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Lotus blooms spring up from a still pond
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
NPS Photo / Kendra Barat
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NPF Invests $1.7 Million in Park Partners

Strong Parks, Strong Communities Grants Will Fund 41 New Projects

The National Park Foundation (NPF) has again committed to making strategic investments in the park partner community. After a competitive grant process with compelling proposals from across the country, NPF will be funding an unprecedented 41 projects over the next year and beyond through our Strong Parks, Strong Communities program, with a commitment of over $1.7 million in the growth of our nonprofit park partners.

While some partners are working to develop their capacity through new technology, website redesigns, and creative visitor engagement, others will prioritize strategic planning development, the launch of fundraising campaigns, or professional leadership development. All of the projects help address the current needs of park partners across the country, ensuring that each organization is stronger and more resilient for the next chapter in its history.

Past Strong Parks, Strong Communities Projects

Ice Age Trail Alliance Volunteers
Ice Age Trail Alliance Volunteers - Ice Age Trail Alliance

Since 2017, the National Park Foundation’s (NPF) Strong Parks, Strong Communities program has sought to enhance the capacity of local park partner organizations, offering peer-to-peer learning and pathways to collective action in the hope of bringing park philanthropy to an elevated level. In 2020, as the state of park partnership faced its newest challenge in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, NPF empowered partners to design their own plans for building organizational capacity through this grant program’s inaugural round. NPF invested over $670,000 in 36 partner organizations’ capacity building efforts through 2021 and will invest another $1.7 million over the next year through the support of these new projects.

2022 Strong Parks, Strong Communities Recipients

Elevated wood path leads into a tropical forest
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (iStock / photo75)
Blooming flowers amid a rolling landscape at sunset
Blue Ridge Parkway (iStock / WerksMedia)

Capacity building projects have been completely customized to the needs and goals each individual partner organizations – whether that be to drive change locally that others in the partner community may emulate, design inclusive communication strategies to welcome more visitors to national parks, or any of the other countless opportunities for park partnership growth. These investments will help park partners to reach their mission goals with greater success and may even have the potential to be catalytic or movement building for park philanthropy nationwide. Each of these exciting projects will take place throughout 2022 and into 2023.

2022 SPSC Capacity Building Grantees

Accokeek Foundation is developing a new management plan as well as an interpretation plan to share the significance of Indigenous culture and history of Piscataway Park. 

Big Bend Conservancy is producing a visitor video, which will serve as a "what to know before you come to Big Bend National Park" educational tool.

Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is creating a strategic plan that will guide efforts to engage larger and more diverse audiences at the park’s Blue Ridge Music Center, increase the variety and volume of the music center’s financial resources, and increase tourism spending in a rural, economically distressed region.

Boston Harbor Now, Inc is launching a pilot program for the Stone Living Lab Summer Teacher Institute.

Channel Islands Park Foundation will hire an Executive Director as the Foundation’s first employee to catalyze the organization’s fundraising.

Eastern National & Western National Parks Association are identifying gaps and opportunities to incorporate justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion into their internal operations, partner relations, and service delivery.

Essex National Heritage Commission, Inc is working with subject experts from under-represented communities to the area’s digital and print material and better understand of the great diversity of stories that exist within the Essex National Heritage Area.

Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is expanding its mission to partner with an additional NPS site, Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, which currently operates without an existing Friends Group. 

Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens will build upon their year-round fundraising strategy with a significant focus on developing a corporate sponsorship program for the annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival.

Friends of Mammoth Cave is building a communications strategy and planning a web/social media redesign, as well as supporting an outreach team at the visitor center to attract new memberships.

Block 22 at Minidoka NHS
Minidoka National Historic Site - NPS Photo / Stan Honda

Friends of Minidoka Inc will create new communication and engagement tools, professionalize philanthropic processes, and strengthen donor engagement and relationships.

Friends of San Juan National Historic Site, Inc is implementing a series of educational events aimed at expanding its donor base and increase fundraising.

Gateway Arch Park Foundation is building upon a DEI audit that led to the development of an actionable, long-term DEI plan.

Glacier National Park Conservancy is streamlining their grant applications and fundraising efforts through a long-term visioning process alongside Glacier National Park.

Glen Canyon Conservancy is expanding contact with the public in the remote, popular reaches of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area by providing visitor information and services through a mobile visitor center 4x4 truck. 

Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is continuing to implement its equitable access vision at the new Presidio Tunnel Tops.

Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is exploring the creation of a regenerative community in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with the intention of serving as a case study for future regenerative communities across the National Park Service.

Ice Age Trail Alliance is entering Phase II of its Stakeholder Sustainability Project, which is measuring the Alliance’s ability to create structural parity in decision making, engage and empower new voices, and create a base of support that reflects the diversity of the nation.

Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy is developing a cohesive plan and communications strategy to bring together multiple initiatives at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field—an underutilized 1,300-acre park within Gateway National Recreation Area (GATE).

Joshua Tree National Park Association is focusing on board development, software review and upgrades, and website additions and enhancement for the Association, all built on the cornerstone of increased and diversified stakeholder engagement and accessibility. 

Mississippi Park Connection is creating a program plan for youth education at the new River Learning Center and NPS headquarters that is designed in collaboration with formal educators, including both classroom teachers as well as environmental and tribal groups and educators.

National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation is bringing necessary capacity to employ the Foundation’s Executive Director full time, add a half time support staff, and hire a grant writer on an hourly basis, all in the effort to develop an implementation plan to fully decarbonize all five NPS units on Lake Superior.

North Country Trail Association is creating a Trail Protection program that will enable NCTA to secure access to and protect the landscape of the trail for future generations.

Point Reyes National Seashore Association will be mentored by two leading partner groups with deep inclusion experience, aligning with NPS on these efforts, and piloting an expanded model for park partnerships.

Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation is launching the Partners of Creative Economy, a new vision for building capacity and placemaking throughout the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.

Rock Creek waterfall
Rock Creek Park - NPS Photo / Thomas Paradis

Rock Creek Conservancy is building its capacity to secure additional resources that will ensure and sustain the future of Rock Creek’s forests, and thus the climate resilience of the park.

Santa Monica Mountains Fund will be transitioning from a semi-voluntary to a professional organization, with the addition of corporate partnerships and grant writing staff.

Save the Dunes Conservation Fund, Inc is launching a development and branding campaign to increase membership and support for the organization’s 70th anniversary.

Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park is building a tool for citizen science analysis in both Acadia National Park and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument that will be transferable across the NPS and its partners.

The Alliance for Florida's National Parks is hiring a Development Officer on the west coast of Florida.

The Last Green Valley, Inc is transforming its work with the creation of a new CORE Center – a Corridor Gateway, Operational Headquarters, Relationship Hub and Education Center – that will be a highly visible symbol of a vibrant National Heritage Corridor.

The Sandy Hook Foundation is identifying and placing trained members on its Board of Trustees.

USS Constitution Museum, Inc. is building its capacity to manage a major capital campaign, including the development of a strategic communications plan, a board visioning and training workshop, staff training on successful tactics for fundraising cultivation and solicitation, and more.

Valley Forge Park Alliance is continuing its capital campaign to move its headquarters to the historic Maurice Stephens House on the Grand Parade of the Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Voyageurs Conservancy is supporting the Conservancy’s efforts to acquire a van as a mobile classroom, a program management database, digital content development, and program design collaboration on Native American history.

Washington's National Park Fund is creating a new staff position, which will serve as the key link between the “Together for the Parks” strategic growth campaign and WNPF’s core operations.

Whiskeytown Environmental School Community is setting up the donor base and spreading the word about its recently launched capital campaign through website and social media development, branding, and graphic design.

NPS Photo - St. Croix NSR near Osceola
St. Croix National Scenic Riverway - NPS Photo / John Eret

Wild Rivers Conservancy of the St. Croix & Namekagon is creating a mobile visitor center to increase interactions with the public, increase the Conservancy's capacity to advance both the Riverway and its organizational mission through the enhancement of the visitor experience.

Wing Luke Memorial Foundation is supporting the creation of art installations, guided tours, map distribution, website launch, and marker/signage design to expand visitor engagement and storytelling along the NPS’ Redlining Heritage Trail.

Yellowstone Forever is working internally to build effective alignment across all dimensions of the organization to create optimal outcomes and build an effective, impactful, sustainable culture.

Zion National Park Forever Project is facilitating a collaborative planning initiative to create a place-based education and interpretation program for the East Zion Visitor Center.

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