Debut round of funding supports equity-aligned programming in Minneapolis parks through grants to Heritage Youth Sports Foundation/Twin Cities Sol Futsol Academy, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, The Loppet Foundation, and Urban Bird Collective
The grant awards will provide funding for six equity-aligned programs in Minneapolis parks that span the city and the seasons. This year’s grantees are the Heritage Youth Sports Foundation/Twin Cities Sol Futsol Academy, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, The Loppet Foundation, and Urban Bird Collective.
The Parks Foundation created the People for Parks Fund through its 2020 consolidation with People for Parks. The inaugural grant program was announced in March 2021. More than 20 organizations submitted applications for activities that promote community connections through youth and adult sports, arts and cultural programming, and experiencing nature. The People for Parks Fund Advisory Committee, a volunteer group of community members and Parks Foundation board members, evaluated the applications, and awarded recipients with grants ranging from $4,700 to $7,500 each.
“As Minneapolis emerges from the pandemic and continues our journey toward racial equity, our parks are naturally a place where we can regenerate meaningful connections to each other and the natural world,” says Tom Evers, Executive Director of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. “Our mission is to transform lives by aligning philanthropic investment and community vision, and we’re delighted that through the People for Parks Fund we can support these organizations as they celebrate our city’s diverse voices and cultures, and promote health, wholeness, and community with their work throughout Minneapolis.”
“As a committee, we were incredibly impressed with all the grant applications we received from throughout the Minneapolis community,” said Steve Bailey, Chair of the People for Parks Fund Advisory Committee. “We are thrilled to support a number of projects and programs that promote equity and expand opportunities for residents to engage with and enjoy their local parks. We look forward to witnessing the impact these projects will have during this time of great reflection and healing in our community.”
About the 2021 People for Parks Fund Grants
In evaluating grant applications, the People for Parks Fund Advisory Committee prioritized alignment with the Parks Foundation’s “guiding themes,” especially equity and cultural inclusion, as well as resilience to climate change, community health and wellbeing, connections to the natural world, and economic vitality. This year’s grant recipients are:
- Heritage Youth Sports Foundation/Twin Cities Sol Futsol Academy, for “Sol of the Cities” Futsol League, a summer-long sports and community service program for boys and girls, ages 8-14, based at North Commons Park.
- Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, for “Paddle Day,” a partnership with CLUES (comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio) to introduce LatinX youth and their mentors to canoeing, portaging, and environmental education activities at Lake Hiawatha.
- Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, for two projects: “Somali Traditional Games” at Franklin Steele Park, which brings youth and seniors together for intergenerational games (such as Shax, Ladu, and a board game called High Jump) that teach young people about their cultural heritage and help preserve it through hands-on experiences, and swim lessons for 66 children in RecPlus school-age childcare programs at Webber and Harrison parks.
- The Loppet Foundation, for “Snowboarding for All in the City,” which will support connecting elementary and middle school girls of color to snowboarding, providing the skill training and access to equipment.
- Urban Bird Collective, for “Cultural Healing Practices with the Birds,” a program to promote wellbeing through urban birdwatching to Twin Cities BIPOC- and LGBTQ+-led organizations through small-group guided events.
About the People for Parks Fund
The People for Parks Fund exists to advance under-supported projects and programs in Minneapolis parks. It serves as the catalyst for connecting community-driven ideas and funding that nurture parks stewardship, community, and enjoyment. The Minneapolis Parks Foundation established the Fund in 2020 through a consolidation with another nonprofit called People for Parks. Founded in 1977, People for Parks identified and directed $2.5 million to Minneapolis parks through grant making, fundraising events, and fiscal agency. Its work included support for the Lake Harriet Bandshell rehabilitation, Wabun universal access play area – the first of its kind in Minneapolis – and the nature playscape at North Mississippi Regional Park, as well as numerous neighborhood park projects throughout Minneapolis.
About the Minneapolis Parks Foundation
Since 2003, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation has raised more than $25 million for transformative parks and programming in Minneapolis Parks by aligning philanthropic investment and community vision. Today, the Parks Foundation champions equitable investment in Minneapolis parks through the RiverFirst Initiative and Reimagining the Civic Commons and is responsible for private fundraising and implementation of the Water Works and Great Northern Greenway River Link projects. The Parks Foundation also supports community-based parks projects with the People for Parks Fund, and explores the intersection of parks and today’s most pressing issues by presenting the Next Generation of Parks™ Event Series. Learn more at MplsParksFoundation.org.
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