As the world’s largest toy company, Mattel is the expert in play and we believe play is fundamental to learning and development at all ages. We believe all children have a right to the time, place, tools and an advocate for play in their lives.
Unfortunately, we know not all children have access to play. That’s why Mattel focuses our social impact activities on breaking down the barriers to play by leveraging the collective power of our global resources. Through funding, our dedicated employee volunteers, toy donations, cause marketing campaigns and community partners, Mattel is committed to dedicating 2 percent of its pretax profit to making a difference in the lives of children in need.
How We Play
At Mattel, we are committed to maximizing our social impact by focusing on how we can bring play to children in need around the world. Through extensive research, we have identified four barriers to play. Mattel’s social impact efforts are now built around these four core areas:
Time to Play
In today’s world, no matter where children live, their socioeconomic status or their cultural environment, many different things compete for their time. Mattel is committed to supporting efforts that incorporate play into the various activities that make up a child’s day, including the school environment where play has a key role in the learning process.
Play as a Tool in Schools
Playworks is a school-based nonprofit organization that builds play programming into the daily curriculum, with proven results for underserved elementary school students across the U.S. Mattel’s support has enabled Playworks to expand its commitment to providing safe, healthy and inclusive play in school settings. The partnership supports the Playworks Junior Coach program, where student-led play activities result in fair play, conflict resolution and success in the classroom. Mattel has also supported Playworks to pilot its model internationally, such as in Indonesia where Mattel manufacturing employees were trained with the skills to bring healthy, inclusive play to schools in their communities.
Bringing Play to Children with Special Needs
In Athens, Greece, Mattel partnered with a unique charitable neighbor that provides residential services to children with social, emotional and physical disabilities. Local Mattel employees volunteer their time to create weekly play sessions for the young residents through new programming funded by the Mattel Children’s Foundation. In addition, Mattel employees transformed an area of the facility into a playful activity center, painting walls and adding fun design elements that have resulted in smiles, laughter and much-needed joy.
Place to Play
Children need a safe and well-equipped place to enjoy play experiences. Whether it be access to a local playground or a cleared space on the carpet, providing a setting conducive to allowing a child to play is crucial.
Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA
Mattel and Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA forged a valuable partnership in 1998 to support the lifesaving work of the hospital’s team of physicians and staff, benefitting thousands of children every year. Beyond financial support, Mattel creates joy by providing thousands of toys annually to patients and their families, and Mattel employees give hundreds of volunteer hours in support of various events and activities. In addition, Mattel designers and employees led an effort to transform the walls of the newly-built hospital into a creative and inspiring play environment. Together with Blik Design/Build, murals of an intricate castle, an undersea adventure and a fantasy forest were installed with seemingly-new detail at every glance. Staff feedback reveals the playful murals have made a noticeable difference for patients and their families, and the project has served as a benchmark to others.
Play Centers in Urban Favelas in Brazil
To deliver play experiences to 6,500 children in Brazil, Mattel is working with more than 20 charitable organizations and schools to create nearly 100 play spaces for underserved children in urban centers. Mattel is providing play kits to not only facilitate play but also as training for the teachers on how they can use play techniques specifically linked to child development.
Supporting Schools in Our Global Community
Schools that serve the communities where Mattel operates around the world are a special priority for our outreach and engagement activities. During the last several years, Mattel has supported the construction and refurbishment of schools in both urban and rural communities.
In Bangkok, employee volunteers from our Hot Wheels facility refurbished an elementary school in a remote village, from new paint to making much-needed structural repairs. The community’s children now have a modernized learning environment filled with new books and other learning tools.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Mattel plant in Indonesia, the Mattel Children’s Foundation provided funding to build its 12th school in the local community near the manufacturing plant. Mattel volunteers continue to volunteer and provide school supplies.
Tools to Play
Play that links to developmental milestones can benefit from tools or resources that spark imagination and facilitate interaction, or further growth. One of the most important tools to facilitate play is a toy; however, many underserved children around the world, as well as those experiencing unfortunate circumstances, don’t have immediate access to toys. Through Mattel’s toy donation program, we are able to give instant joy to these children and provide a beneficial play experience.
Learn more about Mattel’s Toy Donations Program here
In a new strategic shift to support disaster preparedness and relationships with first-responder organizations, Mattel and the Mattel Children’s Foundation made a total cash donation of $750,000 for multi-year disaster support to Save the Children and the American Red Cross. This groundbreaking initiative enables Mattel to have a significant impact on disaster relief much earlier in the process. Mattel also provides thousands of toys to our partners in times of disaster, including toys in safe space shelters to be used to provide “normalcy” to children in times of a disaster.
The Healing Power of Play
Partnering with the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), Mattel supports access to play experiences for hospitalized children. For too many children, this can be an extensive period of time and play has been documented as a beneficial part of the healing process. Annually, Mattel donates more than 100,000 toys to children’s hospitals around the world, including more than 200 children’s hospitals through CHA and our long-standing partner, Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA.
Advocate for Play
Ensuring children have an advocate for play in their lives allows for play to be part of their childhood and development. Through volunteer efforts and highly visible, strategic partnerships and programs, Mattel is able to help mitigate the negative impact the absence of play can have on a child’s life. Changing global perceptions of play from a frivolous pastime to a required milestone of childhood development is a key driver of Mattel’s advocacy efforts.
Mattel Play Research Grants
In 2010, Mattel awarded Play Research Grants to fund the further exploration of play. Awarded to four academic institutions, the grants focused on the benefits of play and its link to children’s cognitive, emotional and social development. The results of the research will help advance the understanding of play and its link to creative thinking, problem solving and the development of language, social and cognitive skills.
Grant recipient institutions: Claremont Graduate University, Temple University, University of California Los Angeles and Wesleyan University.
The Mattel Children's Foundation was established in 1978 and is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children in need. The foundation is a separate charitable organization incorporated as a nonprofit public benefit corporation and funded exclusively with an annual donation made by Mattel, Inc. Through strategic grantmaking, the Mattel Children's Foundation has developed partnerships with exemplary nonprofit partners that demonstrate this ideal through both compassionate outreach to children and strong financial accountability.
For more than 30 years, the Mattel Children's Foundation has supported thousands of charitable organizations and positively impacted millions of children. The foundation has funded new technologies, after-school activities, literacy projects and programs to promote the health of children around the world. Mattel continues that commitment today with funding to local, global and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
Through the years, the Mattel Children’s Foundation has supported a variety of programs focused around its vision of “making a meaningful difference, one child at a time.” Some of those programs have included:
- Mattel Family Learning Programs: Computer learning labs for underserved children in the US, Hong Kong, Mexico and Canada.
- Helping Kids Grow: Supporting mobile clinics to provide preventive healthcare to low-income children.
- Hand in Hand: Supporting partnerships of parents, schools and communities.
The foundation is driven by the belief that play is essential for all children because it is fundamental to development and learning but millions of children lack access to play. Currently, the foundation is dedicated to supporting nonprofit organizations around the world that make a meaningful difference in the lives of children, and with an emphasis on programs that support or enhance the opportunity for children to play.
The Mattel Children’s Foundation's current grantmaking programs include:
- Domestic Grantmaking supporting healthy lives and active play, literacy, girls’ empowerment and creating joy for children in need.
- International Grantmaking impacting children in need in 30 countries.
- Matching Gifts for Mattel employees in support of youth-focused charities and disaster relief.
- Scholarships to children of Mattel employees in 13 countries.