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.
Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration ProgramCo-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.Learn MoreTypical Grant AmountUp to $100,000Accessibility of FundsVery AccessibleMatch from other sources50 to 75%Park Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance
Clean Water State Revolving FundClean 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.Learn MoreTypical Grant AmountVariesAccessibility of FundsVery DifficultMatch from other sourcesVariesPark Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/MaintenanceEligibility for Accessing FundsPublic water and wastewater service provider
Multipurpose GrantsMultipurpose Grants provide funding to carry out a range of eligible planning, community engagement, assessment and cleanup activities with a proposed target area, such as a neighborhood, a number of neighboring towns, a district, a corridor, a shared planning area or a census tract.Learn MoreTypical Grant Amount$500,000 - 1,000,000Accessibility of FundsAccessiblePark Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/MaintenanceEligibility for Accessing FundsNonprofit organizations, local governments and government entities, state governments, tribal governments
General FundA city’s general fund pays for most capital and operating expenses. The revenue comes primarily from property taxes and elected officials allocate the funds to city functions through the annual budget process. Parks and recreation funding can, therefore, vary, influenced by local politics, a city’s economic fortunes and the engagement of citizens in the budget process.Parks and recreation departments are often the first to have their budgets slashed and the last to see them increased. Park advocates and nonprofits play an important role in ensuring consistent funding for parks year to year. Cities with strong nonprofits and organized advocates tend to have the most stable public funding for parks. For more information on making the case for parks and building a strong network of park advocates, see Other Resources below.Park Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/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.