2023 Grants Challenge

Park Power: Equity and Justice in LA

With this grant, we will plan, design and build more parks and gardens across LA County. As an urban park and garden land trust, we will expand access to greenspaces in under-resourced communities. We will organize events and celebrations at our parks and gardens to foster connections and cultural diversity. We will partner with community members to lead in development of new open spaces by offering leadership programs and technical assistance. By doing this, we will improve public health and well-being, and strengthen community resilience.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Green Space, Park Access, and Trees

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Fernando Valley

South LA

South Bay

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Applying a proven model or solution to a new issue or sector (e.g., using a job recruiting software or strategy to match clients to supportive housing sites, applying demonstrated strategies from advocating for college affordability to advocating for housing affordability and homelessness, etc.)

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Where you live, your income, and your race determine whether you have a park or garden nearby. Los Angeles is one of the worst U.S. cities in terms of park availability, access, investment and amenities. This problem affects low-income communities of color the most. A 2016 study showed that 90% of the areas with high or very high park need were populated by people of color. Lack of green space is linked to poor health outcomes. For example, people in Beverly Hills live 12 years longer than people in Watts. They also have lower rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Green space access correlates to public health benefits, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lower self-reported stress, lower rates of crime and domestic violence, and improved air and water quality. Children living within two-thirds of a mile from a park can be up to 500% more likely to have a healthy weight, and exposure to nature can reduce stress by almost 33%.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

The grant will support our innovative park equity work across Los Angeles County. We will identify new greenspace projects, continue to plan and design parks in central and south Los Angeles. We will involve residents in every stage of the process, from identifying spaces and designing projects to managing and maintaining them. We will operate our 15 park and garden projects that are maintained by our community-led park stewards. The grant will also support free community programs that provide resources for adults and children at our parks. Our participatory planning work is based on four pillars: organizing, design, development, and stewardship. We start with deep community engagement and stakeholder involvement, where residents share their vision and priorities for their neighborhoods. We then create parks and gardens that reflect their needs and preferences. We also train residents to become urban land stewards who care for and manage their green spaces. We keep our parks active by providing free programming that focuses on health and wellness, such as nutrition, gardening, Zumba, and art classes. We also organize events and workshops that promote park access and community-building, such as public safety planning, vacant lot transformation, youth leadership development, and education. Our stewards help to keep our sites clean and safe so that they can serve as welcoming spaces for mental well-being and healthy lifestyles.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Imagine a region where everyone can enjoy green spaces that nourish their body, mind, and soul. A community where no matter who you are, where you live, or how much you earn, you can find a park or garden within walking distance, where nature is not a luxury, but a right for health and well-being. That's the Los Angeles we are working to create. We know that green spaces are not just places to play and relax, but also sources of life and hope. They can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce stress, prevent crime and domestic violence, and enhance air and water quality. They can also foster community empowerment and leadership, as residents get involved in the design and development of new parks and gardens. They can provide access to fresh produce and vibrant social life, as neighbors grow food and celebrate together. They can also address environmental challenges such as urban heat island effect, ecosystem restoration, better air quality, and reduce stormwater runoff.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

This is an existing initiative established from twenty years of work across LA County. We will measure our success in these ways: - Attendance and feedback at free programs offered at our parks and gardens. Including participant satisfaction and opportunities for improvement - Quality of our parks and gardens by coordinating with maintenance vendors, addressing issues promptly, and managing operations in coordination with our Park Stewards - Occupancy rate of our garden plots and satisfaction of gardeners by collecting feedback during monthly garden meetings - Develop and support Park Stewards by providing trainings on topics such as conflict resolution and sustainable landscaping, collect feedback after the trainings - Complete at least two new community identified and designed park and green space projects that include sustainability features and art elements - Identify and start planning on at least two additional greenspaces in under-resourced communities in LA County

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 1,000

Indirect Impact: 500,000