Investing in Equitable Urban Park Systems: Case Studies & Recommendations
City Parks Alliance is leading a national initiative to research, curate, and disseminate innovative strategies and models for funding parks and green infrastructure in low-income communities.
The seven case studies included in this document showcase cities that are leading the way in using data-driven approaches to ensure more equitable distribution of funding. This work is made possible with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Equitable Funding Case Studies
City of Detroit Parks and Recreation
Detroit: Parks & Rec Improvement Plan
Learn about Detroit’s equity-focused park planning team, which used equity data to create an improvement plan for 40 neighborhood parks.
Pittsburgh Park Conservancy, Pittsburgh Parks and Recreation
Pittsburgh: Parks for All
An equitable investment plan was driven by data and coupled with residents’ input and priorities, resulting in the passage of a park tax referendum.
New York City: Framework for an Equitable Future
NYC Parks analyzed capital investment data from the past 20 years and established long-term community partnerships that sustain investment in the city’s parks.
San Francisco Recreation & Parks, San Francisco Parks Alliance
San Francisco: Cal Enviro Screen 3.0
The approval of a park revenue measure drove the development of an equity analysis, which leveraged a statewide open data set provided by the EPA.
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
Philadelphia: Rebuilding Community Infrastructure
Rebuild, funded by a sugary beverage tax, aims to revitalize neighborhood parks, recreation centers, playgrounds, and libraries.
Minneapolis Parks & Recreation
Minneapolis: Community Outreach Department and 20-Year Neighborhood Park Plan
Minneapolis’ Community Outreach Department uses data-driven racial and economic equity criteria to close park funding gaps and distribute funds.
Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District (RPOSD)
LA County: Park Needs Assessment
Learn how a park needs assessment and an engaged community led to the passage of a new tax-based parks measure that provides funds to high-need.
Investing in Equitable Urban Park Systems: Emerging Funding Strategies & Tools
City Parks Alliance is leading a national initiative to research, curate, and disseminate innovative strategies and models for funding parks and green infrastructure in low-income communities. The goal is to elevate replicable strategies that repurpose existing funding, partnerships that offer shared funding opportunities, and models that tap new funding sources. In addition, we are identifying approaches by cities to focus on the equity implications of park investment including community engagement, and transparent, data-driven resource distribution.
We have partnered with the Urban Institute to conduct a research scan of park funding strategies, with a particular focus on understanding how equity relates to funding decisions and how park leaders and communities can capitalize on parks’ many benefits to leverage funding for parks in low-income communities. We have also partnered with Groundwork USA to identify community pre-conditions for using these strategies successfully and ensuring real ownership and health equity gains for long-term residents. The analysis builds on City Parks Alliance’s ongoing research into the equitable resource distribution strategies of urban park and recreation agencies across the county. This work is made possible with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.