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 PARK FUNDING
Use this tool to filter, sort, and learn about funding opportunities and potential partnerships.
Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant ProgramThis Illinois grant program “seeds” green infrastructure projects with additional funding for green projects, with an emphasis on urban stormwater. The funds establish green infrastructure best management practices (BMPs) that prevent, eliminate, or reduce water quality impairments by decreasing stormwater runoff into the state’s waterways.Learn MoreTypical Grant AmountUp to $100,000Accessibility of FundsVery DifficultPark Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition
Wastewater and Stormwater Utility RevenueIn many communities, water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities are partnering with park agencies to build green infrastructure in parks to meet their regulatory requirements. Cities, their wastewater and stormwater utilities, and their flood control districts are required to limit stormwater volume and pollutants under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). Water utilities can meet their regulatory requirements, and avoid significant financial penalties, by investing in green infrastructure, gray infrastructure, or some combination of both.Water utilities may prefer investing in green over gray infrastructure. It is often less expensive and offers additional quality of life, environmental, and health benefits, which make it easier for utilities to “sell” necessary ratepayer increases.In order to partner with a water utility on green infrastructure, it is essential to find projects that meet their regulatory requirements and the community’s park and greenspace needs. Other partners that can be critical to building a successful program include school districts, park agencies, departments of the environment, nonprofit land trusts, and park conservancies.Many cities and wastewater utilities operate under an EPA consent decree that establishes clean water milestones to be reached over 20 years in order to avoid financial penalties. Some utilities have negotiated green infrastructure investments in their milestones.Examples of water utilities partnering on park and green infrastructure investments is critical to convincing water utilities it is not only a viable, but an advantageous approach.Typical Grant AmountVariesAccessibility of FundsVery DifficultMatch from other sourcesVariesPark Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/MaintenanceEligibility for Accessing FundsDefined by local government
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.