The Parks & People Foundation (Parks & People) improves the quality of life in Baltimore by focusing on the physical, social and environmental fabric of urban neighborhoods. Parks & People works within an organizing framework known as One Park, which envisions Baltimore as network of parks, playing fields and green space. Parks & People's mission is to support a wide variety of recreational and educational opportunities; create and sustain beautiful and lively parks; and promote a healthy, natural environment for Baltimore City. Parks & People has been an active participant in the development and implementation of the Baltimore City's Sustainability Plan with a Board member continuing to serve on the Sustainability Commission. It helps residents revitalize their neighborhoods through hands-on community greening activities and forms networks among communities to sustain natural resources. Parks & People offers formal and informal programs and experiences that allow children to learn, grow, explore their natural environment and develop a sense of community. To achieve sustainability, Parks & People provides resources and capacity building assistance in partnership with other organizations to jointly offer programs that are based on increasing stewardship, networking, and knowledge believing this is a sustainable model for strengthening service delivery with limited resources. To learn more visit www.parksandpeople.org.
Baltimore Ecosystem Study
As a charter principle institution of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) Parks & People helped to initiate this research effort. It provides assistance to connect scientists to the community and to help communicate study results. Each year Parks & People and BES bring community greeners and research scientists together during the BES Open House and Community Greening Celebration, an event held in conjunction with the BES Annual Science Meetings.
Parks & People encourages people to experience urban public lands as active users and stewards. In partnership with the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, it equips and mobilizes communities to care for parks, and it undertakes hands-on improvement projects with volunteers and as contractors. Each year thousands of Baltimore City youth engage in positive activity and learn the valuable life lessons of teamwork and fair play through Parks & People's sports programs.
As a partner in the TreeBaltimore campaign Parks & People plants trees to cool and beautify neighborhoods, reduce storm water runoff, improve air quality and stimulate revitalization. Through a long-term partnership with the USDA Forest Service, Parks & People led the way in helping Baltimore City to establish an aggressive Urban Tree Canopy goal of expanding the canopy from 27 to 40%.
Community Greening and Networks
Parks & People offers grants and resources to equip community groups to revitalize their communities through greening. Parks & People collaborates with Power in Dirt, a mayoral initiative that engages residents to transform city-owned vacant lots into community-managed green spaces. Another Parks & People program, the Community Greening Resource Network (CGRN), is a primary organizer of Baltimore's urban gardening and farming community, offering the knowledge, training, materials and connections needed to create thriving community gardens and green spaces.
Environmental Education/Green Schools
Parks & People is a leading provider of environmental education programming in Baltimore City. School-based field trips and informal programs promote environmental awareness and provide positive pathways for youth to become involved in environmental stewardship in their communities.
BRANCHES is Parks & People's signature year-round, green job training program for high school youth. As paid, part-time employees of Parks & People, BRANCHES team members develop valuable skills while exploring career opportunities in natural resources management. Parks & People also partners with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to implement the Conservation Job Corps summer program for youth working in state and city parks, and it is currently working with the National Park Service to develop the new Chesapeake Youth Corps Network.
Using watersheds as an ecosystem framework, Parks & People's urban waters initiatives include the Watershed 263 and Baltimore's Second Harbor demonstration projects. It is a collaborator in the Urban Waters Federal Partnership and the Healthy Harbor initiatives. Additionally, it engages with communities and youth to reduce impervious surfaces and employ other green technologies to improve water quality and stormwater management in schoolyards, parks, streets, vacant lots and public housing.