Park Pride began as an advisory committee formed by the City of Atlanta Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. In 1989, Park Pride Atlanta incorporated as a tax-exempt organization governed by a volunteer board of directors. Since that time, we’ve been engaging citizens in efforts to enhance parks and greenspace through advocacy, volunteerism, and capital improvements. Citizen involvement results in parks that reflect the unique character and meet the needs of each community. By engaging grassroots advocates, nonprofit partners, and government officials in developing and implementing strategic responses to emerging park issues, Park Pride serves as the voice for parks in Atlanta.
A Track Record of Making More and Better Parks
We have come a long way since the first days of Park Pride. Through the years we have expanded our reach, enhanced our programs, and had a positive impact on the lives of thousands of people.
Park Pride incorporated as a nonprofit. The organization’s first Executive Director, Carolyn (Henry) Rader, was paid by the City. Tally Sweat was the founding board president.
Park Pride hired its first full-time employee, Allison Barnett. Allison remains with Park Pride today, serving as Associate Director.
Park Pride started the Fiscal Partners Program, which allows the organization to act as the fiscal agent for communities raising money for park improvements. Since the program began, Park Pride has helped dozens of communities raise over $4.4 million for playgrounds, land acquisition and other capital improvements.
Park Pride hired its first Volunteer Coordinator to expand volunteer participation in parks. The new position provided the necessary coordination and oversight to effectively manage large-scale corporate projects as well as smaller community efforts. Since then, Park Pride has facilitated over 500,000 hours of volunteer service in parks. Each year, we estimate the annual value of the work we complete to be over $360,000.
Park Pride founded the Parks Atlanta Rescue Coalition (PARC), which became the keystone of a highly successful advocacy program critical to Park Pride’s mission.
The first annual Parks and Greenspace Conference was held. It has since become the leading conference of its kind in the southeast.
Park Pride began its grant program with support from the Cecil B. Day Foundation to provide matching grants to communities for improvements to parks. This initial program – now called Small Change Grants – allowed communities to gain experience in project implementation and fundraising with small-scale projects.
Park Pride introduced the Park Visioning Program to help community groups develop a shared vision for the future of their park.
Park Pride hired a Community Builder to develop the Friends of the Park Program. Over 100 “Friends” groups have been started since the program began. The Friends of the Park Program is the connecting point for all of Park Pride’s programs; our community driven model revolves around the success of our Friends of the Park Program.
Park Pride successfully lobbied Atlanta City Council to allow communities to establish community gardens in City of Atlanta parks. Since then, the Community Garden Program has flourished, and Park Pride supports over 20 community gardens in City of Atlanta Parks.
The success of the Visioning Program created a demand from communities for funding to support the implementation of their new visions. The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation stepped forward to fund a new program that provides large scale matching grants, known as Legacy Grants. The success of the Legacy Grant Program later inspired The Home Depot Foundation to provide funding for the Community Building Grant Program, introduced in 2012.
Guided by the strategic plan – and at the invitation of DeKalb County – Park Pride expanded its geographic footprint beyond the City of Atlanta, entering into a contract with DeKalb County. Under this contract, Park Pride offers “Friends of” services, along with the Fiscal Partners and Volunteer Programs to DeKalb parks.
Also in 2010, Park Pride entered into a contract with the Atlanta BeltLine to create and manage the Adopt-the-Atlanta BeltLine Program.
Park Pride’s Board of Directors named Michael Halicki as the new Executive Director. Under Halicki’s leadership, Park Pride has reached new levels of success.
Also in 2013, the Robert Woodruff Foundation awarded the largest grant ever received by Park Pride, $1,625,000 to support community park improvements.
Park Pride celebrated 25 years of strengthening communities by improving parks and greenspace! Park Pride also reached the milestone of 500,000 hours of volunteer service provided to parks and was named Best Volunteer Program by the readers of Creative Loafing.
After Park Pride’s year of celebration, an energized staff and board focused that energy into building momentum and direction for the next 25 years, with a particular focus on a new strategic plan, adopted in early 2016.
Additionally, Park Pride introduced “all-call” volunteer days where individuals could engage with parks and communities through the Volunteer Program.
Park Pride kicked off the new year with the adoption of the 3-5 year strategic plan, which clarifies objectives and metrics for success in all programs and operations. The organization committed to increasing leadership and advocacy efforts, underwent a rebranding and website redevelopment, and strengthened their focus on their core programs.
Additionally, Park Pride was honored with a four-star (highest) rating by Charity Navigator, a respected online guide to responsible charitable giving, and was recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the “2016 Best Places to Work” in Atlanta.