Magical Bridge Playground faces funding crunch

Accessible playground's boosters hoping to fill $1 million gap ahead of April deadline

The fundraising drive for the Magical Bridge Playground in Mountain View is facing a heightened sense of urgency as the deadline for the project's grant funding approaches. Boosters say they have less than two months left to close a $1 million funding gap or else the scope of Mountain View's playground will need to be downsized.

Slated to open in 2021 at Rengstorff Park, Mountain View's Magical Bridge Playground has already drawn huge interest among families and community leaders. The playground style is designed to accommodate as many children as possible, regardless of physical, cognitive or sensory ability. For that reason, the playground has been championed by parents of special-needs children seeking a new inclusive play area.

For nearly a year and a half, the Magical Bridge Foundation and its corps of volunteers have been collecting donations toward the estimated $4.5 million cost of the playground. As of this week, organizers say they still remain far from that goal, having raised only $3.5 million. Of the money raised, $1.7 million came from a Santa Clara County grant, $1 million was provided by the city of Mountain View, and about $818,000 came from local companies and foundations. About $118,000 was raised through individual donations, including a student coin drive at local elementary schools.

Some of the money raised from the playground requires it to open to the public no later than 2021, said Jill Asher, Magical Bridge co-founder.

For that reason, the playground must go into the design phase within the next weeks, she said. By that point, the playground designers will need to know whether they can afford the original scope of the project, or if they’ll need to cut costs. That might mean eliminating some of the playground’s specially designed zones, or making the structure smaller in size.

“We’ll either have find a way to get this money, or we’ll have to do a $3.5 million playground,” Asher said. “It will still be wonderful, but it won’t be as good.”

The frustration being felt by the playground advocates was on full display at last week's Mountain View City Council meeting. Magical Bridge board chair Joyce Reynolds-Sinclair pressed the city to help bridge the funding gap before what she described as an April 1 deadline. Reynolds-Sinclair pointed out that Morgan Hill and Sunnyvale had contributed about twice as much as Mountain View toward building their own Magical Bridge playgrounds.

"Mountain View has not yet allocated its fair share," she said. "We're only asking for parity from Mountain View in support of this project, which helps vulnerable populations."

The comments did not elicit any response from the City Council, at least in public. Multiple city leaders later told the nonprofit they were not pleased with the sudden pleas for more money.

Speaking on Friday, Asher walked back those comments from her board chair, saying it was not their intention to badger the city into providing the money. She explained that corporate fundraising in Mountain View turned out to be much more challenging than expected. Asher also later clarified that the group hopes to move into the design phase by late May.

“I don’t want people to feel discouraged,” she said. “If we had to go into design today, we still be able to do it, and it would be magical.”

More information about the Magical Bridge Foundation can be found on the group's webpage.

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10 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 5, 2019 at 10:53 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

5 people like this
Posted by BDBD
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 5, 2019 at 10:59 am

BDBD is a registered user.

If anyone wants to donate, here is the link:

8 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of North Bayshore
on Mar 5, 2019 at 11:11 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

5 people like this
Posted by Mountain View Mom
a resident of Gemello
on Mar 5, 2019 at 11:55 am

I do hope the community can come together to get this playground funded. We love the Palo Alto one, and having our own Magical Bridge playground next door to our neighborhood would mean so much to our family. I made a donation a while back and my company matched it...

24 people like this
Posted by Jill Asher and Olenka Villarreal from Magical Bridge Foundation
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2019 at 12:02 pm

To our friends and community members in Mountain View.

We are the co-founders and co-executive directors of Magical Bridge Foundation and want to thank every city council member, foundation, community member, and high tech company that has supported our community project. From the school kids who collected pennies, nickels dimes and quarters, to the high tech companies, Santa Clara County grant, and foundations. Every donation matters and is appreciated.

A few corrections to this article which we want you to be aware of.....

Magical Bridge Foundation has been raising funds for this project for just over a year (not a year and a half).

We plan to move into design phase later this spring -- there is no April deadline, though we'd like to have the remaining funds identified soon, as the design phase and construction phase takes time.

We also want to make it crystal clear that our intent is not to plead with or badger anyone. If the funds can be identified, that would be MOST MAGICAL and will truly benefit every single person, regardless of ability, disability, size or age in Mountain View, and beyond. If not, we will build to a smaller size and scale -- and IT WILL BE MAGICAL.

If your organization, nonprofit, community group, neighborhood association, religious institution, foundation or high tech company is interested in learning more, PLEASE CONTACT ME (Jill Asher) at

Finally, please know how grateful we are to be partnering with the city of Mountain View and bringing this project to life. Mountain View has an amazing city team, park, and recreation department and stellar leadership who all want to give EVERYONE in Mountain View a place to play. We promise it will be a place that YOU will feel wonderful about.

