Envisioning Parks with Purpose
Think about your favorite park. Why do you go there? How do you feel there? How does it help you to get and stay healthy? Imagine if all people had easy access to safe, vibrant park spaces where they could gather in community with their family, friends, and neighbors of all ages and abilities. Where visitors could find a range of amenities that support the different ways that different people enjoy being active – nature walks, play, swimming, pick-up sports – with design features that mitigate the Texas heat. Where greenery, native plants, and water features invite users to stop and smell the roses, breathe deeper, and shed some of the stress they carry through life.
St. David’s Foundation believes that all people in Central Texas need and deserve such parks, which are a crucial component of any community’s public health strategy. There is much work to be done. Park inequity maps to the same places that disproportionately harbor health inequity. There are numerous historical (e.g., segregation, underinvestment) and modern (e.g., long commutes, technology) barriers that prevent underserved residents from using parks and, by extension, reaping the health benefits. While getting 100% of the community to use parks on a regular basis is beyond aspirational, opportunities to convert more seldom and non-users into park lovers exist at every turn.
Because community park need far outpaces available resources, the Foundation engaged the Trust for Public Land to create the Healthy Parks Plan for Travis, Bastrop, and Caldwell Counties (Parks Plan) to support strategic investments. This RFP is informed by and builds on the data, tools, and resources of the plan, which was driven by a stakeholder and community-engaged 18-month process. Prospective applicants should familiarize themselves with the plan and resources, which are posted at http://web.tplgis.org/healthyparksplan/.
Available grants may range from $20,000 to $200,000. Requests should be commensurate with the project scope and scale of potential community impact. Eligible projects will fall into three categories:
- Activation grants for organizations seeking to learn how to more effectively bring existing parks to life and build community. These grants will support projects including, but not limited to marketing, programs, community engagement, and evaluation. First and foremost, activation grants are about learning how to build community around a community asset — in this case parks — for health. The projects are vehicles for inquiry, learning, and planning. Grants are not intended to fund the operations of off-the-shelf programs not tied to a higher parks purpose.
- Infrastructure/amenity grants for organizations seeking to add or renovate park infrastructure or amenities that promote health. Applicants must demonstrate that the community wants and will use proposed improvements. These grants will support projects from small to midsize that can include, but are not limited to, shade structures over swimming pools, playgrounds, outdoor fitness equipment, and trails. First and foremost, infrastructure/amenity grants are about parks users’ experiences over building things. Grants are not permitted to fund infrastructure commonly considered municipal responsibilities (e.g., sidewalks, lighting).
- Hybrid grants for organizations that want to bring together complementary activation efforts with amenity improvements in one proposal.
Eligible applicants are non-profit organizations and public entities serving Bastrop, Caldwell, and/or Travis Counties. Proposals are due August 19, 2019 by noon CST by online submission. An optional information session will be hosted Monday, July 15th at St. David’s Foundation.
Timeline and Important Dates
RFP Issue Date
RFP Information Session and Parks Plan Release Event
RFP Response Date
Notice of Decision