Working at Playworks | Glassdoor

Playworks Overview

Oakland, CA
501 to 1000 employees
Nonprofit Organization
Education Training Services
$50 to $100 million (USD) per year
At Playworks we believe in the power of play to bring out the best in every kid. We are changing school climate by leveraging the power of safe, fun, and healthy play at school every day. We create a place for every kid on the playground to feel included, be active, and build ... Read more

Mission: Playworks’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play.​ Today, Playworks is the leading national nonprofit leveraging the power of play to transform ... Read more

Company Updates

  • Playworks earned a 2019 Gold Seal of Transparency. By adding information about our goals, strategies, capabilities, and vision, we are highlighting the difference we help to make in the world. Check out our updated GuideStar hashtag#NonprofitProfile:

    Playworks Education Energized - GuideStar Profile

    GuideStar connects donors and grantmakers to non-profit organizations.

  • In this American Management Association AMA Quarterly Journal article, Playworks President Elizabeth Cushing shares how and why you should build a corporate culture with play at the core:
    #PlayEveryDay #PowerofPlay #ItPaysToPlay #CorporateCulture

    AMA Quarterly Fall 2018

    Journal of The American Management Association NTT Data: An Influential Japanese Company Going Global

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Playworks Video

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Playworks – Why Work For Us?

PLAYWORKS for every kid.

We all know that through play children learn critical skills for getting along with each other, working in teams and resolving disagreements. We also know that the playground is where children have the opportunity to be leaders and live out positive cultural values like including others and demonstrating empathy.

But unfortunately, school principals tell us that nearly all discipline-related problems in school occur during recess. Instead of going back to class energized and ready to learn, the kids return to class upset and unable to focus.

We can change this. Recess should be fun and energetic and safe and inclusive for everyone. Isn't that what we want for all kids in elementary school today?

When recess becomes a healthy, integral part of the school day, kids carry that positive experience with them beyond the playground.  

We are coaches, kids, teachers, parents, and supporters who believe in the power of play to make kids, schools, and communities stronger. On our playgrounds, everyone plays, everyone belongs, everyone has the opportunity to get in the game. Playworks coaches encourage kids to bring out the best in themselves and each other, and kids learn the value of fair play, inclusion, and respect. We are changing school culture by leveraging the power of safe, fun, and healthy play at school every day. We create a place for every kid on the playground to feel included, be active, and build valuable social and emotional skills.

On our playgrounds, kids become leaders. They run their own games and settle their disputes quickly (rock-paper-scissors is our problem solver) because getting along is more fun than fighting.

On our playgrounds, kids play hard, cheer loud, and high-five with joy. Whether through imaginative play or organized games, they carry a feeling of empowerment and belonging with them into their classrooms, back to their neighborhoods, and out into the world.

Playworks’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play. Today, Playworks is the leading national nonprofit leveraging the power of play to transform children’s social and emotional health. Playworks currently serves more than 2,000 schools in 23 U.S. cities, and reaches 1 million students directly and through professional training services.

PLAYWORKS for teachers and principals

Every year we survey the staff at our partner schools around the country to see Playworks through their eyes. Here’s what they reported this year:

  • A decrease in bullying
  • An improvement in overall school climate
  • A reduction in disciplinary incidents
  • More participation in academics
  • An increase in students’ abilities to focus on class activities

In addition, Stanford University and Mathematica Policy Research spent time on our playgrounds studying our program. In 2013, they published a randomized control trial, considered the gold standard for research, that found that compared to other schools, schools with Playworks experienced less bullying and exclusionary behavior, an increased perception of safety, more physical activity, better behavior and more attention in class than schools without the program.

In 1996, Jill Vialet was sitting across from a principal of an elementary school in Oakland. The principal looked haggard, emerging from an earlier meeting trailed by three 5th grade boys. The principal launched into a tirade about… recess.

She was tired of seeing the same kids in her office every day, hauled in for fighting on the playground. These weren’t bad kids, the principal insisted. They just were using their powers unwisely on the playground. Meanwhile, her teachers looked for any excuse — sometimes literally hiding — to avoid recess so they wouldn’t have to confront the inevitable outbreak of chaos.

Shortly after that meeting, Vialet founded Sports4Kids, now Playworks. Our goal: transform recess and the school day with safe and healthy play so teachers can teach and kids can learn.

Today, recess on our playgrounds is a lot more fun. There are games going on where previously the space was unused or chaotic. There are fewer kids on the sidelines. Kids play together — boys with girls, girls with boys. They’re active, and you see a lot of high fives and hear a lot of positive language. On our playgrounds, kids resolve those little issues by simply using Rock-Paper-Scissors. Every kid plays.

Playworks is the only nonprofit organization in the country providing trained, full-time coaches focused on recess to hundreds of low-income schools in major urban areas. We also provide training and technical assistance to schools, districts and youth organizations that want to ensure that every kid plays - safely, inclusively and with joy.

Principals and teachers at our schools want us back every year, telling us that that disciplinary issues are down and engagement and participation in the classroom is up -- dramatically. They tell us there’s more community at their schools with kids playing outside their normal groups. And they tell us that there’s more time for students to learn because teachers spend less time transitioning from recess to the classroom, and fewer conflicts spilling into it. In fact, around the country our teachers tell us they get back around 20 hours in recovered teaching time.

They tell us that the safe and healthy play Playworks brings to schools helps students succeed in the classroom — and in life. Playworks for every kid. 

