Equitable Communities Fund

Help bring parks to the communities that need them the most 

When communities are able to safely come together to experience nature, they are healthier, stronger, more connected, and more equitable. 

That’s why, in the early months of the pandemic, we established our Equitable Communities Fund. The goal: Raise $50 million to energize efforts for creating parks and stabilizing organizations that provide essential services in communities subjected to underinvestment and hit hardest by COVID-19. 

We’ve identified 62 communities across the nation where the fund can be put to work immediately. Thanks to our generous donors, dozens of communities have received the first round of funding. (Read more about these recipients below.)

We’re excited that, with this first round of awards, the Equitable Communities Fund is on its way toward making a difference, but we need your support to ensure we can close the park equity gap in all 62 communities.  

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Explore some of the communities where your gift will make a difference:

Denver, CO


D3 Arts

The $25,000 grant will help D3 Arts, a nonprofit group, regain its financial footing after a year in which its projects with schools, other nonprofits, and government partners were put on hold due to the pandemic. The group, which is focused on community health, has a lofty mission statement: helping individuals recover their true selves. In the Westwood neighborhood of Denver, where a third of residents are below the poverty line, that goal is more pressing than ever. Last summer, gun violence erupted in the community, reflecting a surge of crime across the country during the pandemic. COVID-19, too, has taken a severe toll on residents, many of them of Mexican and Vietnamese descent. D3 Arts has partnered with The Trust for Public Land in Westwood on mural projects in the past, and there are plans for more collaboration, including arts programs aimed at high-risk youth in a future pocket park.

D3 Arts also received $50,000 in Equitable Communities funding through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. This funding will be used towards the West Via Verde Pocket Park Project, which will provide D3 Arts with dedicated outdoor space to expand their programming and events. This funding will enable D3 Arts to develop their programs across the neighborhood and their programmatic vision for their future home at West Via Verde Pocket Park. 

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings.

Bridgeport, CT


Sliver by the River

The $40,000 award will pay for a schematic design for a planned park in Bridgeport, Connecticut, whimsically named Sliver by the River--the first step in seeking state and federal grant funding. The city of Bridgeport was once an industrial powerhouse. In its heyday, it produced everything from corsets and phonographs to sewing machines and steam-powered automobiles. As heavy industry faded, however, the city hemorrhaged jobs and shed residents, all while suffering the effects of chemical pollution. With an enviable perch on Long Island Sound, Bridgeport is now in the midst of a waterfront revitalization that will include a ribbon of parks along a 20-mile shoreline path. One such park project is Sliver by the River. It is currently an almond-shaped vacant lot, sandwiched between the Pequonnock River and the city’s train and bus stations. But when completed, the four-acre park will give 38,919 new residents ten-minute walk access to the waterfront greenspace (currently 70% of the waterfront is inaccessible.) Sliver by the River is important for addressing our national park equity gap: of the potential park users, 54 percent are low-income, while 47 percent are Hispanic, 36 percent white, and 33 percent Black.

Sliver by the River also received $50,000 in Equitable Communities funding through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Groundwork Bridgeport is our key partner on the entire Bridgeport Waterfront Pathway. This funding will enable Groundwork Bridgeport, a team of two, to implement community outreach for the participatory design process at Sliver by the River through in-person engagement opportunities and a variety of online and other media outreach.

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings.

Honolulu, HI


Oahu Intertribal Council 

The $25,000 grant will support the Oahu Intertribal Council (OIC), which educates communities in Hawaii about North American Indians and Alaska Native traditions and cultures. The pandemic expanded the council’s outreach beyond education to immediate support for Native American and Hawaiian families. OIC provided food and economic relief to elders, families, and veterans through food, clothing, and household-good drives; gift card and cash donations, and holiday gift boxes in collaboration with other nonprofit groups. OIC also made available more than one thousand meals during the summer launch of our Parks for People Program at ʻAʻala Park. As a grassroots organization bringing thousands of indigenous peoples together at its annual intertribal powwow in Hawaii’s parks, OIC embodies The Trust for Public Land’s commitment to health and equity. In addition, the grant will allow OIC to reinstate the Annual Honolulu Intertribal Powwow, which, due to the pandemic, was unable to raise money from the sale of Native American foods and crafts at events.

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings.

