|Giancarlo Stanton (right) and Clarke Schmidt play cornhole with children at the Street Lab. Provided by New York Yankees.|
On Friday, the fifth and final day of HOPE Week, the Yankees honored Street Lab, and its co-founders Leslie and Sam Doval. It is a non-profit that creates temporary "pop-up" programs for city streets and public places in New York City, including parks, plazas, and parking lots.
These transportable play spaces are designed for all ages and are meant to be assembled and broken down within hours. With assistance from the NYC Dept. of Transportation and NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation, Street Lab has developed relationships with more than 140 different local groups across New York City for continued and sustainable success.
|Sam and Leslie Davol address the participants in the event. Provided by New York Yankees.|
Yankees players Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, Jose Trevino, Clay Holmes, Clarke Schmidt, Oswaldo Cabrera, Billy McKinney, Rob Marinaccio, Ian Hamilton, and Nick Ramirez, plus third base coach Luis Rojas, surprised and played with local children and teens at Street Lab's open-street event in the Morrisania section of the Bronx.
|Orlando Cabrera played some soccer. Provided by New York Yankees.|
|Ian Hamilton playing basketball with youngsters, as Billy McKinney looks on. Provided by New York Yankees.|
|Clay Holmes watches children play chess. Provided by New York Yankees.|
|Giancarlo Stanton gives a high five. Provided by New York Yankees.|
At the conclusion of the event, the Yankees presented a $10,000 donation to Street Lab to help them continue their impactful work across New York City.
|The Yankees present their donation to Street Labs. Provided by New York Yankees.|
At Yankee Stadium on Friday night, ahead of the Yankees' game against the Chicago Cubs, Street Lab co-founders Leslie and Sam Davol both threw out the ceremonial first pitches.
|Lisa and Sam Davol throwing their first pitches. Provided by New York Yankees.|
Street Lab received the President's Volunteer Service Lifetime Achievement Award in a pregame ceremony, which is given by AmeriCorps.
Yankees Director of Community Outreach Julia Steinbrenner, representing the Yankees Foundation, accepted the President's Volunteer Service Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the New York Yankees.
The awards were presented by AmeriCorps CEO Michael D. Smith. (pictured below)
|Provided by New York Yankees.|
HOPE WEEK HONOREE: STREET LAB
While it's easy to find endless entertainment throughout New York City, this can be a challenge for underserved communities. Street Lab is making this a safe reality by showing how public space can be utilized in our local neighborhoods.
Co-founded by Leslie and Sam Davol, Street Lab is a non-profit that creates temporary "pop-up" programs for city streets and public places in New York City, including parks, plazas, and parking lots. Designed for all ages, these transportable "pop-up" public play spaces are meant to be assembled and broken down within hours.
Mainly financed through donations, city and state grants, and contracts with city agencies, Street Lab's goal is to improve the urban environment, strengthen neighborhoods, and bring New Yorkers together. Street Lab simply goes where they are requested, primarily through groups or organizations that cater to low-income and minority communities, but to also provide a safe space for women and children.
"Our idea is to create installations where people gather in public space," said Sam Davol. "It's also about bringing New Yorkers out from their apartment or from behind the walls and to do things together. It helps to elevate learning in that neighborhood and also provide access to those things where they might not be available."
The concept for Street Lab came to fruition back in 2006 when the Davols were living in Boston after creating a "pop-up" film series and storefront library in their neighborhood. Fast forward to 2011, the family relocated to New York City and launched the Uni Project. The "Uni," which stood for "urban neighborhood institution," consisted of stackable cubes that formed a portable reading center. Each cube held books of a different theme, such as art, music or nature. It debuted at a public market on September 11, 2011, in Lower Manhattan.
As quickly as the demand increased for these "pop-up" public spaces, so did the vision of the Uni Project. Later rebranded to its current name, Street Lab, in 2018, the organization added more "pop-up" programs to their repertoire, such as DRAW (a "pop-up" open-air art studio), BUILD (with "pop-up" interactive building stations), and EXPLORE (a "pop-up" hands-on nature exhibit). Additionally, these portable "pop-ups" featured customized stations made in Street Lab's Red Hook, Brooklyn, studio, using high quality materials that made it easy to transport and assemble.
When the COVID-19 pandemic devastated New York City in 2020, it left many businesses and organizations questioning when normal life could resume. For Street Lab, it presented opportunity. Where was the one place people could collaborate safely while adhering to social distancing guidelines? Outside.
With a full-time staff of six employees and anywhere up to 30 part-time workers, Street Lab provided 353 "pop-ups" in 2022, more than double the number in 2019. With the help of both the NYC Dept. of Transportation and NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Street Lab has developed relationships with more than 140 different local groups for continued and sustainable success. However, the team knows there is still more growth to achieve.
"I want it to fulfill the promise of its name for New York City," said Leslie Davol. "For us all to envision the streets, our public spaces and the streetscape to be the city we want it to be - that supports us living together and connecting New Yorkers."