2023 Grants Challenge
🎉 Runner Up

Safe, Walkable, Green Neighborhoods For All

LANI partners with residents, businesses, community groups, and local leaders to create vibrant neighborhood improvements and increase equitable access to parks and open spaces, safe pedestrian environments with trees and greenery, local beautification and placemaking, and enhanced transit hubs. Understanding that community members know their neighborhoods best, LANI empowers people to take an active role in planning and building the neighborhood improvements they need and want. Together, we revitalize neighborhoods, one block at a time.


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?

County 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?

Parks, green spaces and tree canopy are essential infrastructure with significant, proven benefits to people's physical and mental health. However according to the L.A. Countywide Parks & Recreation Needs Assessment, 51% of residents do not live within a 1/2 mile radius of a park. The majority of neighborhoods with High to Very High park need are home primarily to people who are low-income and/or people of color. A recent study by UCLA public health researchers found that increasing park space in every park-poor L.A. County census tract to the current median of 54 acres per tract would dramatically increase longevity among predominantly Black and Latino residents and help reduce current health disparities in the region. Mental health is also significantly related to residential distance from parks (Sturm & Cohen). L.A. County's current lack of park equity contributes to poor physical and mental health outcomes for people in under-served neighborhoods.

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

LANI partners with residents, businesses, community groups and local leaders to create walkable, green, safe neighborhoods with equitable access to parks and open spaces. LANI promotes community members as the experts on their own neighborhoods and implements park and greening projects from concept to completion. LANI has completed 25 parks and green spaces on blighted or under-utilized lots. Currently, we are building a community-designed park in a High Need neighborhood in South L.A. on an empty median; this new park will connect with the Tot Lot we completed in 2020 on an abandoned partial parcel across the street. We recently planted 52 new street trees along pedestrian corridors connecting residents and commuters to L.A. City College and helped maintain our urban tree canopy's health by trimming overgrown trees throughout the City of L.A. We are now partnering with community members and the County Dept. of Public Health to create pedestrian plans in unincorporated neighborhoods to promote healthier walking environments with increased shade; we are in the process of adding school greening and green alley projects to our portfolio; and, we are always communicating with community members to identify new potential park and greening projects. LANI will continue to engage and empower historically disenfranchised people to plan and build more parks and green spaces in their under-served neighborhoods, creating tangible health and quality of life benefits, block by block.

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

Our County will be different because new people will be engaged in building new parks and planting new green spaces in our most in-need neighborhoods. We will identify potential new park or greening projects by building and deepening relationships with local municipal departments, city council offices, county and city parks departments, other nonprofit agencies in the greening space, community groups, and individual community members. This pre-development work is essential to regional greening efforts and is unfunded by project-specific grants. The people who live, work, and learn in neighborhoods are the experts on their own needs and on local opportunity sites. L.A. County will also be different because community members will, through contact with LANI, connect with decision-makers and learn to use their power to improve their neighborhoods. Uplifting local voices to improve communities' built environments is the core of our work and a powerful foundation for transformational change.

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

There is ample research to prove that the addition of new parks and green spaces to neighborhoods that are "park poor" or "high need" has many positive impacts for local residents, including on their physical and mental health. So, our measure of impact is the simple addition of parks and green spaces, project by project, neighborhood by neighborhood. For the purposes of this project, LANI will identify at least 3 new park or greening project opportunities. These may include pocket parks, tot lots, or green open recreational spaces on city-owned land or right of ways, green alleys, or school greening projects. We will also work with at least 6 new local leaders, community groups, nonprofit organizations, or individual community members to identify park needs and opportunities and strategize with them about how to make the opportunities into realities. Engaging in robust project pre-development is the first step to adding much needed green open and recreational space in the County.

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

Direct Impact: 100

Indirect Impact: 5,000,000