Trust for Public Land Celebrates 50th Anniversary, Launch of Minnesota Community Schoolyard Program

Today, Trust for Public Land is celebrating the organization’s 50th anniversary at an event co-hosted with Brooklyn Center Elementary STEAM. For the last 50 years, and 30 here in Minnesota, Trust for Public Land (TPL) and their community partners have worked to protect outdoor spaces and ensure they are open and accessible to all.

To honor this milestone, TPL is officially launching our Minnesota Community Schoolyards™ program, which transforms schoolyards into vibrant green spaces and social hubs that serve students and residents including after school hours. As the pilot site for this program, Brooklyn Center Elementary STEAM serves Minnesota’s most diverse city, embracing a community-centered approach for each of its 848 students and surrounding neighborhood. When these schoolyard spaces are open to surrounding neighborhoods, it helps students, families, and the community stay active and healthy by providing quality, close-to-home places to play and gather.

“Investments in our schoolyards are investments in our communities. TPL is proud to celebrate this important milestone in our organization’s history with the announcement of our Community Schoolyards program here in Minnesota,” said Sophie Vorhoff, Associate Vice President and Minnesota State Director for Trust for Public Land. “We know that when these spaces are open to the public and feature green improvements, entire communities will benefit, both from increased play and recreation opportunities as well as reduction in heat impacts and flooding In the 30 years TPL has been working across Minnesota and the Northwoods, TPL has connected over 80,000 people to a park within a 10-minute walk of home, and preserved 101,350 acres that are now available for public enjoyment. We are thrilled to continue these efforts and launch our schoolyards program here in Minnesota.”

These improvements to Brooklyn Center Elementary will help improve the health, equity, and climate outcomes for over 2,500 people who live within a 10-minute walk of the schoolyard. As we continue to work with more school districts across the state—and generous partners like SWA Group, which provided pro bono design services for this schoolyard, Brooklyn Center Elementary STEAM Schoolyard will serve as a model for others looking to create an incredible green space for students and neighbors alike.

TPL currently has four initial schoolyard project sites in the works with more planned for the future. Thanks to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, L.L. Bean, the MN Board of Water and Soil Resources’ Lawns to Legumes Program, the City of Brooklyn Center, this important work was made possible.

The Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund and the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources both contributed to funding Brooklyn Center Elementary funding and overall expansion of the program.

Funding for the Brooklyn Center schoolyard and other sites is critical to ensuring they can serve as incredible green spaces for students and residents alike and donations can be made here.

Nationwide, 100 million people, including 28 million children, lacking a park or green space within a 10-minute walk from home, and it is low-income communities and communities of color that are most affected. There is much work to be done to close this significant access gap in America. TPL believes that transforming America’s schoolyards into shared public parks is a common-sense, cost-effective solution to the nation’s park equity problem. Opening all public schoolyards during non-school hours would put a park within a 10-minute walk of nearly 20 million people—solving the problem of outdoor access for one-fifth of the nation’s 100 million people who don’t currently have a park close to home.

TPL’s 50 years of impact can be seen in the organization’s work hand in hand with communities across the country to create cherished neighborhood parks like Cook Park in Atlanta’s historic Vine City district, Boeddecker Park in the heart of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, and the vibrant Midway Peace Park here in St. Paul, Minnesota.

All told, in its 50-year history, TPL has worked with local, state, and national partners to preserve nearly 4 million acres and create or enhance more than 5,364 community parks, putting quality green space within a 10-minute walk of nearly 9.4 million people.

About Trust for Public Land

Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit