Change Grant program is one of the most popular initiatives, offering $1,500 in community stipends to projects across the United States that support healthy, active, and engaging spaces for people to live, work, and play. The awardees work with America Walks and other organizations within the Every Body Walk! Collaborative to complete their projects and share the results with similar community groups.
America Walks is a leader in providing support, training, and technical assistance to help communities make walking safe, equitable, accessible, and enjoyable. The national non-profit, established in 1996, went through more than 600 applications in 2018 and selected 18 projects for the 2019 year. Here are just a couple of the highlights from this year’s grantees.
Cully Park, a 25-acre park in the Cully neighborhood in northeast Portland, Oregon, is a great example of urban renewal of existing landscapes into something new. This park was built on top of a former landfill in what is considered “Portland’s most diverse, park deprived neighborhood,” according to Let Us Build Cully Park, a Cully Park website created by Verde, a Cully-based non-profit that helped develop the park alongside the City of Portland Parks and Recreation department.
While Cully Park was under construction, members of the community indicated they wanted to help other members of the community access the park, which was located across a busy intersection on a dead-end street. They suggested a community-run walking group to help reduce those barriers, while also promoting walkability and active lifestyles, and even acting as a community foot patrol to keep the community clean and safe. The three walking group leaders, who are all low-income Latinx, each receive gift cards for leading two walks per month and doing neighborhood outreach. All three received professional neighborhood watch training through the City of Portland. The program, now in its third year, is looking to expand with three new leaders, more training, and more locations to walk to, and the America Walks Community Change Grant will support this expansion.
In another example of urban renewal, the proposed Big Splash water park in Red Bluff, California, aims to help the community improve positive park use. The water park is part of a larger project to revitalize the existing rural park and the bikeway trail that runs past it. The goal is to ensure the finished product is inclusive for children and families with disabilities, well-lit for the sense of safety, and accessible for cyclists and pedestrians. The Community Change Grant will support the City of Red Bluff, Soroptimist International of Red Bluff, and the local residents and stakeholders as they complete this project.
Typically, applications open in the fall, with grants awarded for the full calendar year that follows. Grants awarded depend on funding available and may change from year to year. Visit the America Walks website for more information about the Community Change Grant program.