Playworks believes in the power of play to bring out the best in every kid. We create a place for every kid on the playground -- a place where every kid belongs, has fun and is part of the game. We operate our Playworks Coach program in low-income schools in 23 urban cities in the United States. In addition, Playworks Pro serves hundreds of schools all around the country by providing tools, training and consultation services to any school or youth organization that wishes to create a place for every kid on the playground. 

To learn more about how Playworks is creating a place for every kid on school playgrounds in your community, check out



Playworks provides employees with the following paid holidays during the year: Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, 2 days for Thanksgiving, the week from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day and Your Birthday.  Employees may also take 2 additional Floating Holidays during the year to observe holidays. Playworks employees are also eligible for a paid Service Day if you participate in a service program that is at least 4 hours long.

We provide vacation leave for rest, relaxation and renewal to all regular employees except seasonal Program Coordinators.  Program Coordinators receive paid time off based on school closure days of school they are assigned to work in. The amount of vacation earned increases with employee’s length of qualifying service:

Length of Service

Days per Year

0 through 2 years


2 through 5 years


5 or more years


Employees are eligible for up to 9 days of sick leave per year.  Sick leave accrues each pay period at a rate of 1 hr for every 30 hrs/worked up to a maximum of 72 hours per year

Regular full-time employees working 30 or more hours per week are eligible to enroll in our health, dental and vision insurance plans, employer paid life insurance and long-term and short-term disability insurance. We also have a voluntary supplemental life insurance program. Coverage under and participation in these plans begin the first day of the month after eligibility/waiting period has been met.

During orientation you will be offered a choice of health insurance plans designed for different needs, including 3 Aetna plans and, if you’re in California, 3 Kaiser plans. These include low-cost and no deductible options!

Playworks employees can potentially save a significant amount on taxes by enrolling in our flexible spending accounts designed to help pay for health care, dependent care, and commuter expenses through tax advantage accounts.

Playworks also offers a 401(k) plan through Fidelity Investments, including a company match of up to 1% of your pay. This can help you save money on taxes while saving toward retirement.

Another great benefit of working at Playworks is time to play!  We schedule regular recess time for ourselves and have annual holiday parties, Summer BBQ, Appreciation events, etc.  We truly believe in Healthy Play and Healthy Community for ourselves as well as the children and communities we serve!

Serving Your Community Through Play

Playworks AmeriCorps coaches are trained and placed in elementary schools to serve their community by providing essential opportunities for children to explore their imaginations, to connect with other kids, and to stretch and grow. Through service, Playworks AmeriCorps Members create a place for every kid on the playground to feel included, be active, and build valuable social and emotional skills by organizing games before, during, and after school.

Join Playworks and help transform a community by engaging students in play at recess and throughout the school day.

Benefits of the Position

During your ten months of service at your elementary school, you will...

  • Transform the culture of the school community through creating opportunities for safe, healthy, and inclusive play.
  • Inspire, train, and support a group of youth leaders to take ownership of the climate of their school through role modeling, conflict resolution, and service.
  • Connect students, parents, teachers, and administrators through play and our community engagement initiatives.

After your ten months of service at your elementary school, you will...

  • Have acquired 125 hours of professional development in youth leadership, group management, youth development, service planning, cultural competency, and more.
  • Connect to a network of more than 15,000 Playworks AmeriCorps and staff alumni now working within nonprofit, education, and various private sectors across the country.
  • Pay for further education through an education award received upon the completion of your service.


About AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps is a national community service program where people commit to serve with an organization. Nationwide, AmeriCorps members, commit to either a part-time or full-time position. At Playworks, our full-time Corps Member commit to serving a 1,700 hour term of service. This typically coincides with a full school year (about ten months).

More information about AmeriCorps can be found on the AmeriCorps FAQ.


Playworks Reviews

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Approve of CEO
Playworks CEO and Founder Jill Vialet
Jill Vialet
70 Ratings
  • "Great People and Mission"

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Site Coordinator in Saint Paul, MN
    Current Employee - Site Coordinator in Saint Paul, MN
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Playworks full-time (More than 3 years)


    Fun job, great local support from managers, small team means you get experiences in many different roles, meaningful and impactful work.


    Limited resources (it's a non profit), semi high turnover because it's a demanding job

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Playworks Photos

Playworks photo of: Hoopin'
Playworks photo of: Just being awesome :)
Playworks photo of: Office Halloween!
Playworks photo of: Christmas!
Playworks photo of: Hula Hoop guru
Playworks photo of: Mission Support Team
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Playworks Interviews



Getting an Interview

Getting an Interview




  1. Helpful (37)  

    Associate Trainer Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview


    I applied online. I interviewed at Playworks.


    I applied internally online by submitting my resume, a cover letter, and answering short answer questions. I was then contacted to complete a phone interview, which took about 30 minutes. I was then asked to do an in-person interview with the Program Director and the Executive Director. Before the in-person interview I was asked to complete an online personality test. In the interview, I was asked typical behavioral and situational questions. I was also asked to facilitate a group activity to showcase my facilitation skills. I received a job offer about a week later.

    Interview Questions

    • What do you think will be your biggest challenge in this position?   6 Answers
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Playworks Awards & Accolades

  • 2016 Great Nonprofit, Great Nonprofits, 2016
  • 2015 Great Nonprofits, Great Nonprofits, 2015
  • Top-Rated Nonprofit, Great Nonprofits, 2016
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Pledges & Certifications

Career Advancement Program

Helping employees "upskill" into higher-paying positions

Diversity Commitment

Has programs that support a diverse and inclusive workforce

Veteran Hiring Commitment

Committed to helping America's military veterans find work

Pay Equality Pledge

Committed to paying equitably for equal work & experience

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