Conservation Funding

Parks and green space support public health, workforce development, local economies, the environment, and community cohesion. And yet, historic disinvestment has left many low-income communities and communities of color without quality parks and recreation opportunities. Federal and state park funding programs that prioritize investments in underserved communities contribute to closing the equity gap.

Federal Funding

  • Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

    Using zero taxpayer dollars, the Land and Water Conservation Fund invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to protect land and water for national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges, and to provide matching grants for state and local park and recreation projects. LWCF is administered nationally by the National Park Service within the U.S. Department of the Interior.
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Federal land management agencies
    Learn More
  • LWCF State and Local Funding

    The LWCF State Side program provides matching grants to create and expand parks, develop recreation facilities, and further local recreation plans. All projects eligible to be funded through LWCF’s State Side program must reflect the policies and priorities of the state’s most current Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). The first step is to contact the cooperating state office.
    Typical Grant Amount
    $325,000
    Match from other sources
    100%
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Public Agencies, including State, Local, and Tribal Governments, Districts
    Learn More
  • LWCF Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP)

    Administered through the National Park Service, ORLP funds urban projects in jurisdictions of at least 50,000 people in urbanized area with priority for projects in underserved communities. These awards address outdoor recreation deficits and support job creation through new outdoor recreation spaces and reinvigorating existing parks. With full and permanent funding of LWCF in 2020 through the Great American Outdoors Act, the ORLP Program is expected to receive a significant increase in funding annually. Current, each state can submit up to 4 proposals annually. Grants range from $250,000 to $1 million.

    Typical Grant Amount
    $500,000
    Match from other sources
    100%
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Local governments, Tribal governments, Districts
    Learn More
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State Funding Models

  • California Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program (SPP)

    This competitive grant program creates new parks and recreation opportunities in critically underserved communities. SPP is the largest park related grant program in California’s history. The program is geared towards under-served, park-poor and economically disadvantaged areas. Projects must involve at least one recreation feature. Grants range from $200,000 to $8,500,000.
    Typical Grant Amount
    $4,000,000
    Match from other sources
    None
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Local governments and districts, Nonprofit organizations
    Learn More
  • Massachusetts Community Preservation Act (CPA)

    The Community Preservation Act (CPA) helps Massachusetts towns preserve the character of their community through open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing, and recreation funded by local tax levies. To date, 177 municipalities in the state have adopted the CPA, funding over 2,500 parks, playgrounds and other outdoor recreation projects.
    Typical Grant Amount
    Varies by jurisdiction
    Match from other sources
    None
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Local governments
    Learn More
  • Massachusetts Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) Grant Program

    The PARC Grant Program assists towns in developing parks and outdoor recreation. These grants can be used to acquire, build, or renovate parks in order to build resilience under the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program. This is a reimbursement program returning 50% to 70% of project costs. Massachusetts also has its Conservation Partnership Grant Program to help nonprofit organizations acquire land for conservation or recreation.
    Typical Grant Amount
    Up to $400,000
    Match from other sources
    30% to 50%
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Local governments (population over 35,000)
    Learn More
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife: The Local Park Grant Program

    Texas Parks and Wildlife recreation grant programs assist hundreds of communities meet their outdoor recreation needs. The Local Park Grant Program provides park grants for projects in various categories based on community population size and scope. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department administers this local park grants program for projects in various categories based on community population size and scope. All grant-assisted sites must be dedicated as parkland in perpetuity, be maintained, and open to the public.
    Typical Grant Amount
    Urban $1 million, non-urban $750,000
    Match from other sources
    50%
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Local governments and districts
    Learn More
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Additional Resources

Case Studies

Share Your Experience

This Hub highlights select federal and state 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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Parks and green space support public health, workforce development, local economies, the environment, and community cohesion. And yet, historic disinvestment has left many low-income communities and communities of color without quality parks and recreation opportunities. Federal and state park funding programs that prioritize investments in underserved communities contribute to closing the equity gap.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is the primary source of federal funding for parks and conservation. LWCF funds city parks through the State Side Program and the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program, which provides grants specifically to cities for park projects in disadvantaged communities.

In 2020, LWCF received a significant boost through the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act funding of $900 million per year, almost doubling federal funds for parks. Federal funding for urban parks in low-income communities is expected to increase substantially as a result.

State and local funding sources continue to be essential for acquisition, development and restoration of urban parks. The model state and local programs identified in the Hub have equity criteria that ensure disadvantaged communities benefit from the investment.