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

icon box image


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.

icon box image


Brownfields contribute to blight and prevent reinvestment in economically distressed communities. Transforming them into parks can drive reinvestment and improve community health.

icon box image

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.

icon box image

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.

icon box image

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.

icon box image


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.

  • Concessions

    Many urban park systems find it profitable to have outside entities run restaurants, ice rinks and golf courses through a leasing agreement or royalties on sales. Concessions can increase the visitor rate and thereby parking fees.

    Park Funding Use
    Operations/Maintenance, Programming
  • Contractual Fees

    Parks are ideal venues for special events like concerts, a marathon or a wedding, which open revenue opportunities.

    Park Funding Use
    Operations/Maintenance, Programming
  • New Markets Tax Credits

    New Markets Tax Credits finance projects that have social and economic benefit for low-income communities, including public housing authorities, schools, and community-based nonprofits. They attract private capital into low-income communities with tax credits in exchange for investments in Community Development Entities (CDEs). They are complex, can be difficult to set up, often have high legal fees, and they need to generate a revenue stream to be viable, but for large projects in low-income communities, tax credits can be a significant source of funding. The park projects funded so far have included parks and recreation centers in Cincinnati, Ohio, Washington, D.C., and Pensacola, Florida. As with all significant investments in low-income communities, existing residents should be involved in the planning and decision-making to ensure they benefit from the investments. Opportunity Zones,1 are a new federal tax incentive to encourage investment in recreation facilities and other park-like properties. However, because they are meant to support businesses (ideally ones that appreciate in value), it may be challenging to use them to directly improve public access to parks and green space. Given the current newness of the program, it’s too early to review their use in practice.

    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance, Programming
    Learn More
  • Community Development Block Grants

    The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs) invests in urban communities to increase quality, affordable housing, improve community living environments, and expand economic opportunities. CDBG investments must benefit people of low and moderate incomes. As such, they can be a good source of funding for equitable park investments. Under CDBG, public and nonprofit park leaders need to partner with local community development organizations and the city agency that manages the CDBG funds. Cities must develop a Consolidated Plan that sets local investment priorities and the projects need to meet the priorities outlined in the Consolidated Plan. Because of their flexibility, CDBG funds have been tapped by many park systems. From 2010 through 2018, CDBGs funded nearly $900 million in parks and recreation projects. CDBGs can also provide for maintenance and operations, youth employment, and other park-related investments. The 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act included $5 billion in funds for CDBG, an increase of $1.7 billion over the previous year’s funding.

    Match from other sources
    Varies by State
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance, Programming
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Local governments
    Learn More
Load More

Additional Equitable Funding Research