OAKLAND, Calif. — In celebration of National Park Rx Day and this year’s National Park Centennial, Kaiser Permanente is announcing $2 million in grants to advance a range of initiatives focused on growing programs that connect people to parks, park policy to support sustainability and best practices within park departments, and the number of parks. The investment supports 11 community organizations that currently have local, regional, statewide and national efforts underway.
“Instinctively we know that being outdoors has a way of making us feel better, and research has established that having access to natural areas is vital to our overall well-being,” said Yener Balan, MD, FAPA, executive director of Behavioral Health in Kaiser Permanente in northern California. “However, while everyone can benefit from being outside, residents in many low-income communities face significant barriers in accessing safe outdoor spaces, and often times, can have higher rates of chronic stress and obesity.”
The $2 million parks investment, some of which was awarded through the organization’s donor advised fund at the East Bay Community Foundation, is part of Kaiser Permanente’s focus on advancing health equity through support for community organizations that are working to promote healthy lifestyles and build safe public environments. Specifically, the grants will support programs that encourage at-risk youth, seniors, communities of color and residents from low-income communities to visit parks and enjoy outdoor physical activity. The grants also support strengthening advocacy efforts that align with the Healthy Parks Healthy People movement.
Two grant awardees — Youth Outside, an Oakland group, and the Outdoor Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based organization — will expand the reach of the grants with support for more than a dozen other community organizations across northern California.
“This support from Kaiser Permanente will enable us to expand our grant-making and get more kids into parks who would otherwise not have the opportunity to do so,” said Kim Moore Bailey, executive director at Youth Outside. “The grantees we’ve selected have high quality, culturally relevant programs that are grounded in local parks, and are focused on getting underserved and underrepresented youth out into nature.”
According to Christine Fanning, executive director at the Outdoor Foundation, Kaiser Permanente’s investment is unique in its reach and scope.
“Kaiser Permanente’s charitable investment in connecting people to parks demonstrates its visionary approach to proactively supporting healthy communities and represents an extraordinary model for companies in the health care industry as well as other sectors across the country. It’s time we all joined together to ensure that people — from all backgrounds — are engaged, active and have access to the great outdoors.”
Grant recipients include:
- Bay Area Open Space Council, Berkeley, received a $75,000 grant for its Outdoor Voice initiative that generates awareness about the connection between parks and open spaces with health and wellbeing as well as in and increases community participation in park advocacy efforts.
- California Center for Public Health Advocacy/HEAL Cities Campaign headquartered in Davis with offices in Oakland, Stockton and Los Angeles, received a $250,000 for its campaign to engage cities in adopting and implementing municipal policies that increase access to healthy lifestyle choices and to develop a “Complete Park System” framework.
- California State Parks Foundation, headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Sacramento and Los Angeles, received a $75,000 grant to expand its Northern California Summer Enrichment Program to give more low-income youth a chance to participate in health-focused programs that bridge the summer learning gap and improve academic performance.
- ChangeLab Solutions in Oakland received a $150,000 grant to develop tools and provide technical assistance to California communities to support “complete park systems” that have adequate funding, infrastructure, services and health guidelines.
- Regional Parks Foundation, based in Oakland, received an $85,000 grant to support its projects that increase access to the Regional Parks for underserved, under-resourced communities and enhance multi-cultural awareness and sensitivity among programs and staff.
- Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, based in San Francisco, received a $300,000 grant in support of the Healthy Parks Healthy People: Bay Area program, a collaborative of park and health agencies working to increase accessibility and use of parks for health related activities.
- KaBOOM!, headquartered in Washington with an office in San Bruno, received a $500,000 grant to support partnerships with community organizations that will result in engaging community and Kaiser Permanente volunteers in building new playgrounds in high need areas of Fresno, Stockton and Modesto.
- Legal Aide Society, based in San Francisco, received a $35,000 grant to develop training for parks and recreation staff and other key community stakeholders on statewide gender equity laws with the goal of increasing youth participation in sports activities.
- Outdoor Foundation, Washington, D.C., received a $200,000 grant for its matching grant program which supports community-based projects connecting people to parks. The grant will be matched by the National Park Service’s Challenge Cost Share program.
- Trust for Public Land, San Francisco, received a $100,000 grant to lead a replicable assessment and planning process to help city government, community partners and other stakeholders work together to enhance Fresno’s park and recreation system.
- Youth Outside, Oakland, received a $300,000 grant that will provide funding, capacity-building support and networking resources to community organizations that provide parks-based outdoor programs for underrepresented youth.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 10 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.