With gratitude,
Jill Asher and Olenka Villarreal and TEAM MAGICAL BRIDGE
Co-founders, Magical Bridge Foundation

If you would like to support the project at any level, kindly give here: Web Link

8 people like this
Posted by mrs_m
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Mar 5, 2019 at 2:08 pm

mrs_m is a registered user.

This is going to be a wonderful playground. If you can find a way to donate that would be great. And be sure to check if your company will match the gift.

20 people like this
Posted by Googler
a resident of North Bayshore
on Mar 5, 2019 at 2:20 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

18 people like this
Posted by Mike94040
a resident of Gemello
on Mar 5, 2019 at 2:27 pm

Mike94040 is a registered user.

It is somewhat ironic that in almost every community where Magical Bridge is building, there has been at least one $1 million private sector donor, but alas, not in Mountain View, home of one of the most valuable companies on earth.

10 people like this
Posted by Phil
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2019 at 3:37 pm

Just saw this article and donated. This park will be an amazing addition to our city and community. Spread the word!

15 people like this
Posted by Love my city
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 5, 2019 at 4:46 pm

I am so disappointed in Google. How is it that they have
So little corporate responsibility to a city they have
taken over. Shameful.

6 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2019 at 5:06 pm

Unfortunately the ducks were not in a row on this project. The Rotary Play Garden in San Jose is an excellent example of fundraising, management and stewardship.
The community there really enjoys the fruits of all that hard work.

11 people like this
Posted by Googlet
a resident of North Bayshore
on Mar 5, 2019 at 5:15 pm

Since reading, i’ve been thinking about some of our larger Mountain View. While I am asking my employer (Google) to give more,what about the other larger employers in Mountain View? Here are some of other companies that should be giving.

Applied Materials

What companies are missing from my list?

Thank you LinkefIn for your donation.

Come on high tech companies. Step up and give back to the local community.

6 people like this
Posted by Mary R Mcdermith
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 5, 2019 at 5:30 pm

I’m ashamed of our corps and their filthy rich billion to trillion dollar fortunes. I’m an old lady 78 yrs on SS and I give a much higher percent of my very limited income to try to make the world and my neighborhood a better place. Have you sent in an application to Bill Gates Charitable Fund? If not do so, I think that is where their donations come from..

6 people like this
Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2019 at 5:42 pm

I believe that MV residents and corporations will come together to make this happen in partnership with the Magical Bridge Foundation. And thank you to everyone who reached out to their employers asking for matching funds or greater support!

8 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2019 at 7:59 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

5 people like this
Posted by MBPmv Supporter
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 5, 2019 at 8:45 pm

Mountain View needs to have a fully accessible and fully impactful Magical Bridge Playground (MBP) ... I hope many others will step-up and make the additional donations needed for a full MBP in Mountain View!

5 people like this
Posted by Slater resident
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 5, 2019 at 9:21 pm

I really love how our community is getting together to make this amazing project become a reality in Mountain View. I have seen kids gathering coins last year in every neighborhood, and getting the feeling that they were getting a “piece” of the Magical Bridge thanks to their hard work. I see a place where everyone regardless of their age, abilities or income have a wonderful experience. I can’t wait to go to our own Magical Bridge, and listen to the children playing music under the Musical Arch.
Thank you to all contributors (past and future)

5 people like this
Posted by Lisa
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2019 at 9:32 pm

I hope to see Magical Bridge Playground in Mountain View. It is more than a playground. It is the most thoughtfully layed out and imaginative playground. It provides a kind, safe, inclusive space for kids, adults, and families to join together as a community and feel like they belong. I’ve been to the Palo Alto location and especially enjoy the archway that produces calming melodic sounds when you wave your arm in the air. Or the joy of seeing a wheelchair accessible merry-go-round so all kids can enjoy the ride. I hope the surrounding corporations and community can see the value that MB can bring to Mountain View and can provide the funds that are needed.

4 people like this
Posted by Anne
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 5, 2019 at 10:35 pm

As a mom with a disability who has a very active son I can't tell you how important this playground is. My closest park is Cuesta and it is not easy for me to navigate. I sink into the bark and my son takes off across the park. A lack of accessible playground keeps our community from being fully inclusive and open to all. Everyone deserves a place to play and community interaction builds a lifetime of social and emotional skills. An infrastructure project like this will have a tremendous impact on our community and will fit with the design of the new community center. If everyone could donate and get a corporate match I am sure we would quickly bridge the gap. Let's do this while we are still in a boom before we hit our next down cycle.

