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.

  • Coastal Resilience Grants

    The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Office for Coastal Management provide grants to improve the resilience of local communities and wildlife habitat in the face of increasingly severe and frequent natural disasters.  These are post-disaster grants for communities impacted by extreme weather events and natural disasters.  The grants support natural and nature-based infrastructure that help with recovery of people and wildlife.  Grants are offered through this program sporadically.  Awards were announced in March, 2020 for 2018 disasters.
    Typical Grant Amount
    $1,000,000 - $3,000,000
    Accessibility of Funds
    Very Difficult
    Match from other sources
    100%
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    State, local and tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions
    Learn More
  • California Natural Resources Agency Urban Greening Grant Program

    One of the largest cap-and-trade funded programs in the country, which specifically supports park investments. California’s Cap-and-Trade Program focuses on reducing emissions from industrial facilities and energy providers, it has an “Offset Program” that invests a portion of funding for urban greening and community forestry programs that reduce or absorb greenhouse gases. Eighty percent of funds go to parks or recreation in critically underserved or disadvantaged communities. Local governments can apply through the California Natural Resources Agency.
    Match from other sources
    Varies by State
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Varies by State
    Learn More
  • Massachusetts Greening the Gateway Cities

    This program reduces household energy use by increasing tree canopy cover in urban residential areas. The program focuses on Environmental Justice neighborhoods with lower tree canopy, older housing, higher winds, and a large renter population. Tree planting crews create workforce development opportunities.
    Match from other sources
    Varies by State
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Varies by State
    Learn More
  • Massachusetts Coastal Resilience Grant Program

    The Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience Grant Program offers financial and technical assistance for natural approaches to mitigate flooding and erosion. The 78 municipalities within Massachusetts’ coastal zone and certified 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations with coastal public property are eligible.
    Typical Grant Amount
    $20,000 - $1,000,000
    Accessibility of Funds
    Very Accessible
    Match from other sources
    25%
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Local governments located in the coastal zone
    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