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.

  • Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program

    MVP grants provide financial resources to advance priority climate adaptation actions. Municipalities must apply first for an MVP planning grant. Communities must adhere to MVP core principles, which include engaging communities, particularly Environmental Justice and Climate Vulnerable Populations, and using nature-based solutions to achieve broad and multiple community benefits.
    Typical Grant Amount
    $10,000 - $400,000
    Accessibility of Funds
    Very Accessible
    Match from other sources
    25%
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Local governments
    Learn More
  • Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

    This growing cap-and-trade program is a collaboration of states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. As of 2017, the program raised $4.7 billion to reduce greenhouse gases.Most states invest revenue in the clean-energy economy, but also, increasingly, in urban greening and green infrastructure. A portion of Virginia’s funds will be invested in flood mitigation projects; Massachusetts’ invests some of its funds in bike paths; and New York dedicates a portion of its funds to the Environmental Justice Grant Program, which can be used for greenspace projects in economically disadvantaged communities. Local governments and nonprofits need to contact their state agency for more details on allowed investments.
    Typical Grant Amount
    Varies by State
    Match from other sources
    Varies by State
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Varies by State
    Learn More
  • Massachusetts Community Preservation Act

    The Community Preservation Act (CPA) helps Massachusetts cities preserve the character of their communities. It allows communities to create a local community preservation fund for open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing, and recreation. To date, 177 municipalities in the state have adopted the CPA. Each year, the municipality is required to spend at least 10% of its annual CPA revenues on each category — open space, historic preservation, and affordable housing. The remaining percentage can be used towards any of the funding categories. Over 2,500 parks, playgrounds, and other outdoor recreation projects have been funded by the CPA.The CPA statute also created a statewide Community Preservation Trust Fund, administered by the Department of Revenue, that provides distributions each year to communities that have adopted the CPA. These annual disbursements incentivize communities to pass a CPA.
    Learn More
  • Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

    Using zero taxpayer dollars, the Land and Water Conservation Fund invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to protect land and water for national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges, and to provide matching grants for state and local park and recreation projects. LWCF is administered nationally by the National Park Service within the U.S. Department of the Interior.
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Federal land management agencies
    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