Knox Education Foundation Launches Playspace Fund

December 5, 2023

The Knox Education Foundation announced the establishment of the Playspace Fund on December 4, 2023, at Fountain City Elementary School.

Group picture at Playspace launch announcement

The Playspace Fund was established by Knox Education Foundation through a combination of public and private funding to address inconsistencies in play spaces across Knox County Schools (KCS). The creation of this fund provides for a standard quality of play spaces throughout the district. Knox Education Foundation has worked with the KCS playground team to identify a standard for school playgrounds, taking into account factors such as school size and student population (K-5, preschool, etc.), ADA needs, and available playground space. Leveraging a combination of public and private contributions, the Playspace Fund seeks to reduce the burden of individual school play space funding while ensuring that play spaces throughout KCS meet the standard for each school.

“We are excited to launch this innovative approach focused on solving the challenges related to play spaces for schools across the district,” said Mike Taylor, Knox Education Foundation CEO. “KEF is dedicated to developing transformational initiatives that support continuous improvement in public education and improve educational experiences for students.”

Approximately $4.5 million is needed to standardize play spaces across the county. KEF has secured a portion of the funding and is launching a fundraising campaign to raise the remaining $2.3 million needed by 2026.

“Last year, KCS made a commitment to increase our playground maintenance budget by 175%, up to $394,000. In addition, we have contributed $250,000 to the PlaySpace Fund,” said KCS Superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk. “We are thrilled to have a public-private partnership committed to investing in our schools and play spaces, and we’re optimistic this fund will make a meaningful impact throughout the district.”

Phase 1 of the Playspace Fund was launched and will fund 11 playgrounds at 7 schools. The following schools are included in Phase 1: Belle Morris Elementary School, Fountain City Elementary, Fair Garden Early Learning Center, Knoxville Adaptive Education Center, Sarah Moore Greene Elementary, Spring Hill Elementary, and West Haven Elementary. These schools were deemed the highest-need schools in the district and designated for Phase 1 support from the Playspace Fund. For more information, visit the KEF website at https://knoxed.org/play.


Serving Knox County for more than two decades, the Knox Education Foundation (KEF) reformed as a 501(c)3 organization in 2020 through the merger of the Great Schools Partnership Trust and Project GRAD Knoxville. This consolidation created a robust public-private partnership dedicated to investing in and advocating for innovative programs, partnerships, and initiatives to strengthen public schools and ignite student learning. Working in partnership with Knox County Schools, the third largest in the Volunteer State, KEF’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for the transformation of public education to achieve excellent outcomes for all students.