fiscal sponsor, and does not have a Federal ID# number and an IRS Determination Letter to confirm your tax-exempt status) or your organization is not a state or local agency, including public school systems or public projects, you are not eligible to apply for the Built to Play Skatepark Grant.
  3. If your organization is not prepared to sign a Grant Agreement document absolving the Tony Hawk Foundation, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the Community Foundation Of Greater Buffalo, and the Community Foundation Of Southeast Michigan from any and all liability claims resulting from use of your skatepark, you are not eligible to apply for the Built to Play Skatepark Grant.
  4. If your organization plans to build a skatepark from steel or wood ramps it is not eligible to apply for a Built to Play Skatepark Grant. Your project must be a permanent, concrete skatepark.
  5. If your organization has already received a grant from the Built to Play Skatepark Program for the same project, it is not eligible to apply for another Built to Play Skatepark Grant.
  6. If your organization seeks funds for anything other than the construction of a new skatepark, adding to an existing skatepark, or replacing temporary skate elements with concrete, it is not eligible for a Built to Play Skatepark Grant.
  7. If the Median Household Income in the city, town, or neighborhood where the skatepark will be located in is significantly higher than your State’s Median Household Income (using U.S. Census 2010 data from, your organization is not eligible to apply for a Built to Play Skatepark Grant.
  8. If you plan to charge a fee, or require waivers, registration, or a membership to use the skatepark, your organization is not eligible to apply for a Built to Play Skatepark Grant.
  9. Aside from daylight hours, city curfew, or city park hours, if you plan to limit the hours of access to the skatepark, your organization is not eligible to apply for a Built to Play Skatepark Grant.
  10. If your finished skatepark will not be located on public property, you are not eligible to apply for a Built to Play Skatepark Grant.


The principal focus of Built to Play Skatepark grants is to encourage and facilitate the design, development, and construction of new quality skateboard parks and facilities, located in eligible communities in the 16 counties served by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. Skatepark projects in communities outside this service area or those seeking funds for anything other than the construction of a skateboard park may not apply for a Built to Play Skatepark Grant.


The Built to Play Skatepark Grant Program provides matching funds up to $250,000 for the construction of public skateparks in eligible communities within the 16-county service area. Grant recipients will need to independently raise the matching amount.


The Tony Hawk Foundation will advise and assist Built to Play Skatepark Grant recipients in every way possible, including community and civic engagement, site selection criteria, technical assistance on design and construction, promotional materials, and other information. THF may also facilitate support from vendors, suppliers, and community leaders.


Grants are based on a one-time, single-year award. The Built to Play Skatepark Program does not provide sustaining funds or multi-year grants.


Applicant must be a public charity (ad hoc community groups may enlist a nonprofit fiscal sponsor to apply on their behalf), organized under IRC Sec. 501(C)(3), and qualified under IRC Sec. 170(B)(1)(A), or a state or local agency, including public school systems or public projects. For organizations that are not municipalities or state or local agencies, proof of federal tax-exempt status is required with the grant application. A photocopy or scan of the organization’s IRS Determination Letter, showing its tax-exempt status, will satisfy this requirement. The Tony Hawk Foundation is legally prohibited from providing grants to private, for-profit entities.


Built to Play Skatepark Grant applications are completed online, and all supporting paper documents are then mailed to our office. The Worksheet may be used to prepare answers before completing the online grant application, as some of the questions require research or longer answers. A PRINTED WORKSHEET MAY NOT SUBSTITUTE THE ONLINE GRANT APPLICATION. Supporting documents sent to our office that do not correspond to a completed online application will not be considered.

DOC WORKSHEET (download)

We recommend completing the Worksheet and collecting ALL necessary supporting documents before beginning the online application process.

Supporting documents are mailed to Tony Hawk Foundation via overland mail and include the following:

  • Determination Letter: If this application is coming from a non-profit organization other than a municipality or public agency, a copy of your IRS Determination Letter must be submitted with this application.
  • Government Approval: Proof of City Council or local administration approval of the skatepark project in the form of a letter (on city or county letterhead).
  • Financial Statements: The most recent financial statements and budget of the skatepark project, if any.
  • Community Support: Please include documentation (such as newspaper clips or letters from prominent officials) of community support for your skatepark.
  • Concept Design (optional): Please include a concept design of the facility you plan on producing, if available.

If the grant application is approved, the applicant will be required to sign a Grant Agreement, confirming the terms of the award.

Only applications submitted via the online form will be considered. Applications may not be submitted via printed forms, FAX, e-mail, or CDs and other digital media.

The foundation anticipates approving grant requests twice a year. To be considered within a calendar semester, applications should be submitted via the online Grant Application on or before the dates posted below. All required supporting documents must be postmarked within one business day following the Grant Application deadline.


Built to Play Skatepark Grants are offered twice a year. All dates subject to change.

Fall 2019: Deadline TBD


There is no limit to the number of times an organization or community can apply for a Built to Play Skatepark Grant, though any project may only receive the grant once. The next opportunity to apply is listed under Deadlines above. The Grant Application will be available approximately six weeks prior to each deadline.


If you are interested in a skatepark for your community but haven’t taken any steps, we have free resources for you. From planning tools to advocacy tips, experts at the Tony Hawk Foundation are ready to answer your questions and help you turn your idea into a living project. Reach us at

* National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, NCHS Health E-Stat, Prevalence of Obesity Among Children and Adolescents: United States, Trends 1963-1965 Through 2007-2008, Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (

** Source: “Overweight And Obesity: Health Consequences,” United States Department Of Health And Human Services (



Tony Hawk Foundation

The Tony Hawk Foundation seeks to foster lasting improvements in society, with an emphasis on supporting and empowering youth in disadvantaged communities. In the U.S., the Foundation supports the creation of public skateboard parks that promote healthy, active lifestyles.


Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. believed effective change should make an impact from the start, yet carry long into the future. To do both, he earmarked a portion of his estate and the eventual sale of his beloved Buffalo Bills to fund his namesake foundation. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation began operations in 2015 to continue his legacy—one of generosity and innovation, healthy risk-taking and collaboration, and an unshakeable community focus.


We Want To Hear From You!

Questions or comments regarding the Built to Play Skatepark Program can be sent to

Does Your Community Need A Playground?

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and KaBOOM! have partnered to launch the Built to Play Unique Playground Builds program and Play Everywhere Challenge to create innovative opportunities for play. KaBOOM! is the national nonprofit dedicated to giving all kids the childhood they deserve through great, safe places to play.