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 Equitable Park Funding Hub highlights six sectors and summarizes grant and technical assistance opportunities under each, including eligibility, park funding use, match requirement, and other important information to help determine if the program is the right fit for a project. It is not intended to be a comprehensive source of funding opportunities but a starting point with examples and links to the various agencies that oversee the programs.

As many 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.

The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on the need for safe, quality parks and on park inequities throughout communities. Now more than ever, high-quality parks and public spaces in disadvantaged communities require creative and wide-ranging partnerships to unlock public and private funding sources.  We hope you will find this resource helpful in assisting with your local park funding needs. 

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 and The Speedwell 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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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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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 & Stormwater Management

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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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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Federal transportation funding can create trail connections for parks and neighborhoods, which provide new outdoor recreation and commuting options, air-quality and congestion benefits, and local economic development opportunities.


Use this tool to filter, sort, and learn about funding opportunities and potential partnerships.

  • Business Improvement Districts

    Based on the notion that well-maintained public spaces increase commerce, Business Improvement Districts are a form of public-private partnership that taxes businesses within a designated area and uses them for public improvements, often in downtown areas. Business Improvement Districts are a useful strategy for pooling revenue to support a common goal. BID funds are managed by a nonprofit corporation established by the district. BIDs are increasingly common in cities across the country, particularly for park maintenance. A Green Benefit District, first created in San Francisco, is a public-private partnership property assessment district created by local property owners to fund neighborhood improvements. Revenue is used for parks, open spaces, the greening of streets and neighborhood beautification.
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance, Programming
  • Tax Increment Financing Districts

    Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIF) collect property tax revenue within a designated geographic area and allocate it for a specific public improvement projects.

    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance, Programming
  • Enterprise Funds and Revenue Generating Activities

    Funding 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 Use
    Operations/Maintenance, Programming
  • Parking Fees

    In some cities, parking fees go to the city general fund and are then distributed, but not always to parks. Other park systems retain full control of parking revenues.

    Park Funding Use
    Operations/Maintenance, Programming
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Additional Equitable Funding Research