"In my opinion, the Philadelphia Parks Alliance has become one of America’s premier city park advocacy organizations. Between your thoughtful advocacy, your public education and your unceasing outreach, you are making a huge difference. You’re a real inspiration to park lovers.”
Director of Center for City Park Excellence, Trust for Public Land
A Unique Mission
The mission of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance is to champion the public’s interest in outstanding parks, recreation and open spaces, key to making Philadelphia a healthy, vibrant and sustainable city for all.
The Parks Alliance’s vision of a great city is one with great parks and interconnected green spaces. The Parks Alliance leads the diverse and expanding citizens’ movement which shapes public policies required to build the nation’s premier parks and recreation system.
About the Philadelphia Parks Alliance
The Philadelphia Parks Alliance's principal programs are advocacy and public education.
As powerful champions for beautiful, accessible, safe and well-maintained parks and recreation in Philadelphia, we monitor public policies, mobilize and build coalitions and lead campaigns to advance and influence sound policies and practices that support thriving parks and recreation. We work to ensure that parks are at the forefront of Philadelphia’s public interest agenda, while highlighting the value of parks within the social, economic and environmental fabric of our city and region.
The Parks Alliance is the ONLY INDEPENDENT VOICE that advocates for parks and green spaces throughout our city. We are the voice for ALL of Philadelphia's parks. We represent the needs of our citizens – not special interests. As skilled community activists and organizers with a proven track record of success, we know what needs to be done and how to achieve our goals. The Parks Alliance is recognized by city officials, nonprofits, community groups, the media and others as the “citizens’ voice” for Philadelphia’s parks.
The Alliance educates the public about the value of vibrant parks and recreation and the policies that affect them. We do the research and provide the facts and analyses citizens need to understand and take part in campaigns that support thriving parks and recreation for all Philadelphians.
The Parks Alliance is the link between citizens and elected and appointed officials. We work closely with a powerful and diverse citywide network of constituents, all of whom are committed to their neighborhoods’ parks and recreation facilities. The Parks Alliance is the convener and facilitator that brings together all parties around a cohesive agenda to ensure beautiful, accessible, safe and well-maintained parks and recreation in Philadelphia.
• $2.675 Million Annual Budget Increase for Parks and Recreation: As a result of a rigorous campaign led by the Parks Alliance, in FY 2013, an annual operating budget increase of $2.675 million for the Department of Parks and Recreation (P&R) was unanimously approved by City Council and the Mayor. This enabled P&R to add 63 new full time and skilled trades and maintenance staff, 75 additional seasonal workers and $900,000 in new equipment. The Alliance’s campaign included strategy sessions with constituent leaders from across the city; educating citizens about budget complexities; organizing hundreds of supporters at City Council budget hearings and thousands of letters to the Mayor and City Council. The Alliance organized teams of constituents to meet with individual Councilmembers and testify at every public and neighborhood budget hearing in Philadelphia - to talk about why well-funded parks and recreation are essential to families, neighborhoods, the City of Philadelphia and the region. Our multifaceted campaign attracted extensive press coverage. The Alliance continues to lead the ongoing effort for expanded and diversified park and recreation funding.
• Honored with State-Wide Recreation & Park Service Award: In 2013, the Parks Alliance was honored with the Pa. Recreation & Park Society's Service Group Award for "tireless efforts in advocating for Philadelphia's park and recreation system." The award recognizes a civic group in Pennsylvania that has made an outstanding and significant contribution to some facet of the recreation and park profession. Deputy Mayor and Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis nominated the Parks Alliance citing our accomplishments.
• Defeat of PA House Parks for Cash Bill: In our capacity as watchdog, the Philadelphia Parks Alliance is critical in stopping dangerous legislation before it is enacted. In October 2012, the Parks Alliance worked with a coalition of organizations across the state to defeat the Parks for Cash bill that put acres of Pennsylvania’s parks, open spaces, trails and other public lands at risk for quick sale by cash-strapped local governments. Parks Alliance outreach generated 1,700 letters to State Senators and coverage in the local press. The Alliance worked to educate PA Senate staff about the dangers of the bill and to review potential amendments. The legislation was defeated when individual Senators became increasingly aware of its “unintended” impact on parks.
• Spearheading the Call for Legislation to Protect Parkland: The Parks Alliance led the call for legislation mandating the Commission on Parks and Recreation (Commission) to - for the first time ever - create standards for the protection and use of parkland. We worked with key stakeholders, government officials, citizens and experts for the creation of a land protection ordinance that reflects best thinking and practices. This included $20,000 in pro-bono legal work donated to the Alliance for this project. In January 2011, after a public process, the Commission approved an ordinance that was then introduced in City Council for review, additional public comment, minor amendment and final passage. It was signed into law in April 2011 and became effective on July 1, 2011. In July 2013, on the two-year anniversary of the law, the Parks Alliance released a Guide to the Ordinance with the goal of raising awareness, explaining its requirements in simple terms and providing insight into how the Parks Alliance interprets it. The Alliance continues to monitor early implementation of the Ordinance and related policy decisions.
• Serving as the Information Source for All Things Park: The Parks Alliance is the go-to source for all things park, including statistics on funding trends; campaign briefing papers; and relevant press coverage and publications.
• Leading the Campaign that Created the New Department of Parks and Recreation: The Parks Alliance led the campaign that in November 2008 resulted in 73% of voters approving the historic Charter Referendum to reform the city’s park and recreation system. This referendum was born out of several years of rigorous study and dialogue that included park users and residents from all over the city, community and business organizations, national experts and government officials. Since then the Parks Alliance has been working to ensure the success of this reform: visionary and accountable leadership, strong land use policies, expanded and diversified investment and a growing base of citizens organized and focused on parks and recreation.
• Tours: Board President Bob Thomas leads monthly hikes to magical and often unseen places in Philadelphia’s parks and in the countryside of Pennsylvania, NJ and Delaware. These evening and daylong adventures convey the history, value, and power of our open space and the need to preserve and protect it. Board member and arborist Ken LeRoy has begun leading Phantastic Philly Tree Tours of some of our parks’ most intriguing trees.
• ParkStories: The Parks Alliance helps bring Philadelphia’s parks and recreation to life by chronicling personal and place-based narratives, images and news. These inspirational stories demonstrate the unique and powerful role of parks and recreation in the lives of people who live, work and visit Philadelphia.