5 people like this
Posted by Cynthia Greer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2019 at 11:11 pm

With huge thanks to the Magical Bridge team for working hard to bring this playground to our town and our family cannot wait to see it in our community. My kids are 8, 13 and 17 and they all still love to go to the Palo Alto park. How amazing to get them off their cell phones for a while and see them PLAY! Please spread the word and let's make this happen. To say this park is magical is exactly right and we are thrilled it's on its way.

Thank you city of Mountain View leaders for making this happen.

8 people like this
Posted by Dad from Palo Alto
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2019 at 10:35 am

Our family plays at Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto on a regular basis and our eldest son has a disability. I can’t tell you how important it is for our family to have such a wonderful, accessible and inclusive place to play that it is in our community.

I appreciate the level of thoughtfulness that the team at Magical Bridge Foundation has puts into their designs so that not just wheelchair users, but people with a wide variety of other challenges can enjoy play just like everyone else. We are friends and acquaintances numerous of families for whom Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto makes a huge difference and we hope that families in Mountain View will get to enjoy a Magical Bridge that has a similar scope.

What is very special about Magical Bridge is that it isn’t just a playground for those with disabilities, but it is a place for everyone to play together. This is what a friend of ours who is a dad of 3 typical children who donated $5k anonymously to Magical Bridge Foundation has to say about the Palo Alto Magical Bridge:

“I have 3 kids, and all of them love it. We are there almost every weekend. I am from Serbia, and we have a culture of spending a lot of time in parks. I've found most of Palo Alto parks not very interesting, empty with sports fields. Magical Bridge feels like one of the parks I grew
up with. And what is amazing, it looks like I am not the only one who feels this way, there are always so many kids there.”

It’s may be difficult for some to understand why a highly inclusive playground project like Magical Bridge requires so much financial resource. The materials and equipment to make a mindfully designed place where everyone can play are expensive in part because not every community is willing to make the investment in a playground which is truly INCLUSIVE. They are willing to accept playgrounds that are generic and meet just the minimal standard of accessibility that is required by law.

I hope that local corporations and philanthropists do the right thing and contribute generously to this project that will do so much to improve the quality of life in Mountain View.

Like this comment
Posted by Your audience
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 6, 2019 at 11:58 am

Assure us that inclusive includes residents in RVs and non-citizens. Then beg for my dollars. Otherwise it sounds like just a nice playground that people will then require a buffer around.

4 people like this
Posted by SWAN Mom
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 6, 2019 at 5:19 pm

We love the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto. I guess everyone else does too because it get super crowded. I am really looking forward to seeing one Mountain View! Thank you Magical Bridge Foundation and all donors large and small!

6 people like this
Posted by Holly
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2019 at 9:01 pm

We raised our children in Mountain View for their first 8 years, and now live in Menlo Park. We are very impressed with Magical Bridge and the impact it has on our community. It is hard to put in to words what it is like to be at Magical Bridge. You will see people of all ages, all abilities, all enjoying the space together. As a family with a child with a disability, we know how special this is, not only for the equipment and design, but also for the spirit and community that such an inclusive space offers. I once heard an amazing speech about how in the future, people will look for places to move to, and companies will look for places to invest in, based on how inclusive the communities are to all people, especially to people with disabilities. Magical Bridge is a wonderful, tangible step in that direction. We love Mountain View, and we love that there is such a wonderful spirit of collaboration to bring this amazing park to Mountain View. Thank you to all the leaders: Magical Bridge leaders, industry leaders, and community leaders as well as youth Kindness Ambassadors, who are making this wonderful dream come true.

3 people like this
Posted by Christine C
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 7, 2019 at 5:53 pm

This park will be an amazing part of our community, where all children, regardless of "disability" can have fun together. I look forward to leading field trips there from my daughter's school, and hanging out whenever possible. I've made a donation myself, written in support, and I really, truly hope, that local companies realize that this is a benefit to our community, and a benefit to their employees and their families. Please open your hearts and donate! Thank you

3 people like this
Posted by Annie S
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 7, 2019 at 7:27 pm

I know that whatever size Magical Bridge Park MV is able to afford will be absolutely wonderful. That said, I do hope our community, including businesses in our community step up to ensure we can have the "most magical" playground possible! My children have played at the Magical Bridge playground in Palo Alto since its opening. I do hope we will come together to create such a wonderful inclusive space for the community of MV too!

2 people like this
Posted by Love it!
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2019 at 9:04 am

We love thr MB playground in PA!

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