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Grants Focus on Key Barriers to Parks: Parks Equity Roundtable identifies barriers local organizations can focus on

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Eliminating those barriers is a longstanding commitment for Marin County Parks. In 2021, its representatives joined Marin’s leaders and local partnering organizations to work toward equitable park access through a new Parks Equity Roundtable.

San Rafael, CA – Over the next few months, up to $200,000 will be awarded to Marin County community-based organizations to help overcome barriers and connect communities to parks. The maximum grant is $8,000 per applicant.

Marin County Parks is collaborating to overcome structural barriers that sometimes prevent Marin’s communities of color and other groups from enjoying parks and recreational opportunities.

Eliminating those barriers is a longstanding commitment for Marin County Parks. In 2021, its representatives joined Marin’s leaders and local partnering organizations to work toward equitable park access through a new Parks Equity Roundtable. Over the past year, the group has convened to build community, share resources, and overcome structural barriers preventing Marin’s communities of color and other groups from enjoying parks and recreational opportunities.

Most recently the roundtable members met to discuss barriers caused by and changes to county park fees and reservations policies. Conversations reinforced the value of Parks’ community grant program and its combined approach of providing free access with engaging programming through trusted relationships.

Data from a 2017 Parks visitor survey and 2021 Parks youth survey showed that County of Marin-owned regional parks attract significantly more racial diversity compared to open spaces that feature trails but fewer facilities. The parks best accommodate social gatherings of family and friends, a priority of many underserved groups including youths aged 13 to 24 and people of color according to the survey data. Roundtable leaders expressed that an approach that combines fee policy changes with expanded community-based organization and school partnerships would help maximize positive impacts for underserved Marin residents.

Even if not seeking the grant funding, Marin organizations working to improve social equity and remove barriers to parks can apply for limited free access to picnic areas and group sites to bring their programs outdoors. A form is available on the Community Grants webpage.

The roundtable specifically urged Marin County Parks and grant applicants this year to focus on empowering youth ambassadors to build relationships between their peers and parks; connecting across schools and other organizations to work on new program development, outreach, and engagement; providing engaging, culturally relevant art, music, health, and other culturally and linguistically appropriate events for all ages, with BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) and/or bilingual staff; shuttle services to park outings; and fostering cultural relevance and centering communities of color in decision making.

Established in 2014, Parks’ Breathe (Respira in Spanish) Community Grant Program invites local community organizations to complete an online form and apply for the competitive grants that facilitate more visits to local parks, introduces new residents to recreation via public outreach, and provides bridges to enjoying the outdoors. All qualifying criteria and funding restrictions, along with detailed information about the program and grant decision-making process, are available on the Breathe/Respira overview.

Parks will consider funding projects or programs that support an underserved community as long as that community is adequately described in relation to the Breathe/Respira program. Proposals will be reviewed after the June 2 application deadline, and grants will be recommended in July in partnership with the Parks and Open Space Commission. They will be announced in August following approval of grant agreements by the Board of Supervisors.

Breathe/Respira is funded by Parks Measure A, a countywide quarter-cent sales tax otherwise known as the Marin Parks, Open Space, and Sustainable Agriculture Transactions and Use Tax Ordinance of 2022. Parks and open space preserves across Marin are being cared for like never before thanks to Measure A. To find out more about the range of benefits this tax measure is bringing to your favorite outdoor places, check out the most recent Parks annual report.

The post Grants Focus on Key Barriers to Parks: Parks Equity Roundtable identifies barriers local organizations can focus on first appeared on Post News Group. This article originally appeared in Post News Group.

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