Safe Routes to Parks: Pennsylvania Activating Communities

Safe Routes Partnership is currently accepting applications from nonprofit organizations located in the state of Pennsylvania to participate in a new state-based Activating Communities program in 2023. Funding is available for four organizations that are representative of the geographic diversity of the state. This will be the fifth cohort of communities in the Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities program, and the first focused in one, specific state.

Timeline:

  • Applications Open: October 14, 2022
  • Application Info Session: November 10, 2022, 1-2 PM, ET
  • Applications Due: December 2, 2022, 11:59 PM ET
  • Awardees Notified: December 16, 2022
  • Program Implementation: Jan-September 2023
    • January–March 2023: Begin coaching calls with Safe Routes Partnership; Complete engagement and assessment activities (with support from Safe Routes Partnership).
    • April-May 2023: Participate in a two-day action plan workshop and site visit. Note: exact timing will depend on the community’s preference and availability of the facilitator’s schedule.
    • September 30, 2023: Action plan and early implementation action completed.

Background:

Safe Routes to Parks is a movement to make great parks safer and easier for people to access by walking, bicycling, and taking public transportation, especially in low-income communities and communities of color, where less investment has gone into the routes to and the amenities within parks. The coronavirus pandemic and the latest chapter of the civil rights movement that characterized the last few years have simultaneously underscored the benefits of safe, accessible outdoor spaces and emphasized that racial equity must play a central role in Safe Routes to Parks and all active transportation advocacy. One element of a thriving, equitable community is that people can safely and conveniently access well-maintained, well-programmed parks and open spaces. Safe places to walk, bike, and connect with nature directly contribute to a community’s physical, mental, and social well-being.

Safe Routes Partnership, in collaboration with the National Recreation and Parks Association, developed the Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework to guide advocates through the process of assessing park access, planning improvements, implementing changes, and sustaining the work. Engagement is at the center of that process. Community members, as the local experts on their neighborhoods, are essential to the process of project selection, design, and implementation. Partnering with community leaders acknowledges the wisdom and assets that communities hold and can be the first step toward rectifying past and ongoing injustices built into our communities by racist land use and capital investment policies and practices. These decisions and policies, whether they intended to marginalize people of color or did so by neglecting to engage the people affected by these decisions, have led to poor health outcomes; less access to safe, high-quality public spaces; decreased physical activity; and higher rates of traffic-related injuries and fatalities among low-income communities and communities of color. Collectively, we have the opportunity and responsibility to create conditions that enable all people to thrive, where residents can build on their communities’ strengths to address the changes they want to see, and public resources can support their vision. Over the long term, with increased safety and accessibility, Safe Routes to Parks seeks to increase park usage and improve health and well-being for people of all ages, races, abilities, and income levels.

Why Safe Routes to Parks Pennsylvania Activating Communities?

In 2022-2023, Safe Routes Partnership is spearheading a brand-new, state-level Safe Routes to Parks technical assistance program. The state of Pennsylvania is one of the three participating states in the Safe Routes to Parks Accelerator. Pennsylvania’s participating state agencies and the four nonprofit organizations will receive technical assistance in parallel to build capacity at both the grassroots and state agency levels to advance this state-wide effort.  Read more about the Safe Routes to Parks Accelerator here.

 

Program:

The Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities program provides planning assistance, along with a $10,000 award to four nonprofit organizations in the state of Pennsylvania to develop and initiate action plans to increase safe and equitable access to parks and green spaces in their communities. Safe Routes Partnership will provide Activating Communities grantees planning assistance that centers around a two-day workshop to develop an implementable action plan guided by the Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework.  The grantee communities will work closely with Safe Routes Partnership staff to proactively engage community members in the process of assessing park access, putting together an action plan to address barriers, and begin implementing that plan.

The Coronavirus Pandemic: Grantees should abide by local public health guidance and consider any emerging health trends in their community in order to creatively and safely engage with community members. Safe Routes Partnership staff can provide support to help grantee organizations think through the possibilities while maintaining everyone’s safety.

 

Expectations:

The period of grant activities will be from January to September 2023. Safe Routes Partnership staff and grantees will collaboratively plan and host a two-day convening for community stakeholders to develop an action plan for creating safe, convenient, and equitable walking and biking routes to parks and open spaces. Safe Routes Partnership will facilitate the action planning workshops, with planning support from the grantees, and write an action plan report to document the goals, priorities, and actions discussed during the in-person workshop.

During this nine-month technical assistance period, grantees will actively participate in:

  • Monthly coaching calls with Safe Routes Partnership staff.
  • Leading community engagement and assessment activities prior to the action plan workshop.
  • Planning a two-day action planning workshop facilitated by and with support from Safe Routes Partnership staff.
  • Implementing at least one early implementation action aligned with the action plan.
  • Completing grant-related documentation including submission of a final report, post-workshop evaluation, and a program experience assessment.

Because this is primarily a technical assistance award for planning with funding to implement an activity from the action plan, historically, grantees that are working on aligned efforts have had greater success than organizations beginning this work with no additional staff time, support, or history working on park access. Here are examples of previous Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities grantee accomplishments:

 

Eligibility:

  • Applicants must show a commitment to advancing racial and social equity.
  • Applicants must be nonprofit organizations located in the state of Pennsylvania that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and will be required to provide IRS documentation to receive the award.
  • Commitment from local agencies (e.g., parks, planning, and transportation decision-makers) to work together on improving safe, equitable park access will be necessary in this work. A letter of commitment from your local parks and recreation/ transportation agency or city manager/mayor is required.
  • While grantees are permitted to focus implementation actions at a single park, Safe Routes to Parks planning must occur at a system or partial system level. Funding must be used to advance implementation of the Safe Routes to Parks plan and planning process, and shall not be used solely for salaries or contracted support. 

 

Application:

To apply for the 2023 Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities program, click here. 

Applications will be accepted beginning October 14, 2022.  Sign up for Safe Routes Partnership e-news to receive email alerts with more information about the 2022-23 program and application process.

Applications are due by 11:59pm ET on December 2, 2022.

If you have any questions during the application process, please contact parks@saferoutespartnership.org.

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Program Application PDF

Information Session Webinar Recording

Information Session Webinar Slides