The ORLP, established in 2014, enables urban communities to create new outdoor recreation spaces, reinvigorate existing parks, and form connections between people and the outdoors in economically underserved communities. This nationally competitive grant program delivers funding to urban areas — jurisdictions of at least 50,000 people — with priority given to projects located in economically disadvantaged areas and lacking in outdoor recreation opportunities.
The National Park Service is currently accepting applications for $192 million in ORLP grants. Applications will be accepted in Grants.gov through May 31, 2023, with an early submission deadline of January 31, 2023.
View the Notice of Funding Opportunity.
ORLP is supported by funding available through Land and Water Conservation Act and is administered specifically under the authority of Section 200305, Financial Assistance to States. This means ORLP projects must meet the same requirements as projects supported by the LWCF formula grant program, including the requirement that the assisted site be maintained and accessible exclusively for public outdoor recreation use, in perpetuity. This applies to the assisted park or area as a whole, not just the area assisted with funds.To be eligible, projects must be directly located in communities that are:
- low-income and
- lack adequate parks or other outdoor recreation spaces
Further, priority is given to projects that:
- Increase access to nature’s benefits, such as green spaces and natural landscapes
- Engage members of the targeted economically disadvantaged community in all aspects of the development and implementation the project
- Create or expand public-private partnerships that leverage matching share (cash or in-kind)
- Demonstrate coordination among government agencies, the private sector, and the public
- Advance the goals of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) as well as other local, regional, and state plans and/or initiatives
The current Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) states that projects must "serve the specific needs of a community(ies) that is (are) severely lacking in walkable, publicly accessible, outdoor recreation (“park deserts”), and that has a poverty rate of at least 20% or that is at least 10% higher than that of the project city, county, and state rates)."
In the underlined section, what is meant is that community (based on its Census Tract) must be a full 10 percentage points above the highest poverty rate of the city, county and state. For example, a community in a Census Tract with a poverty rate of only 18% would have to be within a city, county and state each having a rate of not more than 8% to be eligible.
The urban, economically-disadvantaged community served by the proposed park/site must be within an incorporated city or town having a population of 30,000 or more per the 2020 U.S. Census. The proposed park/project site must be within or abut the city, but must still be within a 10-minute walk (.5 miles) of the community served.
Entities interested in seeking funding under the ORLP program should contact their State’s Lead Agency to get details about their State’s process for selecting and nominating projects to the National Park Service’s national competition.