The Trust for Public Land Invests $400,000 into Communities Closing America’s Park Equity Gap

July 21, 2021
SAN FRANCISCO

Today The Trust for Public Land announced a $400,000 investment effort to help close the park equity divide across 13 cities including New York, Philadelphia, St. Paul, Boston, Cleveland, Honolulu, Chicago, and Denver. These investments were made possible through the organization’s Equitable Communities Fund (ECF), which was established to advance park projects and help stabilize community-based organizations that provide services through parks in 62 communities that have historically been subjected to underinvestment, and areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The Equitable Communities Fund is supported by private philanthropic donations. Over the next five years, The Trust for Public Land hopes to raise $50 million to sustain recovery in these communities and create safe and quality access to parks for 9.6 million people by working to complete more than 100 park, trail, schoolyard transformation, and open space protection projects in close partnership with 127 community-based organizations.   

This first round of funding is helping to revive park projects that stalled due to the pandemic; provide food and support services to the elderly, veterans, and at-risk community members; provide free access to bicycles for use on public trail systems in areas grappling with above average rates of obesity and heart disease; create outdoor public spaces in park-deficient areas; and help transform barren, asphalt-covered schoolyards into cool, green, vibrant spaces intended for learning, play, and community enjoyment.  

“While COVID-19 has proven the importance of quality parks and open spaces to our quality of life, it has exacerbated vast inequities across every facet of society, including our park systems,” said Trust for Public Land CEO and President Diane Regas. “The areas included in our ECF program experienced more than 20 percent of the total national job losses and a combined $20 billion in wage losses during the pandemic. This funding is simultaneously keeping vitally needed organizations afloat at a critical time in our nation’s recovery while advancing park, trail, open space, and schoolyard projects in areas where they are needed most.” 

The Trust for Public Land recently published a groundbreaking report detailing significant inequities in park space and distribution. Across the 100 most populous U.S. cities, residents of neighborhoods where the majority of people identify as Black, Hispanic and Latinx, Indigenous and Native American, or Asian American and Pacific Islander have access to an average of 44 percent less park space per capita than residents of neighborhoods that are majority white. Residents of low-income neighborhoods have access to 42 percent less park space than residents of high-income neighborhoods.  

The Equitable Communities Fund is supported by private individuals, foundations, and corporate entities including VF Corporation, the parent company of Vans, The North Face, and Timberland, which provided the seed funding to launch the fund.  

“The private sector can play a powerful role in ensuring equitable access to the outdoors for all Americans,” said Gloria Schoch, Executive Director of The VF Foundation. “That is why we felt it was so important to provide the initial seed money to establish the Equitable Communities Fund and bring transformative benefits of outdoor green space to the communities where it has been historically out of reach.” 

A total of $200,000 in ECF funding was awarded to eight community-based organizations: 

  • PowerCorps Camden - Camden, NJ - $40,000 
  • White Oak Bicycle Co-Op - Chattanooga, TN - $10,000 
  • North Lawndale Employment Network - Chicago, IL - $25,000 
  • Recess Cleveland - Cleveland, OH - $30,000 
  • D3 Arts - Denver, CO - $25,000 
  • Oahu Intertribal Council - Honolulu, HI - $25,000 
  • Lower Phalen Creek Project - St. Paul, MN - $25,000 
  • Somali Health Board - Tukwila, WA - $20,000 

The Trust for Public Land is also using Equitable Communities Funds to advance park projects in the following cities:  

  • AB Anderson Elementary – Philadelphia, PA - $50,000 
  • Central Village Park – St. Paul, MN - $25,000 
  • Chiloquin Schoolyard – Chiloquin, OR - $25,000 
  • Feaster and Pittman Parks – New Brunswick, NJ - $22,885 
  • Norwell Street Park – Boston, MA - $25,000 
  • PS107X – Soundview, Bronx, NY - $25,000 
  • Sliver by the River – Bridgeport, CT - $25,000 

“Parks are not just a nicety—they are a necessity. When individuals, companies, and foundations invest in the Equitable Communities Fund, they’re investing in a vital part of our nation’s recovery,” added Regas.  

Visit tpl.org/equitable-communities-fund for a full list of the recently funded projects and to learn more about ways to support the Equitable Communities Fund.  

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About the Trust for Public Land   

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.   

About the Equitable Communities Fund  

The Trust for Public Land has a goal of raising $50 million for the Equitable Communities Fund (ECF) to accelerate park and open space creation in communities where strategic and immediate investment can be transformative in bridging the park equity divide and addressing systemic challenges. The Equitable Communities Fund improves access to parks and natural resources where it is currently lacking in populations hardest hit by the pandemic, economic losses, and historical racial inequities. It boosts economic recovery and job creation and enables organizations to leverage potential federal stimulus funds and other federal resources for projects that bring parks, open space, and trails to communities with the highest need. The Trust for Public Land does not accept unsolicited requests for ECF awards. Those looking to learn more about partnership opportunities with the Trust for Public Land may contact their local program