The Imagination Foundation: from a Movie to a Movement

The Imagination Foundation is a non-profit launched from the phenomenal global response of kids, parents, and educators to the "Caine's Arcade" short film. With a mission to find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in kids around the world, our Imagination Foundation seeks to raise a new generation of innovators and problem solvers. 

Watch Caine's Arcade Parts 1 & 2 to see how a movie launched our movement, and read our story below:

Caine's Arcade (Part 1)

Caine's Arcade (Part 2): From a Movie to a Movement

Our Story

On the last day of summer, filmmaker Nirvan Mullick went to buy a door handle for his '96 Corolla. He pulled into a random auto parts store in Boyle Heights where he met 9 year old Caine Monroy, who had taken over the front of his dad's store with an elaborate arcade made from recycled cardboard boxes. Caine asked Nirvan to play, offering 4 turns for $1, or 500 turns for a $2 Funpass. Nirvan bought the Funpass. 

Nirvan became Caine's first (and only) customer. Inspired by Caine’s creativity, Nirvan decided to make a short film about Caine's Arcade, and organized a flashmob to surprise Caine with customers. Hundreds of people showed up to surprise Caine while cheering "We Came to Play!" That evening, Caine told his dad that that was the best day of his whole life. 

Nirvan posted "Caine’s Arcade" online on April 9th of 2012, and it became an instant global phenomenon. The film received over 1 million views the first day, trended on twitter worldwide, and has since raised over $235,000 for a Scholarship Fund for Caine. Thousands of people have since travelled to visit and play Caine's Arcade. The film also inspired a wave of cardboard creativity in kids and educators across the globe.

Inspired by the response to the film, and with the help of a generous grant from the Goldhirsh Foundation, the Imagination Foundation was formed to find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in kids everywhere.

Watch “Caine’s Arcade 2: From a Movie to a Movement” which chronicles our beginning; within 5 months of launching, over 100 schools in 9 countries participated in our School Pilot Program and over 270 Global Cardboard Challenge events were organized in 41 countries, culminating in a Day of Play on Oct 6th, 2013 (celebrating the one year anniversary of the surprise flashmob that made Caine's day).

In December of 2012, our Foundation brought on Mike McGalliard as our Executive Director. We continue to build a great Board of Directors, develop programs to foster creativity in kids, and form partnerships to build this movement of creativity and imagination.

Our Story continues to unfold. Our next goal is to engage 1 Million Kids in 70 Countries in creative play through our Global Cardboard Challenge. Help bring this movement to kids in your community: www.CardboardChallenge.com


Our Mission

The mission of the Imagination Foundation is to find, foster and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in children around the world to raise a new generation of innovators and problem solvers who have the tools they need to build the world they imagine.

We envision a world in which creativity is a core social value and a critical skill developed in every child; where the innate passion, curiosity and creativity of children is nurtured in schools, homes and communities everywhere; where all children are taught to be creative thinkers and doers, and encouraged to make their very best ideas happen in the world.

Please visit our Goals and Programs to learn more.

"One of the greatest challenges I think we face in education is tapping into children's natural power of creativity, and one of the appeals of 'Caine's Arcade' is its demonstrating how deep those powers are and how readily people will rise to the challenge if you give it to them." - Sir Ken Robinson

Donate to support the Imagination Foundation's programs with a tax-deductible donation.


"The kids who are building and sharing their own cardboard creations can instantly see themselves as part of a real movement.” -MacArthur Foundation