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.
Zoning StrategiesZoning strategies allow a city to benefit from the real estate industry and use the funds for capital or maintenance projects. Two zoning strategies of interest include: Incentives and bonuses: Offering developers and property owners zoning incentives to incorporate public amenities into their development plans or contribute to a special park endowment or public improvement fund. Transfer of Development Rights: The Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) allows property owners to sell the development rights from their land for use on another. The original site is then protected as an open space under a conservation easement.Park Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance
Development Impact FeesGrowth pays for growth, the saying goes, ant these one-time fees are assessed on residential or commercial development to fund public infrastructure, including parks.Park Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance
Enterprise Funds and Revenue Generating ActivitiesFunding park and recreation programs by revenue-generating activities decreases access to parks and programs for low-income residents. Equitable-access strategies include: Free Park and Recreation Passes for members of households that qualify for TANF and SNAP benefits. Voluntary Fees are suggested donations for use. Those who can afford the donation contribute; those who cannot are not obligated. Scholarships are less effective, because few residents access them and volunteer programs in exchange free access can burden already-stressed families. Programming Fees Charging fees for usage of park programs—skating, golf, fitness centers, camps, concerts—is a common strategy for raising non-tax revenue.Park Funding UseOperations/Maintenance, Programming
Programming FeesCharging fees for usage of park programs—skating, golf, fitness centers, camps, concerts—is a common strategy for raising non-tax revenue.Park Funding UseOperations/Maintenance, Programming
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.