Chicago, IL


Friends of Sears Sunken Garden

The $125,000 in Equitable Communities funding, a portion of which was provided through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, will allow the Friends of Sears Sunken Garden in Chicago to engage horticulture and landscaping professionals in a distressed neighborhood. In urban areas with extremely high unemployment, one catalyst for job growth is the green economy. Jobs in horticulture, forestry, and park management provide a path to both sustainable wages and careers. Friends of Sears Sunken Garden, serves a community where nearly half of the 35,000 residents live at or below the federal poverty level and more than a quarter live in extreme poverty. Eighty-eight percent are low-income African Americans, and three quarters are parents. One park project in North Lawndale that holds promise for green jobs is the Sears Sunken Garden. Built by Sears, Roebuck and Co. for employees on the company’s 40-acre campus, the garden withered when Sears pulled up stakes in the 1970s. They are working with community partners to revive the garden, with help from The Trust for Public Land. The grant will enable the group to enlist landscaping expertise as it devises recruitment, training, and employment strategies for the project. Once designs are complete they will assist with the final construction and restoration process. 

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings.

Boston, MA


Norwell Street Park

The $25,000 award will fund community engagement and participatory design for a new park that will rise from a vacant, litter-filled lot in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Dorchester is not only the city’s largest neighborhood, but its most diverse. Waves of immigrants over many decades have put their stamp on the southeastern corner of the city. It is also home to a portion of Franklin Park, one of the jewels in the so-called Emerald Necklace, the network of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. But within Dorchester are many smaller communities; one of them, the West of Washington neighborhood, has no parkland at all. The future half-acre Norwell Street Park, which adjoins a new commuter rail station, sits along a nine-mile urban greenway that the City of Boston has identified as a priority in its long-term transportation plan. The grant should also ensure that residents are able to direct the $1.2 million in capital park investments we have already secured.

Norwell Street Park’s partner organization West of Washington Coalition also received $80,000 in Equitable Communities funding through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF).  The WOW Coalition has played a primary role in developing and advancing the Norwell Street Park project, and continues to have an ongoing role in the park’s stewardship and programming, by entering into a management agreement with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD), which will own and have primary management responsibility for the park. Funding from DDCF will enable WOW to plan and execute park programming and maintenance, train and compensate community members to help care for the park, and obtain professional services for stewardship, events, and programming.  

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings. 

Saint Paul, MN


Central Village Park

The $25,000 award will help finance a community-driven master plan for Central Village Park, addressing trails, site amenities, safety, programming, and traffic-calming solutions. Located in St. Paul’s historic Rondo neighborhood, the four-acre park has a complex history. The once-vibrant Black community there was all but destroyed in the 1960s with the construction of Interstate 94 and, later, urban renewal projects. In the 1980s, that development, along with the park, forced out hundreds of families, businesses and organizations. Just two blocks north of Interstate 94, the park is much-cherished, but after decades of disinvestment, it is in need of an upgrade. The revitalized park will serve the broader Summit-University community, the most racially and ethnically diverse in the city. Of 9,381 residents within a ten-minute walk of the park, 40 percent are Black, 34 percent Asian-American, and 7 percent Hispanic. 

Springboard for the Arts, a partner on the Central Village Park project also received $80,000 in Equitable Communities funding provided through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF). Springboard for the Arts is an economic and community development organization for artists and by artists. Springboard will use this funding to hire a community-based artist organizer(s) to lead, guide, and administer park visioning engagement activities, support planners and landscape designers, and support the development of a park stewardship group. Additionally, funds will be used to make minor park improvements and celebrate the park’s history and diversity, as guided by community visioning.


Lower Phalen Creek Project 

The $105,000 Equitable Communities award, a portion of which was provided through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, was used to hire and support efforts of an environmental justice coordinator, which is playing a central role in community engagement and outreach for the daylighting project for Lower Phalen Creek and efforts to bring equity to future land-use projects. Lower Phalen Creek Project is a Native-led environmental nonprofit in St. Paul with a broad mandate, including environmental education, urban conservation, and cultural healing. But when it started in 1997, its focus—as its name suggests—was trained on daylighting Phalen Creek. The creek historically flowed out of Lake Phalen, winding through what is now the city’s East Side and spilling into the Mississippi River. It was a critical corridor for the Dakota people, a place where they fished and gathered wild rice. But like many rivers, Phalen Creek by the 1930s had been diverted through a tunnel below ground to accommodate real estate development. Despite community surveys, exhibits, a feasibility study and design plan, the original goal of Lower Phalen Creek Project has yet to be realized. The grant will also go toward resurrecting the creek’s long-hidden waters. 

