Applications Now Open: 2021 Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities

With generous funding from The JPB Foundation, the Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities Program will be accepting applications for awards for seven organizations in 2021. This will be the fourth cohort of communities in the Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities program.

Watch a recording of the grant information session.


  • Application available: November 9, 2020
  • Applications due: December 18, 2020 by 11:59 p.m. PT
  • Awards announced: Late January
  • Program implementation: February – September 2021
  • Orientation and framework training: February 10, 2021
  • Equity in Safe Routes to Parks training: March 3, 2021

Stay Informed


Safe Routes to Parks is a movement to make great parks safer and easier for people to access by walking, bicycling, and taking public transportation, especially in low-income communities and communities of color, where less investment has gone into the routes to and the amenities in parks. The coronavirus pandemic and the latest chapter of the civil rights movement that have characterized most of 2020 have simultaneously underscored the benefits of safe, accessible outdoor spaces and emphasized that racial equity must play a central role in Safe Routes to Parks  and all active transportation advocacy. One element of a thriving, equitable community is that people can safely and conveniently access well-maintained, well-programmed parks and open spaces. Safe places to walk, bike, and connect with nature directly contribute to a community’s physical, mental, and social well-being.

Safe Routes Partnership, in collaboration with the National Recreation and Parks Association, developed the Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework to guide advocates through the process of assessing park access, planning improvements, implementing changes, and sustaining the work. Engagement is at the center of that process. Community members, as the local experts on their neighborhoods, are essential to the process of project selection, design, and implementation. Partnering with community leaders acknowledges the wisdom and assets that communities hold and can be the first step toward rectifying past and ongoing injustices built into our communities by racist land use and capital investment policies and practices. These decisions and policies, whether they intended to marginalize people of color or did so by neglecting to engage the people affected by these decisions, have led to poor health outcomes; less access to safe, high-quality public spaces; decreased physical activity; and higher rates of traffic-related injuries and fatalities among low-income communities and communities of color. Collectively, we have the opportunity and responsibility to create conditions that enable all people to thrive, where residents can build on their communities’ strengths to address the changes they want to see, and public resources can support their vision. Over the long term, with increased safety and accessibility, Safe Routes to Parks seeks to increase park usage and improve health and wellbeing for people of all ages, races, abilities, and income levels.

The Program

The Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities program provides tailored technical assistance, along with a $12,500 award for seven nonprofit organizations to develop and initiate action plans to increase safe and equitable access to parks and green space in their communities. Developed through a collaboration between Safe Routes Partnership and the National Recreation and Parks Association in 2017, the Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework provides a structured process for communities to approach this work. The grantee communities will work closely with Safe Routes Partnership staff from February through September 2021 to proactively engage community members in the process of assessing park access, putting together an action plan to address barriers, and begin implementing that plan.

The Coronavirus Pandemic: The ongoing uncertainties of the pandemic will require grantees to creatively and safely engage community members while abiding by local public health guidance limiting in-person gatherings. Safe Routes Partnership staff will provide support to help grantee organizations think through the possibilities while maintaining everyone’s safety.

Eligibility and Expectations


The period of grant activities will be from February to September 2021. During the grant period, grantees will actively participate in:

  • monthly coaching calls with Safe Routes Partnership staff,
  • virtual trainings with expert staff and peer communities,
  • work with Safe Routes Partnership staff to co-plan/host a workshop/training with Safe Routes Partnership staff contingent upon the pandemic status (Safe Routes Partnership will pay travel costs),
  • develop an action plan, and
  • implement at least one early action from the plan.

Safe Routes Partnership staff will work with grantees to creatively and safely engage community members while abiding with local public health COVID-19 guidance. Because this is primarily a technical assistance award for planning with funding to implement an activity from the action plan, historically, grantees that are working on aligned efforts have had greater success than organizations beginning this work with no additional staff time, support, or history working on park access. Here are examples of previous Grantee’s Work:


  • Applicants must show a commitment to advancing racial and social equity.
  • Applicants must be nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and will be required to provide IRS documentation to receive the award.
  • Commitment from local agencies (e.g., parks, planning, and transportation decision makers) to work together on improving safe, equitable park access will be necessary in this work. A letter of commitment from your local parks and recreation/ transportation agency or city manager/mayor is required.
  • While grantees are permitted to focus implementation actions at a single park, Safe Routes to Parks planning must occur at a system or partial system level. Funding must be used to advance implementation of the Safe Routes to Parks plan and planning process, and shall not be used solely for salaries or contracted support. 

Applications will be accepted beginning November 9, 2020. The application form will be posted on this page. Sign up for Safe Routes Partnership e-news to receive email alerts with more information about the 2020-2021 program and application process.

Applications are due by 11:59 PM PT on December 18th, 2020. We anticipate announcing awards in late January. 

If you have any questions during the application process, please contact

The Safe Routes Partnership is a national nonprofit that works to advance safe walking and bicycling to and from schools, to improve the health and wellbeing of kids of all races, income levels, and abilities, and to foster the creation of healthy communities for everyone.