Baltimore, MD | February 2020

Park Partnership Engagement

City Parks Alliance began working with Parks & People Foundation (the citywide park nonprofit) and Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (BCRP) in June 2019. CPA staff conducted interviews with a diverse range of stakeholders – community and grassroots groups, nonprofits, city agencies, and others – to better understand the challenges and opportunities related to park partnerships in Baltimore. After synthesizing the key ideas that came out of the interviews and meeting with BCRP, Parks & People Foundation, and other members of a core planning team to discuss these ideas, a workshop was designed over the next 3 months that would address the most pressing challenges and foster dialogue between participants around concrete solutions.

Key Challenges:

BCRP and its park partners had experienced challenges for many years around understanding the roles and responsibilities of the various partners and creating an effective framework for cross-sector partnerships that would allow projects and programs to move forward efficiently and allow them to build a larger network of park advocates and stewards. In addition, stakeholders felt that more could be done to utilize parks to address public safety concerns.


On February 6, 2020, about 70 participants came together to attend the half-day workshop, titled, “Great Parks=Strong Communities in Baltimore.” Guest speakers included Vicki Israel of the City of Los Angeles Parks Department of Parks and Recreation, who spoke about the Summer Night Lights program and how to use parks to improve public safety and neighborhood engagement, and Michael Halicki of Park Pride in Atlanta, who spoke about building a successful citywide parks movement. City Parks Alliance gave an overview of the “Principles of Successful Park Partnerships” from its publication of the same name, and the day closed with a facilitated group discussion about the relevance to Baltimore of the ideas presented, and an action planning session.


BCRP and Parks & People established shared priorities and agreed to work together to redefine roles and responsibilities to better position themselves to grow and build the capacity of park advocates and stewards and to accomplish their shared priorities. BCRP has also agreed to work with a group of nonprofits to pilot the Summer Night Lights program (established in Los Angeles), designed to activate parks in the evening throughout the summer as a violence reduction strategy and a way to build more positive relationships between police and the communities they serve. The action planning group also set a goal of convening a broader coalition of parks-related groups by organizing networking events that foster more frequent dialogue and communication.

Photo Courtesy of Baltimore City Recreation and Parks

Support for this Park Partnership Workshop provided by The JPB Foundation.