Unlocking America’s Schoolyard Potential

Parks are essential for healthy, equitable communities. And almost 20 million people without park access, including kids and their families, live within a 10-minute walk of a public school.

That’s why we’ve been partnering with communities and school administrators to open schoolyards to the public after school hours and transform them from blacktops into vibrant play spaces, connecting students and neighbors alike to the benefits of the outdoors.

If all schoolyards were transformed and opened to the community after hours, 80 million people would have access to a new park within a 10-minute walk of home.

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Communities of Color Have 44% Less Park Space
Communities of Color Have 44% Less Park Space

Along with promoting better mental and physical well-being, cleaner air, and climate change resilience, creating more community schoolyards can deliver a host of educational benefits.

Our research shows that right now, white communities still have an advantage over Black, Hispanic, Latinx, Asian, Native American, and other communities of color in the quality of outdoor learning spaces and park access.

Our work is helping to ensure the amazing benefits of community schoolyards are available for all future generations.

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Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Made—Through Partnerships Like This

In September 2022, Nike announced the creation of their Community Climate Resilience Program, a targeted program that helps provide access to more green spaces and parks, increasing sports participation in the communities that need it most. The program funds projects that advance a critical goal: build climate resilience in communities disproportionately impacted by climate threats. Its method: creating and cultivating healthy, active, and resilient public greenspaces.

Trust for Public Land received the program’s inaugural grant to fund U.S.-based projects advancing climate resilience and access to sport in communities disproportionally impacted by climate threats.

Nike’s support is strengthening community resilience through climate-smart park and schoolyard solutions in four low-income, underserved neighborhoods across New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. These high-quality green spaces also provide health, equity, and community benefits.

A group of people standing in front of a building. A group of people standing in front of a building.
Community Schoolyards Are a Common Sense Solution

Community Schoolyards projects advance health, climate, equity, and educational outcomes in students and their communities. They are an evidence-based initiative that works to address some of society’s greatest inequities.

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  • Education Benefits

    Students benefit when we swap asphalt deserts for trees, gardens, and updated play equipment. According to teachers and school administration, attendance, behavior, and test scores all improve after schoolyard renovations.

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    Education Benefits
  • Health Outcomes

    Community Schoolyards projects open to surrounding neighborhoods help students, families, and neighbors stay active and healthy. Access to these green spaces—where you can spend time in nature—reduces stress, depression, and anxiety. It also improves concentration, lowers obesity rates, and reduces blood pressure.

    Health Benefits
  • Closing the Park Equity Gap

    Community Schoolyards projects have the potential to help shrink the park equity gap. Our data analysis reveals that in the 100 most populous U.S. cities, neighborhoods where residents predominantly identify as people of color have access to an average of 44 percent less park acreage than predominantly white neighborhoods. A similar pattern emerges in low-income versus high-income communities.

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    Park Equity Gap
  • Climate Resilience

    Renovated schoolyards have climate superpowers. Specially landscaped gardens, bioswales, and porous surfaces absorb stormwater and prevent flooding. Trees cool down play spaces and surrounding areas. Yet our study shows that nationwide, 36 percent of the nation’s 50.8 million public school students attended school in a heat island. This has a direct negative impact on learning and the community’s climate resilience. We’re working to change that.

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    Climate Resilience

Our Mission is to Make Community Schoolyards a Standard Practice

Our Corporate Partners

Our corporate partners share our passion for creating more parks for more people through Community Schoolyards spaces. Here are just some of our partners in this important work:

Urge Congress to Support Community Schoolyards Projects

Take action now and ask your elected officials to provide funding that will transform our nation’s asphalt schoolyards into vibrant parks for kids and their communities, regardless of zip code.

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