PPS established the Urban Parks Institute in 1996 with funding from the Wallace Reader’s Digest Funds in order to provide a wide range of resources to people who were developing and managing parks. While the goal was to help improve the quality of urban parks overall, the Institute focused on parks in underserved neighborhoods by providing support to community groups, park managers and other public, private and nonprofit sector leaders about best practices in urban park revitalization.

The primary activities of the Institute included:

  • Annual conferences and regional workshops for a range of leaders involved in urban parks. These became known as the Great Parks / Great Cities conferences and helped create a national network of parks now known as the City Parks Alliance.
  • Publications, conference proceedings, newsletters
  • Research of best practices
  • Technical assistance to public, private, and nonprofit organizations working to improve parks
  • Awards program Great Parks/Great Cities Awards, inaugurated in 2001 to commend best practices in parks

The navigation on the left of the Urban Parks Institute section culls together many of the important resources developed as a result of this groundbreaking project.