The Uni Project

Make a place for learning

The Uni Project is our ongoing effort to use pop-up to bring opportunities for learning to the public spaces where at-risk NYC kids gather. When we launched a portable reading room for NYC in 2011, we understood the impact it could could have for kids in low-income neighborhoods who are at risk for “summer slide” and achievement gaps. Thus began our work to transform the street-level environment of the neediest NYC streets with pop-up reading rooms, drawing studios, and more—complete with staff and high quality materials, free for all. The Uni Project brings our best programs to play streets, playgrounds, and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments and aligns our work with citywide initiatives focused on resource equity and community safety.

Supporters of the Uni Project include Shippy Foundation, WellMet Philanthropy, and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, as well as numerous individual donors. Help us make a place for learning. Scroll down to read a letter from the co-founders of the Uni Project, and donate today. Thanks for your support.

Uni Project pop-up reading room

Read an article by co-founder Sam Davol on Medium about the development of the Uni Project. Or watch a short video about our work by CITYzens.

Support the Uni Project

Dear Friends,

In 2019, we created 152 pop-up installations in NYC public space, passing a milestone of 750 since our first outing in 2011. From Times Square to basketball courts at NYCHA public housing, we’re offering new ways to gather around reading, drawing, and learning.

We’re writing to invite you to support a part of our work that holds a special significance for us: reaching at-risk NYC kids with learning experiences on neighborhood streets. If the world was ours to re-make, these kids would be surrounded every day by remarkable books, an ecologist showing them the wings of a bird, an artist introducing watercolor pencils— extraordinary things that let kids be curious, safe, and happy. We can’t re-make the world, but we’ve gotten pretty good at re-making street corners, neglected plazas, and worn down playgrounds into places where all of those things are now happening. Until we can’t anymore, we will go where these kids gather, sharing as much as we can. Make a place for learning.

Scroll down to see highlights from 2019 and goals for 2020, including a plan to dramatically increase our support for NYC play streets, a tradition that temporarily removes cars from the street so kids can play. We hope you’ll consider a tax-deductible contribution, which will directly support our work in low-income communities. We couldn’t do this without you, and we’re grateful for your support.

Leslie and Sam
Co-founders, Street Lab/Uni Project

In 2019…

We supported emerging and recently-renovated public spaces in the Bronx including Fordham Plaza and St. Mary’s Park with month-long residencies of our programs.

We expanded our work across Manhattan to include multi-week residencies in Chinatown.

We expanded our initiative to reach at-risk kids living in NYCHA public housing with a mix of our open-air programs, serving eight developments over the summer.

We launched WRITE NYC, a pop-up public writing room for the streets, stocked with typewriters and other materials for writing.

We collaborated with The Drawing Center to bring a special version of our pop-up art studio to public spaces in West Harlem.

We continued our long-standing partnership with NYC Dept. of Transportation to provide programming at community street festivals in all five boroughs.

We began work on new pop-up infrastructure in collaboration with Buro Koray Duman to bring more programs to the street in 2020.

In 2020…

We’ll double our circuit serving public spaces at NYCHA public housing.

Launch a new initiative to support NYC Play Streets.

Expand our work to develop new designs and programs for the street.

Send a message that all NYC public spaces and New Yorkers have extraordinary potential.
Thank you for your support!

More from our blog…

A year-end letter from the co-founders of the Uni Project

A year-end letter from the co-founders of the Uni Project

Dear Friends of the Uni, We’re writing with news of the Uni Project and to ask for your support. In 2018, we blew past a milestone—600 deployments in public space—and our work continues to expand beyond portable reading rooms. Through it all, we try to...

Making a place for learning at NYC summer play streets

Making a place for learning at NYC summer play streets

The Uni Project has brought learning to NYC play streets since 2013, and this year we deployed our newest program BUILD NYC to play streets at Butler and Forest Houses (NYCHA) hosted by the Police Athletic League (PAL). One of our goals was to work with play street...

About our “new” name… Street Lab.

Street Lab began in Boston in 2006. In 2011, we moved the organization to NYC and launched the Uni Project—a portable reading room for public space. In 2020, we are re-introducing our original name Street Lab to tie all of our work together going forward, with much more to come.