NRPA report details DEI efforts within park and recreation agencies
According to the 2023 NRPA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Parks and Recreation Report, virtually every park and recreation agency across the United States has activities and policies that promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) outcomes. Two-thirds of agencies currently have formal DEI programs — an eight-percentage-point increase over the 2021 survey results — and formal DEI programs are more common at park and recreation agencies that serve highly populated communities. The most common DEI activities at agencies include: hiring practices and policies; staff education/skill development; volunteer education/skill development; commitment to DEI in vision, mission or strategic plan; and community engagement policies.
Key findings from the report include:
- Nearly two in three park and recreation agencies have established formal DEI activities or plan to establish them in the immediate future.
- Ninety-two percent of park and recreation agencies offer DEI education and resources to their staff.
- Six in seven park and recreation leaders agree that park and recreation inequity is a problem nationally.
- Agencies’ DEI staff leaders include directors, senior leadership, dedicated staff, human resources employees and program staff.
“Starting small and being consistent is better than doing nothing at all when it comes to advancing DEI efforts,” said Kevin Roth, NRPA vice president of research, evaluation and technology. “Part of centering equity is progress over perfection, and at NRPA we recognize there’s always more work to be done. We are proud to continue supporting park and recreation professionals in their quest to growing vibrant, inclusive and resilient communities.”
In April 2023, the NRPA Research team surveyed park and recreation leaders to gain a better understanding of their agencies’ efforts surrounding DEI practices. The 20-question survey, a follow-up to a 2021 study, took inventory of park and recreation agency DEI activities, the professional development opportunities provided to agency staff and volunteers, and the challenges organizations face in their efforts to promote DEI practices.
Quality parks and recreation is essential to individual and community health, well-being and resilience. At NRPA, it is our mission to help build vibrant and thriving communities by supporting park and recreation professionals in meeting their emerging and future challenges.
One challenge — and strength — within most communities is difference: in race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, socioeconomic status, age, language, or physical or mental abilities and skills. Differences “meet” on the playground; park and recreation professionals operate at the intersection of those differences.
Since 2013, Equity has been one of NRPA’s Three Pillars: Health and Wellness, Equity, and Conservation. These three areas of focus have moved the park and recreation field from communicating “what we do” to focusing on the impact we have. This includes NRPA centering equity in all of its work. Conversations, learning opportunities and research have been integral parts of NRPA’s focus.
To read NRPA’s 2023 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Parks and Recreation Report, click here.
To learn more about NRPA, visit nrpa.org.
About the National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals and advocates — the catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being. For more information, visit nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit parksandrecreation.org.