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The Imagination Foundation

Last summer, nine-year-old Caine Monroy of Los Angeles, Calif. spent hours of hard work putting together one of the best, most successful arcades in the world. All he needed was some cardboard and some tape.

Nestled inside his father’s auto parts store in the eastern part of the city, the venue failed to take off – that is, until Nirvan Mullick came into the store one day and saw the arcade.

What ensued is a 11-minute documentary titled “Caine’s Arcade,” telling the story of the father-son Monroy unit and including a flash mob cobbled together to help draw attention to Caine’s work.

When the clip was posted on YouTube and Vimeo three months ago, it almost immediately went viral with over seven million views online and over 122,800 likes on a corresponding Facebook page.

According to Mullick, reaction to the film was a bit staggering.

“We’ve been getting thousands and thousands of emails per day,” Mullick said. “The initial goal was to raise $25,000 for Caine’s Scholarship Fund, and the first day we raised $100,000. Over $212,000 has been raised so far."

Now, much like Six Flags or many other amusement franchises, Caine’s Arcade is going international.

Over 100 schools in nine countries have created their own cardboard arcades with project-based curriculum kits based on Caine’s Arcade, with Mullick pointing out works in West Virginia and Australia as the most notable.

“There’s an activity kit used by a teacher in West Virginia being used to teach 1,500 homeless kids,” Mullick said. “There’s 58,000 kids in Australia that are going to be building cardboard arcades as part of the effort.”

The second of three goals for the Caine’s Arcade effort is the Cardboard Challenge, in which anyone interested can acquire a kit and host an event as part of the first-ever Global Day of Play Oct. 6.

The events will serve as an official launch for the Imagination Foundation, which – according to the charity’s website – will “find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in kids.”

“(Participants can) build something out of cardboard, whether it’s an arcade or a rocketship,” Mullick said. “On one day in October, people can find these events and just come together as a community.”

The Imagination Foundation will be funded via a dollar-for-dollar matching donation (up to $250,000) from the Goldhirsh Foundation. For every dollar donated to Caine’s Scholarship Fund, a dollar is donated to the Imagination Foundation by Goldhirsch's matching grant.

This time, the folks behind Caine’s Arcade won’t be able to do it alone. Volunteers are needed.

“This could not be done without the support of the community and the volunteers,” Mullick said. “Making the film …  was a very volunteer effort, not just from friends but strangers coming together. We have volunteer coordinators, we have volunteer organizers. We’ve had schools come out and volunteer. We’ve had the Rotary Club come out and volunteer. We’re starting to set field organizers for the Global Day of Play. It’s been a real grassroots effort.”

If interested in volunteering, contact information for the Imagination Foundation can be found at cainesarcade.com/thefoundation. The charity is also on Facebook (/imaginationfoundation) and Twitter (@imagination).