Foundation Awards $400,000 to Support Local Nature-Based Play Spaces

May 26, 2015
The Building Better Communities philanthropy initiative is designed to enhance the quality of life in the communities the company serves

The American Water Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created by American Water, has provided three grants to underwrite local nature-based play spaces across American Water’s nationwide service areas. The grants are being administered as part of the foundation’s partnership with the National Recreation and Park Assn. (NRPA), for the Building Better Communities signature grant program. NRPA directly administers the program, with funding made possible by the American Water Charitable Foundation.

The Building Better Communities philanthropy initiative is designed to enhance the quality of life in the communities the company serves. The program is initially focusing on parks, as they are critical to preserving natural resources that have real economic benefits for communities. Specifically, the program concentrates on building or enhancing nature-based playgrounds and natural play spaces for children, and will connect and educate people on environmental stewardship practices related to water.

Of the 117 applications received, a total of three projects from within American Water's national service area were selected to receive grants totaling $400,000. The projects were chosen based on several criteria including play value, education value, proximity to American Water’s service areas, relevance of the project to the RFP project parameters, use of natural play materials, opportunities for American Water employee volunteer involvement and construction of an actual children's play area.

The grant recipients are as follows:

  • Magic Island in Charleston, W.Va., will receive $150,000 to construct a children’s spray and/or splash pad utilizing a recirculating system. This project will introduce an interactive water feature to a park that has its genesis in the natural process of silt deposition at the confluence of two rivers.
  • Washington “Reed” Park in Gary, Ind., will receive $125,000 to develop a nature-based playground that integrates educational play about stormwater, as well as functions as green infrastructure to slow and cleanse the water returning to Lake Michigan, Grand Calumet and Little Calumet Rivers.
  • Von Neida Park in Camden, N.J., will receive $125,000 to design and construct a natural playscape in the park. The majority of the design will be allocated to personalizing the play area to the community surrounding the park, including developing signage and illustrations that address flooding, storm water management and stewardship.

“Creating an experience with nature and natural elements that is both fun and educational is a recipe for creating a life-long appreciation for the environment,” said Barbara Tulipane, president and CEO of NRPA. “This is always a goal for community parks and recreation, and for these three communities having the support of the American Water Charitable Foundation to create new nature-based experiences will elevate their ability to give more people the chance to interact with nature in a unique and memorable way.”

Each nature-based play space will be developed via a community partnership dedicated to ongoing stewardship. Annually, the program aims to support several of these types of projects through grants administered to local communities. In 2014, four grants were awarded totaling $384,000. The recipients were the city of Belleville, Ill., the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority in Scranton, Pa., the Pleasant Valley Recreation and Park District in Camarillo, Calif., and the Brunswick Redevelopment and Revitalization Committee in Brunswick, Mo.

Source: American Water