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National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)

August 1, 2023

Green 2.0 Team

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. NRPA advances this vision by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals as a catalyst for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being.

NRPA’s network of more than 60,000 park and recreation professionals and advocates represents public spaces in urban communities, rural settings and everything in between. NRPA champions and supports the field of parks and recreation through professional development, advocacy, grants and programs, research, publications, conferences and more.

A marching band performs at the grand opening of Catherine Street Park in Baltimore during the 2019 NRPA Parks Build Community event.

Every day, in communities across the country, the people of parks and recreation are providing essential services and confronting the most pressing issues of our time — advancing mental and physical health, creating climate-ready parks, supporting equity and inclusion, and so much more. We know we cannot solve these challenges alone. By partnering with like-minded organizations — including non-profits, government agencies, academics and corporate leaders — we bring strength to our programs and mission.

Equity is at the center of our work at NRPA, and we are working toward a future where everyone has fair and just access to quality parks and recreation. NRPA implements an equitable grant making process to agencies across the United States and created many resources to help guide park and recreation professionals in their work to achieve more diverse, equitable and inclusive parks and green spaces for our communities. Our work is ever-evolving but we understand the importance of ensuring it gets done

— Autumn Saxton-Ross, Chief Education and Equity Officer

People play wheelchair rugby at the Adaptive Sports Festival in Pasadena, California.

Quality parks and recreation are essential to individual and community health, well-being, and resilience. At NRPA, our place in building vibrant and thriving communities is by supporting park and recreation professionals to meet emerging and future challenges. A challenge and strength, within most communities is difference: whether by race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, socioeconomic status, age, language, or ability. Difference meets on the playground and parks and recreation professionals operate at the intersection of these differences.

Since 2013, equity (referenced originally as social equity) has been one of NRPA’s three pillars. The NRPA Pillars, including health & wellness and conservation, have moved the field from communication “what we do” to focusing on the “impact we have.” This includes NRPA centering equity in all its work. Conversations, learning opportunities and research have been an integral part of NRPA’s work.

The 2021 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Parks and Recreation Report highlighted findings from a national survey of park and recreation leaders that informed NRPA’s strategy to support the field as they meet the challenge of difference, and “enhance the quality of life for all people.” The four themes: targeted support for smaller agencies, building member capacity and competency in DEI, best practices and peer networks, and trusted resources, provided a foundation that set the strategy for how we support diversity, equity and inclusion in the field.

At NRPA, we’ve identified opportunities for change and help lead and prioritize learning and development for our entire staff. We celebrate everyone as their authentic selves as they are vital to our mission – creating inclusive communities happens internally, just as we work to do that externally. Ensuring our people feel welcome and supported is imperative to our collective success.”

— Aja Jenkins, Senior Director People and Culture

Park and recreation professionals attend an education session at the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore.

The approach that resulted, Equity in Practice (EiP), redefined how we advance equity.  To create a future where everyone has fair and just access to these places and feels welcome, we need to act. Equity requires practice, patience, and a commitment to progress. As a result, we create opportunities for parks and recreation professionals to put equity into practice through a variety of learning opportunities where members can increase their knowledge around centering equity and practice the necessary skills to advance equity in our communities (which we are appropriately calling “Equity in Practice”). The following opportunities are available to NRPA members via our Connect community.   

  • EiP Talks & Clinics (Smaller Agency Support; Building Member Capacity and Competency in DEI): One stop shop of live and on demand sessions presented by subject matter experts in the field, sharing their experience and what is working around DEI in their agencies and communities.  
  • DEI Leaders and State Affiliate DEI Network (Best Practices and Peer Networking): Bi-monthly calls and NRPA Connect groups to facilitate peer learning, connection and support. DEI Leaders and State Affiliate DEI Network.
  • EiP Certificate (Building Member Capacity and Competency in DEI) : A “train the trainer”, 12 week learning opportunity, designed specifically for Parks and Recreation professionals, focused on skill building and practice (think, what does this look like in my work), culminating with a completed equity action plan. With the completion of the 3 certificates, agencies will have the option of taking the curriculum home to use for all staff, full and part time and community partners.   
  • EiP Resource Library (Trusted Resources): Curated resources that support individual and group learning, including toolkits, podcasts, articles and books. 

To learn more about NRPA, visit and follow NRPA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.