Application deadline is July 10
Do you have a park project that lacks funding in a community that currently doesn’t have access to a local park? Is your community struggling to fund the redevelopment of an under-utilized and aging park? If you answered yes to either of these questions and you live in an urban area, you might be leaving money on the table, especially if you aren’t applying for the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP) grants.
ORLP Grants Support Urban Spaces
The ORLP grants are a subset of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and have long been a priority for NRPA. Due to the price of land and other factors, LWCF funding was largely going to more suburban and rural areas. Thus, the ORLP program was designed to provide larger grants to more urban areas that lack access to parks.
The program has funded some truly amazing projects in its short lifetime. For this grant cycle, the Department of Interior has identified priorities, which include connecting underserved communities and projects that support economic growth and jobs in a community. It’s important to consider all of these factors when applying. This information can be found in the notice of funding.
Do I Qualify?
While cities like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago certainly meet ORLP’s definition of “urban area,” so do cities like Dubuque, Iowa. The definition the National Park Service uses when determining eligibility specifies that the area must have more than 50,000 residents and be one of the United States Census Bureau’s urbanized areas. The current population list the Census Bureau uses dates back to 2010 and has 497 eligible areas. To check to see if your city qualifies, visit the Census Bureau’s list or learn more about the definition on the Census Bureau’s website.
How to Apply
Localities that are interested in applying for the grant must go through their state. However, the National Park Service decides which projects receive grants. Each state may nominate up to four proposals that the National Park Service will select for this funding round. In order to apply, you’ll need to reach out to your state LWCF administrator; find this contact information on the National Park Service website. Your state LWCF administer will be able to provide information on how they plan to select the four projects that your state will submit to the National Park Service for consideration.
During this grant cycle, the National Park Service will be awarding $40 million for projects. The awards provide funding between $300,000 and $1 million. That means a lot of money is going out the door, and it could benefit your community. It’s important to remember that ORLP is a part of LWCF and as such, there are strict matching requirements and rules about the use of the land after receiving the ORLP grants. Information on the rules is provided in the notice of funding. The matching requirement can be met using any non-federal money, so be sure to talk to your community and state to ensure you have access to the matching funds when applying.
These grants have the power to transform underinvested local communities that currently don’t have access to local parks. If your community has these needs and meets the eligibility standards, don’t leave this money on the table. Applications from the states are due to the National Park Service by July 10, 2020, so contact your state soon to ensure you meet their upcoming deadlines.
Kyle Simpson is Senior Government Affairs Manager at NRPA.