NRPA’s public policy and advocacy team advances legislative and programmatic solutions that support our Three Pillars: Health and Wellness, Equity, and Conservation at the local, regional, and federal level.
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
The Land and Water Conservations Fund (LWCF) has protected our nation’s natural resources while providing recreation opportunities for all Americans for over 50 years. Thanks to the continued efforts of our [parks and rec] advocates, Congress permanently authorized LWCF in 2019 and then permanently funded it 2020, thus establishing this program as the nation’s most important conservation funding stream for public lands throughout the country.
NRPA supports robust funding through the annual federal appropriations process, including maintaining 40 percent dedicated funding for the state assistance program and investing in the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program, which is an urban parks focused competitive grant program.
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development administers The Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). These grants support local community activities like neighborhood revitalization, economic development, and improvement of community facilities, such as parks and recreation. Historically, this program has provided up to $100 million annually for park and recreation infrastructure.
Active transportation refers to human-propelled modes of transportation like walking or cycling. Multi-modal transportations systems, such as walking to a subway, make communities more accessible, people healthier, and environments cleaner by reducing pollution and the heat island effect. Active transportation systems can be particularly beneficial to Black, Brown, and low-income communities, which have often borne the brunt of pollution.
NRPA supports providing resources to local communities to expand public greenways that build networks of sidewalks, bike lanes and paths, investing in the accessibility and health of local communities. We call upon Congress to protect and maintain programs that connect communities, make streets safer, and promote healthy modes of transportation.
Specifically, as Congress debate the reauthorization of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act which expires in October 2021, NRPA urges that Congress support the Transportation Alternatives Program, including the Recreational Trails Program and Safe Routes to Schools. Combined, these programs provide approximately $800 million annually for bike and pedestrian projects and safety in local communities. NRPA also supports The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, which provides low-cost loans to local communities.
Health and Wellness
Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR)
Congress reauthorizes federal child nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), through the Child Nutrition Act every five years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture administers these programs and reimburses after-school and summer meal programs. Park and recreation agencies are the largest public provider of healthy meals and snacks to children outside of schools.
The current CNR authorization — the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 — expired in 2015, but the programs continue to operate under level funding. Congress is expected to consider this legislation sometime over the next two years.
NRPA supports investing in these vital federal programs that reduce childhood insecurity and strengthen families. Kids should be having fun over the summer, not worrying about where their next meal is coming from.
Chronic Disease Prevention and Management
NRPA, with the support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is funded directly to disseminate arthritis-appropriate evidence-based physical activity programs to improve the quality of life among people with arthritis and contribute to reductions in both arthritis-related medical costs and lost earnings.
300 park and recreation agencies across 48 states and American Samoa have offered more than 700 Arthritis-Appropriate Evidence Based Intervention (AAEBI) courses to approximately 20,000 participants. In addition, more than 2 million people across the country have been exposed to marketing materials promoting AAEBIs in park and recreation settings. Communities in states with a high prevalence of arthritis, such as Alabama, Michigan and Missouri, offered arthritis programs to help their community members to better manage their arthritis and live fuller, healthier lives.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention within the U.S. Department of Justice administers a federally funded Youth Mentoring Grant Program. The Youth Mentoring Grant Program is a critical support for young people who are at-risk of entering the juvenile justice system. A prevention and intervention strategy, the program identifies young people at times when they are the most likely to need support, helping hundreds of thousands of young people achieve positive academic, professional, and personal outcomes and deterring negative and risky behaviors, including drug abuse.
Park and recreation agencies deliver critical out-of-school time programming that helps local children deal with the many challenges of growing up, with 34 percent of agencies focusing their programming on youth mentoring and 18 percent of agencies focusing their programming on substance use prevention.
Out-of-School Time Programming
The 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) program is the only federal grant program that supports summer and afterschool learning programs. Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, 21st CCLC supports the establishment of local community-based educational programs for children in out-of-school time settings, particularly for low-income areas.
Park and recreation agencies provide safe places where kids can go when they are not in school. Local park and recreation agencies’ out-of-school time (OST) programs are leading providers of childcare in our nation — 84 percent offer summer camps; 63 percent, programming targeted specifically to teens; 55 percent, after-school programming; more than half, OST Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities that focus on the environment and project-based learning. These OST programs provide low-income households accessible, affordable, and safe spaces for their children to learn, have fun and grow.