About Us

Developing Programs to Help Youth Thrive

Our Story

Play At The Core

In the fall of 2012, Play At The Core was launched in New York City as a program initiative of the global humanitarian organization, Right To Play. Through foundational partnerships with the New York City Department of Education and the Administration for Children’s Services, Play At The Core offered training and technical assistance aimed at improving teaching practices through play.

Over the course of five years, Play At The Core developed into an innovative, research-based consulting model, empowering dramatic program quality gains among some of New York’s most under-supported youth programs. In early 2018, Play At The Core became an independent youth development consulting organization. To date, Play At The Core has partnered with more than 50 different youth development organizations and 500 practitioners and program leaders, impacting over 10,000 children.

Our Leadership

Jared Carroll, LMSW is a board-certified social worker and youth development specialist, with work spanning the non-profit, education, and mental health fields over the past 15 years.

His experience includes direct practice, program administration, strategic planning, fundraising, and training in program leadership, development, and implementation. With a focus on programs that serve children impacted by trauma, Jared’s mission is to grow a community of change that engages program practitioners, leaders, and youth themselves to overcome the challenges they face. This work is guided by the following core values:

  • Relationships First: Build connections as the starting point and greatest outcome of program work
  • Play as Change: Leverage play as the universal language of ideas, connection, and possibility
  • Lifelong Learning: Cultivate an unending process of development for every individual
  • Whole Child, Whole Community: Ensure program quality for children through equally intentional quality supports for those who nurture them
  • Shift Power: Promote empowerment by honoring voice and choice

Jared began his career in youth development at the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, a world-renowned therapeutic recreation organization for children affected by serious illness. There, he lead both residential and hospital programming before working internationally to develop a series of new initiatives in Latin America. While consulting on these programs, Jared worked as the in-country program director for an educational non-profit in Paraguay. Most recently, he served as US Program Director for Right To Play, before founding Play At The Core. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Boston College and was named an Adaptive Leadership Fellow while receiving a Master’s Degree in Social Work from New York University.

“Jared’s talent lies in his passionate orientation to public service and social justice.  He approaches each project with a deep sense of intentionality and clear focus. He builds consensus and helps people work together for the greater good.  People who work with Jared feel valued and want to contribute to the solution.”

Sherry Cleary
New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute

Our Associates

With extensive experience in program development and leadership, our consulting team draws expertise from their work across the youth program landscape: from early childhood development through college-readiness; sports-based youth development to after school programming; therapeutic recreation to clinical treatment and counseling. Diverse backgrounds in social work, public health, education, and the arts, allow our consultants to bring a blend of innovation, curiosity, and play to our work with partners — inspiring both connection and impact. Interested in becoming a Play At The Core consultant? Contact us to learn more.

“Play At The Core is not only knowledgeable, but an excellent collaborative partner — respecting our existing work, but also bringing a fresh perspective on how to build our capacity. While maintaining their dedication to play, their team is serious about deliverables, timelines, and results. If you’d like a consultant that’s a true teammate and a pro in community-centered social change work, Play At The Core will make you stronger and leave you feeling like you made a wise investment.”

Rebekah Roulier, LMHC
Doc Wayne Youth Services