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings. 

Camden, NJ


PowerCorps Camden

The $40,000 grant will support PowerCorps Camden, an AmeriCorps program for at-risk youth from the City of Camden. The group, which has partnered with The Trust for Public Land in the past, trains teenagers and young adults to address pressing environmental issues by tackling projects like implementing storm-water management; cleaning and greening vacant lots; improving community space and parks; and revitalizing public land. The city of Camden, which PowerCorps serves, was hit harder by COVID-19 than the surrounding communities. Before the pandemic began, the unemployment rate in Camden was at 11 percent; it has since soared. The Trust for Public Land enlisted PowerCorps youth in designing Dominick Andujar Park, named for a 6-year-old Camden boy who was fatally stabbed in 2012 while trying to protect his 12-year-old sister during a home invasion. And the group is poised to maintain Dominick Andujar Park, as well as Green Schoolyards at Mastery Charter High School and Cooper’s Poynt Family School. The grant will allow us to maintain a more equitable partnership with PowerCorps, which historically lent its support to our projects without compensation. 

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings. 

New Brunswick, NJ


Feaster and Pittman Parks

The $22,885 grant will accelerate the planned renovation of Feaster and Pittman Parks, which was delayed by the pandemic. When the Trust for Public Land and residents of the Unity Square neighborhood came together to dream up possibilities for the renovation of the adjoining parks, they set out to honor the rich history of the community while ensuring its newest residents, largely comprised of families who immigrated to the U.S. from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, had their desires for the space reflected in the final design. The extensive input collected from all corners of the community inspired a design that pays homage to Paul Robeson, a favorite son of New Brunswick who was an artist, athlete, scholar, and activist; and is brimming with amenities for this vibrant community to play, gather, grow and learn. Feaster Park will include custom play areas, a community garden, spray pad, athletic courts, plenty of room to run around, educational amenities, and useful features for neighbors of every age—including shaded seating and performance areas. Pittman Park honors the Civil War veterans interned there and will remain a place for reflection. More than 16,500 residents live within a 10-minute walk of the soon-to-be renovated parks, which together span five acres; of those, 60 percent are low income, and 72 percent are Hispanic. 

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings. 

The Bronx, NY


PS 107X Schoolyard

The $25,000 grant will leverage public funding for the renovation a 1.6-acre schoolyard in the Bronx, making it shovel-ready this summer. In a recent study, the Bronx emerged as the least healthy county in New York State, ranking last out of 62 jurisdictions. The inequities were striking. Right next door, Manhattan placed among the healthiest counties in the state, with an average life expectancy of 84.5 (compared to the Bronx’s 80.4). Social determinants play a large role in health outcomes, of course, and in one area of the Bronx, the Soundview neighborhood, more than half the population lives in poverty. The conversion of an asphalt schoolyard at P.S. 107X in Soundview will address at least one such determinant—access to greenspace. Transforming the school grounds with new trees, gardens, and play equipment, and then making the space accessible to the entire community during non-school hours, will put nearly 15,000 residents within a 10-minute walk of a park. The schoolyard at P.S. 107X, known as the Parkchester Elementary School, also suffers from poor drainage. The renovation will prevent local flooding with permeable paving stones and thirsty vegetation. 

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings. 

Cleveland, OH


Recess Cleveland

The $30,000 award will help Recess Cleveland, in conjunction with The Trust for Public Land, fabricate branded shipping containers to be used to house temporary pop-up park activities. A nonprofit that promotes emotional growth and physical activity, Recess Cleveland holds pop-up events in schools and parks that lack safe spaces to play. Since its founding in 2015, the group has embraced a model centered on providing free weekly outdoor games for families and children across the city of Cleveland and, in the process, revitalizing under-resourced parks and greenspaces. Recess Cleveland’s relationship with The Trust for Public Land Ohio was formalized in 2020, when the group was chosen as our 10 Minute Walk partnership fund recipient. Despite challenges associated with community engagement during the pandemic, we feel our work with Recess Cleveland is just getting started, and we look forward to future collaboration as the Ohio Parks for People program makes inroads into park-deprived neighborhoods.

