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Minneapolis Parks Foundation > Common Ground > Projects > Great Northern Greenway River Link > Minneapolis Parks Foundation and Bank of America Announce $1 Million Investment in the RiverFirst Campaign

Minneapolis Parks Foundation and Bank of America Announce $1 Million Investment in the RiverFirst Campaign

Catalytic Contribution Brings the Campaign for Transformative Riverfront Parks, Including Water Works and the Great Northern Greenway River Link, to Within $600,000 Needed to Break Ground

Minneapolis, Minn. – The Bank of America Charitable Foundation awarded the Minneapolis Parks Foundation a $1 million Anchor grant for its RiverFirst Capital Campaign to catalyze new park and community investments along a revitalized Upper Mississippi Riverfront. Bank of America’s grant positions the Parks Foundation to complete its $17.9 million campaign for transformative parks; it also brings the RiverFirst Campaign to within $600,000 of the amount needed to break ground in early 2019 on the first phases of the projects known as Water Works and the Great Northern Greenway River Link.

RiverFirst is a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board-led vision for regional riverfront parks and trails that will transform the Minneapolis Upper Riverfront into a world-class cultural and recreational destination for residents and visitors, as well as an economic engine for the Twin Cities region. The Parks Foundation is the park board’s primary philanthropic partner in the public-private RiverFirst Initiative. In addition to Water Works and the River Link, RiverFirst projects include Upper Harbor Terminal redevelopment, Hall’s Island restoration, and Graco Park.

“Viable green spaces for people to enjoy are essential to our communities, and something we’re all collectively responsible for preserving,” said Katie Simpson, Minneapolis market president at Bank of America. “By supporting the efforts of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, especially the historic RiverFirst project, Bank of America is investing in a landscape that will benefit and connect our community for generations and decades to come.”

Bank of America has environmental, social, and governance policies that drive responsible growth, create jobs, and help families, businesses, and communities thrive. The Anchor grant was created to support institutions and initiatives that ‘anchor’ the local community and enable economic mobility, workforce development and education, and community revitalization.

With its RiverFirst grant, Bank of America joins General Mills as one of two Fortune 500 companies to contribute leadership gifts at $1 million and above. Together with additional gifts from individuals and corporations, campaign contributions now total $15.9 million.

“With Bank of America’s catalytic contribution to RiverFirst, breaking ground on two of the most important new Minneapolis parks projects in recent decades is within reach,” says Tom Evers, executive director of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. “We’re grateful that Bank of America understands the power of Water Works and the Great Northern Greenway River Link to connect residents and visitors to our region’s greatest natural asset – the Mississippi River – and affirms their commitment to the Twin Cities by making such a meaningful gift at this critical time in the campaign.”

Already home to iconic landmarks, including St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge, Water Works will be an expansion of Mill Ruins Park and become a much-needed destination for the more than 2.5 million annual visitors to the area, a number that is expected to double in the next decade. Among the new amenities will be a park pavilion with a restaurant by James Beard Award-winning The Sioux Chef; revealed and restored historic mill remnants; a city steps gathering and performance space; and places to picnic and play.

Riverfront parks: An economic engine
Parks and trails are the key to unlocking the economic potential of the Minneapolis Upper Riverfront. The Great Northern Greenway River Link is a milestone project and major step in transforming the entire river corridor through North Minneapolis into public parkland, parkway, and trails. Located at the eastern end of the newly completed 26th Ave. N. bike and pedestrian trail, the River Link will celebrate community members’ arrival at the Mississippi River with a compelling public space featuring views, art, lighting, furniture, and interactive experiences.

“Bank of America’s generous contribution puts us one step closer to completing what I call the unfinished agenda for our riverfront park, which includes RiverFirst,” said Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Mary Merrill. “This important project not only supports ecological systems and establishes new parks and trails, it also provides access and opportunities for underserved neighborhoods to do something I deeply believe in: Playing for Life.”

About Bank of America
At Bank of America, we’re guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. We’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across our eight lines of business and reflects how we help fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our clients, and the impact we make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact.

About the Minneapolis Parks Foundation
The Minneapolis Parks Foundation transforms human lives through parks and public spaces by aligning philanthropic investment and community vision. The Parks Foundation co-leads the RiverFirst Initiative with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and is responsible for private fundraising and implementation of the Water Works and Great Northern Greenway River Link projects. The Parks Foundation also champions world-class design through its Next Generation of Parks™ Event Series and supports innovative Minneapolis parks projects, including Little Free Libraries® at all recreation centers, through equity funding. Learn more at

About the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is an independent, semi-autonomous body responsible for the Minneapolis park system. With 180 park properties totaling 6,804 acres of land and water, the Park Board provides places and recreation opportunities for all people to gather and engage in activities that promote health, well-being, community and the environment. Its Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, neighborhood parks, recreation centers and diversified programming have made the park system an important component of what makes Minneapolis a great place to live, play and work. More than 24 million annual visits are made to the nationally acclaimed park system, which was named the number one park system in the nation in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 by The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore® Index.

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Featured Image: Bank of America Market President for Minneapolis-St. Paul, Katie Simpson, makes the announcement at Nicollet Island Pavilion, with (L to R) the Parks Foundation’s Tom Paul, Minneapolis Park Board’s Mary Merrill and Brad Bourn, and Jacob Frey, Mayor of Minneapolis. The Parks Foundation’s Tom Evers also spoke.


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