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.

  • Carbon Reduction Program (CRP)

    The Bipartisan Infrastructure Act established the Carbon Reduction Program (CRP), which provides funds for projects designed to reduce transportation emissions, defined as carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from on-road highway sources. Eligible projects include the construction, planning, and design of on-and off-road trail facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other nonmotorized forms of transportation. This recognizes the important role that trails and active transportation play in addressing and mitigating the climate impacts of the transportation sector, the largest carbon-emitting sector in the U.S. For more detailed information click here.  
    Park Funding Use
    Planning/Capital
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    City and County Governments
  • Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ)

    The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program provides funds to States for transportation projects designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality, particularly in areas of the country that do not attain national air quality standards. The program has been a key mechanism for supporting investments that encourage alternatives to driving alone, improve traffic flow, and help urban areas meet air quality goals. Eligible projects include bicycle and pedestrian facilities. 
    Match from other sources
    20% state and local match, typically
    Park Funding Use
    Planning/Capital
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    State departments of transportation, Metropolitan planning organizations, Other eligible project sponsors (can partner with public, private, and nonprofit entities)
    Learn More
  • Transportation Alternatives (TA) Set-Aside

    The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continued the Transportation Alternatives set-aside from the Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) program. The Transportation Alternatives (TA) program is the nation’s largest dedicated source of funding for trail and active transportation projects. It provides federal funds for a variety of generally smaller-scale transportation projects such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities; construction of overlooks, and viewing areas; community improvements such as historic preservation and vegetation management; environmental mitigation related to stormwater and habitat connectivity; recreational trails; safe routes to school projects; and vulnerable road user safety assessments.
    Match from other sources
    20% state or local match
    Park Funding Use
    Planning/Capital
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Local governments, Regional transportation authorities, Transit agencies, Natural resource or public land agencies, School districts, local education agencies, schools, Tribal governments, Nonprofit organizations, Other local or regional government entities
    Learn More
  • Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program (RCP)

    According to estimates from the U.S. Department of Transportation, highway construction has displaced more than 475,000 households and more than a million people. Highways across the country have cut through neighborhoods, disrupted the pedestrian landscape, worsened air quality, and lowered property values. During this time, impacted communities have suffered lost homes, small businesses, and places to gather. The impacted neighborhoods were largely racial minority and/or low-income communities.   The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included $1 billion towards the new Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program designed to remove, retrofit, or mitigate eligible facilities, restoring community connectivity, and improving people’s lives. The RCP Program will also provide technical assistance and capacity building support through the Reconnecting Communities Institute.
    Match from other sources
    Planning Grants - 20% state or local match Capital Construction Grants – RCP grant-share is 50% maximum, total federal cost share is 80% maximum
    Park Funding Use
    Planning/Capital
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Planning Grants: State/local/tribal government entities, metropolitan planning organizations, and nonprofit organizations. For Capital Construction Grants: Owners of facilities where all required planning and feasibility studies have been completed.
    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