Equitable Park Funding Hub

The Equitable Park Funding Hub provides easy access to information on a variety of funding sources relevant for parks and recreation in low-income communities and communities of color, and highlights the partnerships required for successful funding.

Parks, trails, and nature support public health, workforce development, local economies, the environment, and community cohesion. And yet historic disinvestment has left many communities with the greatest need with the least access to quality parks and recreation opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation worse and has shined a spotlight on park inequities. Now more than ever, high-quality parks and public spaces in disadvantaged communities require creative and wide-ranging partnerships to unlock local, state, federal, and private funding sources.

As many state and federal funding sources in the Hub are competitive, require match dollars, and often cannot cover maintenance or programming, stable local public funding is essential for a successful and equitable park system. Local funding enables communities to ensure investments promote equitable impacts and address local disparities.

This Hub highlights select federal, state, and local funding programs that can be particularly effective at funding parks and green infrastructure in low-income communities. It is not intended to be a comprehensive source of funding opportunities, but a starting point with examples and case studies.

The Equitable Park Funding Hub is the result of a two-year collaborative research effort between the City Parks Alliance, Groundwork U.S.A., and the Urban Institute. Support for this work was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Explore Equitable Funding Strategies for Parks and Green Infrastructure

The Equitable Park Funding Hub is a living resource intended to be a starting point for researching funding strategies with examples, case studies, and links for further information.

  • Explore each funding area in depth with links below, or use the sorting feature to help you identify the funding sources that may best match your needs.
  • We invite you to help us make this Hub stronger by sharing your experiences applying for, and implementing programs with these funding sources. Share your experience below.

Funding Areas

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Brownfields

Brownfields contribute to blight and prevent reinvestment in economically distressed communities. Transforming them into parks can drive reinvestment and improve community health.

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Climate Resilience

Parks, trees and nature play an important role in cooling neighborhoods and building resilience to natural disasters. Communities of color often lack the greenspace needed to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

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Community Development

Increasingly, community reinvestment efforts are leveraging the benefits of parks to create vibrant, healthy, and livable neighborhoods with access to jobs and affordable housing.

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Conservation Funding

Conservation funding can be used to create equitable access to park and recreation amenities, which is critical to improving the health and quality of life of residents in low-income communities.

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Local Funding

Stable, local public funding is essential for a successful and equitable park system. It is the primary source for critical maintenance, operations and programming.

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Stormwater Management

Parks and green infrastructure enable cities to manage stormwater, clean waterways and reduce flooding through nature-based strategies, reducing the need for expensive investments in pipes and tunnels.

EXPLORE PARK FUNDING

Use this tool to filter, sort, and learn about funding opportunities and potential partnerships.

  • Carbon Reduction Program (CRP)

    The Bipartisan Infrastructure Act established the Carbon Reduction Program (CRP), which provides funds for projects designed to reduce transportation emissions, defined as carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from on-road highway sources. Eligible projects include the construction, planning, and design of on-and off-road trail facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other nonmotorized forms of transportation. This recognizes the important role that trails and active transportation play in addressing and mitigating the climate impacts of the transportation sector, the largest carbon-emitting sector in the U.S. For more detailed information click here.  
    Park Funding Use
    Planning/Capital
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    City and County Governments
  • Transportation Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (TIFIA)

    The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program provides Federal credit assistance in the form of long-term and low-interest direct loans, loan guarantees, and standby lines of credit to finance surface transportation projects. 
    Learn More
  • Thriving Communities Program

    The Department of Transportation created this program to provide technical assistance and capacity building. The program supports communities with planning and project development of transformative infrastructure projects that increase affordable transportation options, enhance economic opportunity, reduce environmental burdens, improve access and quality of life, and provide other benefits to disadvantaged communities.
    Learn More
  • Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ)

    The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program provides funds to States for transportation projects designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality, particularly in areas of the country that do not attain national air quality standards. The program has been a key mechanism for supporting investments that encourage alternatives to driving alone, improve traffic flow, and help urban areas meet air quality goals. Eligible projects include bicycle and pedestrian facilities. 
    Match from other sources
    20% state and local match, typically
    Park Funding Use
    Planning/Capital
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    State departments of transportation, Metropolitan planning organizations, Other eligible project sponsors (can partner with public, private, and nonprofit entities)
    Learn More
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Share Your Experience

This Hub highlights select federal, state, and local funding programs that can be particularly effective at funding parks and green infrastructure in low-income communities. It is not intended to be a comprehensive source of funding opportunities, but a starting point with examples, links to additional information, and case studies.

We invite you to help us make this Hub stronger by sharing your experiences applying for and implementing programs with these funding sources.

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Additional Equitable Funding Research