To influence policy and persuade members of Congress to act, advocates must present compelling information about the immense value of parks and recreation to local communities. The advocacy resources below show how our public policy priorities match our "Three Pillars." Use them to learn about our issues and communicate effectively with elected officials.
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
Fresh off of winning historic support from Congress for permanent reauthorization of LWCF, NRPA supports ensuring robust funding through the yearly Congressional appropriations process. NRPA works to ensure Congress sticks to the authorized agreement on LWCF of 40% for the state assistance program and robust funding for the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) urban competitive grant program. NRPA also supports legislation that will provide dedicated full funding to LWCF introduced by Senators Manchin, Gardner, Cantwell and Burr (S. 1081).
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development administers The Community Development Block Grants. These grants support local community development activities aimed at 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.
NRPA calls upon Congress to protect and maintain dedicated funding for key programs that connect communities, make streets safer, and promote healthy modes of transportation such as walking and biking – accomplished primarily through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), including the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and Safe Routes to Schools, as well as Parks. Combined, these programs, found in the federal surface transportation law, known as the “FAST Act,” provide approximately $800 million annually for bike and pedestrian projects and to promote pedestrian and bicycling safety in local communities. The FAST Act funds surface transportation programs until October 2021.
NRPA also supports providing additional resources to local communities to build networks of sidewalks, bike lanes and paths with low-cost loans as part of the federal transportation financing program known as TIFIA.
Health and Wellness
Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR)
Every five years, the Child Nutrition Act is due for reauthorization to improve and strengthen the federal child nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) manages SFSP and CACFP. These programs provide reimbursement dollars for after-school and summer meal programs at park and recreation agencies. Park and recreation agencies are the largest public provider of healthy meals and snacks to children outside of schools. While the current authorization for the Child Nutrition Act, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, expired in September 2015, the programs continue to operate. Congress is expected to consider this legislation sometime over the next two years.
Chronic Disease Prevention and Management
NRPA, with the support of the CDC Arthritis Program, 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.
Because of these efforts, some 300 park and rec agencies across 48 states and American Samoa have offered more than 700 Arthritis- Appropriate Evidence Based Intervention (AAEBI) courses to close to 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, have also been able to offer arthritis programs to help the most underserved members in their communities manage their arthritis and live fuller, healthier lives.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) 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 throughout the country who are at-risk of entering the juvenile justice system. The program serves to act as a prevention and intervention strategy for young people at times when they are the most likely to need support, help hundreds of thousands of young people achieve positive academic, professional and personal outcomes; and deter young people away from negative and risky behaviors, including drug abuse.
Park and recreation agencies deliver 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 US 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 of local park and recreation agencies offer summer camps, 63 percent of local park and recreation agencies offer programming targeted specifically to teens, and 55 percent of local park and recreation agencies offer after-school programming. Additionally, more than half of park and recreation agencies offer OST Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities that focus on the environment and project-based learning and 57 percent of park and recreation professionals report that there are children participating in OST programs who live in households facing significant financial challenges.