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.

  • Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program

    Co-sponsors, the EPA and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, work to develop community capacity with modest financial and technical assistance to diverse local partnerships for urban restoration and education programs. Streambank and shoreline stabilization, stormwater management, urban tree canopy restoration, and projects to prevent trash in waterways are just a few of the projects awarded grants. The grants are administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's (NFWF) Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program.
    Typical Grant Amount
    Up to $100,000
    Accessibility of Funds
    Very Accessible
    Match from other sources
    50 to 75%
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance
    Learn More
  • Clean Water State Revolving Fund

    Clean Water State Revolving Funds provide low-interest loans for water infrastructure and management projects. Beginning with The American Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009, Congress requires all CWSRF programs to use a portion of their federal grant for green infrastructure projects, water and energy efficiency, or other environmentally innovative activities, called the Green Project Reserve. The EPA issued a policy encouraging states to prioritize green infrastructure in their CWSRF programs in 2016. Although it is a loan program, CWSRF has the flexibility for debt purchasing or refinancing, loan guarantees and insurance to increase access to private credit markets or to lower borrowing costs. States can also reward high-priority projects with incentives, including subsidies. Some states have built-in priority points for green infrastructure, including Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, New Hampshire, Maryland, and New Mexico. Several states have opted to provide principal forgiveness, negative interest loans, and grants. The EPA reported that from 2009 to 2015, states provided more than $70 million in additional subsidization for green infrastructure projects.
    Typical Grant Amount
    Varies
    Accessibility of Funds
    Very Difficult
    Match from other sources
    Varies
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Public water and wastewater service provider
    Learn More
  • New York Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC)

    The Green Innovation Grant Program (GIGP) supports unique stormwater infrastructure designs with financial assistance, technical support, and administrative guidance. Selected projects maximize the many benefits of green infrastructure, spur innovation in stormwater management, build capacity, and speed adoption of new technologies and practices. Recipients receive a grant for up to 90 percent of their construction costs (including eligible planning and design). New York State EFC also has the Integrated Solutions Construction Grant Program for incorporating green infrastructure into Clean Water State Revolving Fund projects.
    Typical Grant Amount
    Over $1,000,000
    Accessibility of Funds
    Very Accessible
    Match from other sources
    10%
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition
    Learn More
  • Maryland Green Streets, Green Towns, Green Jobs Initiative

    A joint initiative of the US EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Trust that supports design projects, financing strategies, and implementation of green street projects. This grant program helps communities reduce stormwater runoff, increase the number and amount of green spaces in urban areas, improve the health of local streams and the Chesapeake Bay, and enhance quality of life and community livability. In particular, the G3 Partnership supports local, grassroots-level greening efforts in urbanized watersheds
    Typical Grant Amount
    Up to $100,000
    Accessibility of Funds
    Very Difficult
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition
    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