The CarMax Foundation Supports Play With KaBOOM!: CarMax and KaBOOM!
CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, has more than 200 stores nationwide, and during the latest fiscal year sold nearly 750,000 used cars and 450,000 wholesale vehicles at its in-store auctions. With more than 25,000 associates, CarMax has been recognized for 15 consecutive years as one of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For.
The CarMax Foundation and KaBOOM! have a long-standing partnership to address the most pressing needs of kids and communities across the country. Projects give kids in CarMax communities the active play they need to thrive; build strong, spirited employee teams who are proud to directly contribute to CarMax community efforts; and earn brand trust and emotional connections with key audiences. Currently, that partnership comes to life in three key ways.
Playground projects provide a unique way for communities and CarMax volunteers to come together to put kids first and give them a kid-designed, community-built playspace. Together, the partners are working to build 90 playgrounds impacting more than 225,000 kids by the end of 2021. Programs are structured so that high- performing and civically-minded associates are rewarded with leadership opportunities and recognition via KaBOOM! projects.
Second, The CarMax Foundation and KaBOOM! jointly identified the need to help active-duty military and veterans’ families cope with the unique challenges their children face, including frequent moves, the stress of a parent’s deployment and the loss of family or community members. The partners co-created an innovative approach to supporting these families through increased access to play, including dedicated grants for playgrounds, Imagination Playgrounds and Rigamajig (a large-scale building kit used for hands-on free play and playful STE(A)M learning). This investment supports CarMax interest in supporting active duty service members, veterans and their families as well as being an employer of choice for veterans and military-connected families.
Lastly, The CarMax Foundation and KaBOOM! partnered to launch the Future Innovators Program in 2019, addressing the need for early development of 21st-century skills, such as STEM, critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity. Future Innovators fosters 21st-century skills development in pursuit of CarMax’s future workforce development goals.
As part of this initiative, The CarMax Foundation has created an Innovation Fund with KaBOOM!, investing over three years in the development of other ground-breaking solutions that enable kids to play more actively and more often, including through the development of tech-enabled playgrounds. The CarMax Foundation and KaBOOM! are invested in creating opportunities for kids to develop 21st-century skills through active play, which also supports CarMax’s brand positioning as an innovative company.
Each KaBOOM! grant provides an opportunity for 5 to 125 CarMax associates to participate, depending on the category of the project. For the Military and Future Innovators grants (awarding either an Imagination Playground or Rigamajig), anywhere from 5-15 associates participate in a community event celebrating the grant. For Future Innovators grants, associates lead ‘Innovators Challenges’, leveraging project-based lesson plans created with funding from The CarMax Foundation to inspire kids to build unique designs and work together to flex their creative problem-solving skills through the use of Rigamajig.
For the traditional playground building projects, 125 CarMax associates volunteer side-by-side with 75 volunteers from the community to paint, haul, assemble and install a playground with safety surfacing and surrounding beautification projects all in one day. Every project is designed to maximize connections among and across community members and CarMax associates.
As a result, CarMax associates have volunteered with KaBOOM! over 10,000 times in roughly 100 markets across the US. KaBOOM! projects are a large driver of high CarMax volunteering rate, roughly 50% participating in community efforts and 94% of associates say they feel good about the way CarMax contributes to the community.
The CarMax Foundation has strengthened the overall ability of KaBOOM! to reach its mission, by putting a stake in the ground as a key supporter of KaBOOM!, by pushing KaBOOM! to consider new ways in which existing programs could have deeper impact, and by investing in new and innovative programs.