Friends of Grand Rapids Parks
The Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is an independent, citizen led, nonprofit enterprise founded in 2008, working closely with but separate from the City, with the mission to identify specific park projects, mobilize people, and generate resources to protect, enhance, and expand the City's parks and public spaces. In a nutshell, the Friends make park improvement projects happen by bringing together neighbors, park users, the City, funders, volunteers and contractors. The Friends believe that vibrant parks and public spaces are essential to support the community’s economic competitiveness, environmental health and cultural well-being. They understand that a healthy park system is a long-term commitment.
Friends of Grand Rapids Parks grew out of the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Parks and Recreation. The Commission's report in March 2007 recommended a number of short and long-term strategies in response to the city's budget problems and cuts to the Parks and Recreation Department. City Commission Rosalynn Bliss, who chaired the Commission, met with several community leaders to pursue the idea of developing an independent, community based, 501c3 organization. With funding support from the Wege Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Frey Foundation, and several businesses and donors, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks began serving the community in 2009. In the Fall of 2009, the Green Grand Rapids Master Plan was completed with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks designated as the lead community champion for the strategies and tactics related to Parks and Recreation.
Programs and Projects
Parks Alive is a joint venture of the City of Grand Rapids and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks to address improving volunteer and neighborhood engagement and to provide more direct opportunities for private sponsorship of park improvements. Citizens can group around specific parks and form Parks Alive Leader (PAL) groups. These PAL committees can work directly with FGRP and the City to develop sponsorships and work to improve their local parks.
Urban Forest Project
Launched in 2012, the Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project is an initiative of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks in partnership with the City of Grand Rapids to engage our whole community in planting and growing a larger, healthier urban forest. Programs of the Urban Forest Project include volunteer opportunities, citizen education and engagement, technical resources, and an online crowd-sourced tree map.