INVESTING IN CITY PARKS
Easy access to parks, green spaces, and recreation opportunities is critical to the well-being of urban communities. From improving the health and wellness of residents to creating a healthier physical environment, city parks are vital to helping America’s cities thrive and remain competitive. Yet funding for these public assets is not meeting the growing demand.
City Parks Alliance advocates and develops policies for greater federal investment in city parks, is at the forefront of identifying new funding sources and strategies to ensure equitable allocation of park funding throughout cities, and highlights grant opportunities that leaders can access to support their local parks.
The Great American Outdoors Act
On August 4, 2020 the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law. The bill provides $900 million in permanent and dedicated annual funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and invests up to $9.5 billion to address priority repairs in our national parks and other public lands.
Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program
The Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) Program, created in 2014, is an urban park grants program funded through the Land & Water Conservation Fund. The ORLP offers nationally competitive grants to support the creation or significant renovation of state or locally-owned parks and other outdoor recreation spaces located in urban areas. Funded projects help the public access or re-connect with the outdoors, and specifically target economically disadvantaged neighborhoods that lack adequate parks and recreational opportunities.
The fifth application round with $150 million available is now closed. Projects serve densely populated Urban Areas as defined by the Census Bureau (populations of 50,000 or more). Grants range from $300,000 to $5,000,000. The ORLP is run through the state LWCF lead agencies. The National Park Service hopes to announce the fifth-round awardees by spring of 2022.
Learn more about this grant:
- Watch our ORLP Program technical assistance webinar
- View a webinar recording overview of the program
- Read the announcement from the Department of Interior
- Notice of Funding Opportunity from the National Park Service
Land and Water Conservation Fund
Created in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is one of the most effective, bipartisan funding programs for parks today supporting more than 44,000 projects in 98% of the nation’s counties. The LWCF is funded through revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling royalties, a portion of which is matched by state and local contributions – increasing the return on investment without using federal tax dollars. LWCF funds leverage private investment, spurs economic development and tourism, and provides close-to-home recreational opportunities.
Parks as Infrastructure
Parks, by their nature provide dual infrastructure benefits in cities. With growing urban populations and aging infrastructure, local governments and their city planners are taking a fresh look at parks as a wise investment of municipal resources to address our greatest urban challenges—from stormwater management and reducing public health costs to economic revitalization and job growth. Investing in parks and green infrastructure in cities improves resilience, drives private investment, and helps American cities remain competitive.
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.
CITY PARKS – A SMART INVESTMENT FOR AMERICA’S HEALTH, ECONOMY & ENVIRONMENT | CASE STUDIES
We’ve compiled stories and strategies from 11 American cities who have leveraged city parks to create positive, lasting change in the social, economic, and physical well-being of their residents.