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 Equitable Park Funding Hub highlights six sectors and summarizes grant and technical assistance opportunities under each, including eligibility, park funding use, match requirement, and other important information to help determine if the program is the right fit for a project. It is not intended to be a comprehensive source of funding opportunities but a starting point with examples and links to the various agencies that oversee the programs.
As many 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.
The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on the need for safe, quality parks and on park inequities throughout communities. Now more than ever, high-quality parks and public spaces in disadvantaged communities require creative and wide-ranging partnerships to unlock public and private funding sources. We hope you will find this resource helpful in assisting with your local park funding needs.
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 and The Speedwell Foundation.
EXPLORE PARK FUNDING
Use this tool to filter, sort, and learn about funding opportunities and potential partnerships.
Environmental Justice Small Grants ProgramThis program empowers communities working on solutions to local environmental and public health issues. The program helps communities understand and address exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks. All projects are associated with at least one qualified environmental statute.Learn MoreMatch from other sourcesNot ApplicablePark Funding UseProgrammingEligibility for Accessing FundsNonprofit organizations, tribal governments, tribal organizations
New Markets Tax CreditsNew Markets Tax Credits finance projects that have social and economic benefit for low-income communities, including public housing authorities, schools, and community-based nonprofits. They attract private capital into low-income communities with tax credits in exchange for investments in Community Development Entities (CDEs). They are complex, can be difficult to set up, often have high legal fees, and they need to generate a revenue stream to be viable, but for large projects in low-income communities, tax credits can be a significant source of funding. The park projects funded so far have included parks and recreation centers in Cincinnati, Ohio, Washington, D.C., and Pensacola, Florida. As with all significant investments in low-income communities, existing residents should be involved in the planning and decision-making to ensure they benefit from the investments. Opportunity Zones,1 are a new federal tax incentive to encourage investment in recreation facilities and other park-like properties. However, because they are meant to support businesses (ideally ones that appreciate in value), it may be challenging to use them to directly improve public access to parks and green space. Given the current newness of the program, it’s too early to review their use in practice.Learn MorePark Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance, Programming
Community Development Block GrantsThe US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs) invests in urban communities to increase quality, affordable housing, improve community living environments, and expand economic opportunities. CDBG investments must benefit people of low and moderate incomes. As such, they can be a good source of funding for equitable park investments. Under CDBG, public and nonprofit park leaders need to partner with local community development organizations and the city agency that manages the CDBG funds. Cities must develop a Consolidated Plan that sets local investment priorities and the projects need to meet the priorities outlined in the Consolidated Plan. Because of their flexibility, CDBG funds have been tapped by many park systems. From 2010 through 2018, CDBGs funded nearly $900 million in parks and recreation projects. CDBGs can also provide for maintenance and operations, youth employment, and other park-related investments. The 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act included $5 billion in funds for CDBG, an increase of $1.7 billion over the previous year’s funding.Learn MoreMatch from other sourcesVaries by StatePark Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance, ProgrammingEligibility for Accessing FundsLocal governments