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings. 

Chiloquin, OR


Chiloquin Elementary Schoolyard

The $25,000 award will cover the cost of hiring an artist to work with students at Chiloquin Elementary School, where a planned outdoor mural will highlight the history and culture of the Klamath Basin. The school is located in Chiloquin, a rural community in southern Oregon and the capital of the Klamath Nation. In fact, the name “Chiloquin” belonged to a Chief whose descendant Edison Chiloquin resisted efforts to be bought out by the federal government in the 1950s. That is when the United States embarked on a campaign to terminate many Indian tribes. Despite the painful history of dispossession, members of the Klamath Tribes still have a strong connection to the land. Yet for students at Chiloquin Elementary, the schoolyard—a bland, tired landscape—inspires neither love of nature nor dynamic play.  A new “Green Schoolyard,” that broke ground in the fall, should correct that. Designed with input from students and community members, the renovation will result in a covered basketball court, modern play equipment, paths winding through native plants—and the new mural. 

A $30,000 Equitable Communities award provided through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation will support Willamette Partnership’s continued community engagement work around this project as we complete designs and construction of the schoolyard over the next year.  

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings. 

Philadelphia, PA


Anderson Schoolyard

The $50,000 grant will help cover a top-to-bottom renovation of a drab, sun-baked schoolyard at Add B. Anderson School in West Philadelphia. When students at the elementary school head outside for recess, they must contend with a schoolyard that is more parking lot than play space. The sea of asphalt heats up quickly and contributes to flooding of the school’s basement. The solution? A green schoolyard, with new trees for cooling shade; fresh play equipment; an outdoor classroom, and rain gardens and other green infrastructure to capture storm water. When completed, the schoolyard will also give park access after school and on weekends to the wider Cobbs Creek community, which is one of concentrated poverty. Specifically, 9,489 new residents—95 percent of whom are Black—will have a greenspace within a ten-minute walk.

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings. 

Chattanooga, TN


The White Oak Bicycle Co-Op

The $10,000 grant will allow the White Oak Bicycle Co-Op to purchase equipment and bolster its ability to make bicycling available to everyone. The volunteer-run Co-Op in the city of Red Bank, Tennessee (outside Chattanooga) recognizes that one of the biggest barriers to owning a working bike is lack of income. The Co-Op is committed to providing free access to bicycles and repair services to those in need, expanding the sustainable form of recreation and transportation. Bicycling helps children and adolescents boost physical activity, relieve anxiety, and reduce the risk of obesity. In many ways, the White Oak Bicycle Co-Op was an outgrowth of the pandemic. The group was formed by three friends who realized that, while their lives were disrupted by COVID-19, other lives were turned upside down. The Trust for Public Land became aware of the Co-Op through our work on a one-mile trail connector between Stringer’s Ridge Park in North Chattanooga and White Oak Park in Red Bank. The grant will help the Co-Op purchase a trailer for transporting equipment to events; a tent; work table; tool set, and parts like tubes, chains, and tires, among other things.

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings. 

Tukwila, WA


Somali Health Board

The $20,000 grant will strengthen Somali Health Board, a grassroots nonprofit that serves as an effective liaison between the East African community in Tukwila, Washington and public and private resources. The goal of Somali Health Board (SHB) has long been to reduce health disparities in King County’s Somali community. Despite decades of advocacy by SHB, the immigrant community in Tukwila was devastated by COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, the organization responded by delivering masks, food, and toys to community hubs, and even gained national attention for its vaccine rollout to Somali residents, putting Tukwila ahead of the county’s vaccination rate. SHB is a key local partner in a joint initiative that was recently awarded by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, through its Building Bridges Program. As part of the initiative, The Trust for Public Land and SHB will mobilize artists to activate local greenspaces, such as Cascade View Park, in an effort to bridge Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

How well are U.S. cities meeting the need for parks? Explore the 2021 ParkScore rankings. 

To learn more about ways to support the Equitable Communities Fund, contact [email protected].

For more information about projects and partnering with The Trust for Public Land, please contact your local office.