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.
Property TaxesMany jurisdictions opt to levy taxes on the value of personal property, to fund parks and recreation initiatives. State laws vary whether revenue from property tax levies can be used for operating costs or capital investments. Property tax levies can be passed through legislative initiative or tax referendum.Park Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance, Programming
Business Improvement DistrictsBased 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 UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance, Programming
Tax Increment Financing DistrictsTax Increment Financing Districts (TIF) collect property tax revenue within a designated geographic area and allocate it for a specific public improvement projects.Park Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance, Programming
Enterprise Funds and Revenue Generating ActivitiesFunding 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 UseOperations/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.