Giving Compass' Take:

• This report from Urban Institute discusses how urban cities can secure funding for parks and green spaces by catalyzing strong, local partnerships with stakeholders. 

• How can collective impact strategies bring about more funding for public/community development projects? Where is there need for more green space in your area?

• Read more about green spaces and their health benefits.

More than 100 miles of trails in and around Birmingham, Alabama, connect residents to jobs, schools, healthy lifestyles, and each other.

The Red Rock Trail System—a planned 750-mile network of bike infrastructure and pedestrian paths—was spearheaded by the Freshwater Land Trust and funded through a planning grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, federal transportation dollars, community fundraising, and investments from the Jefferson County Department of Health.

This diverse set of partners—including civic, environmental, and health organizations—demonstrates what can happen when a community recognizes the value of trails, parks, and green space and aligns funding to make them a reality.

Our new report explores how communities like Birmingham are thinking creatively about park funding, blending multiple funding sources while forging strong local partnerships with nontraditional stakeholders.

This strategy can unlock new funding streams and secure park allies, enabling park systems with high needs and low resources to make progress on their funding goals. Park systems that serve residents in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color—groups that have faced historical barriers to accessing high-quality parks—can especially benefit from this approach.

Many Americans agree that parks bring significant benefits to their communities, and mayors continue to prioritize parks and recreation.

Evidence also shows that access to high-quality parks can improve physical and mental health, cognitive development, social cohesion, and public safety.

Yet many park systems struggle to secure sufficient, sustainable funding for operations and maintenance, and in lean financial times, park budgets are among the first to be cut.

Recognizing the disconnect between funding and benefits, some jurisdictions are looking at ways to link the benefits of parks directly or indirectly to funding from other agencies and sectors through partnerships.

Read the full article about securing funding for new parks by Matthew Eldridge, Kimberly Burrowes, and Patrick Spauster at Urban Institute.