2020 was a tough year. As we all spent more time at home than ever before, we also relied on Austin's outdoor spaces as a much-needed respite. Many things were different, but our mission to improve parks, trails and green spaces across Austin remained that same.
Many of Austin Parks Foundation's programs relied on in-person events and gatherings before March of last year. We're proud to say we adapted and kicked off some of our most exciting projects to date! Take a look at what the our team accomplished:
The Zilker Train
Last year, Austin Parks Foundation committed to bringing the (beloved, much-missed, Austin's favorite) mini-train back to Zilker Park. To kick off this project, we hosted a naming contest in which thousands of Austinites submitted ideas and voted on their favorite finalist. We'll be announcing the winning name early this year!
This spring, we'll be raising the funds necessary to build a brand new train and get the train back up and running. With your help, we hope the train will take its first trip around the tracks by the end of Summer 2021. To learn more about this project and how you can contribute, visit austinparks.org/train!
Parks Summit Series
The Parks Summit began in 2015 as a one day, in-person event for park adopters. This year, we transformed the event into the Parks Summit Series, a virtual live-stream series where we tackled important topics in a format open to the public. Hundreds of Austinites passionate about parks joined lively discussions between experts and stakeholders. You can check out all 12 Parks Summit Series sessions from 2020 whenever you're ready at austinparks.org/summit!
In 2021, the Parks Summit Series will continue with an exciting addition: a new podcast! Stay tuned for the official announcement coming early this year. We look forward to sharing more info soon.
Re-committing to Park Equity
As our city and the world were swept by the movement for racial justice this Summer, we took time to reflect on how we have contributed to harm personally, and as an organization. We re-committed ourselves to advancing racial justice and greater equity for marginalized communities within Austin's Parks with our statement of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and our commitments to inclusive and equitable programming.
Austin Parks Foundation has been working in the communities of the Eastern crescent, that have seen historic underinvestment thanks in large part to the City's 1928 mater plan that officially segregated the city from East to West, for nearly 30 years. We know there is still so much work to do, but we understand our responsibility to make Austin's parks, trails and green spaces better for everyone. We are serious about ensuring equitable access and investment all over the city, and we look forward to partnering with you to make even greater strides in 2021.
Party for the Parks - At Home
We're so grateful to the generous sponsors, attendees and donors who helped us achieve our most successful Party for the Parks to date! We were able to raise over $237,000 to support our work in Austin's parks all while having a great evening from a safe distance. Attendees were able to enjoy food, drinks and our live stream program from home or their favorite park. Check out the full Party for the Parks live stream at party.austinparks.org!
It's My Park Day
Before the effects of COVID-19 reached Austin, we hosted our biggest It's My Park Day to date. We had 110 park projects, 4,000+ volunteers and spread over 1,200 cubic yards of mulch. We broke every record thanks to Austinites passionate about volunteerism and our city's parks.
In November 2020, we launched It's My Park Day - At A Distance! Over 850 participants provided 1,600+ labor hours in Austin's parks, trails and green spaces.
We're also grateful to all of the City Council Members and Park Adopters who talked with us about the importance of IMPD and volunteer events. Check out the videos they sent us on the APF YouTube channel!
Virtual Community Engagement
At Austin Parks Foundation, we believe that the people who know best about the needs of their parks are those who live near the park! Your perspective as a neighbor and stakeholder provides valuable insight about park priorities.
While some of our engagement efforts have shifted due to COVID-19, new opportunities for connecting have emerged with virtual meetings! We will continue to embrace traditional types of engagement as well as these new opportunities to obtain your essential insights.
In 2020, we hosted community engagement meetings to launch projects at Springdale Neighborhood Park, Little Walnut Creek Greenbelt and Govalle Neighborhood Park. You can learn more about how we approach community engagement in this blog post!
Partnership with Tito's Handmade Vodka
We're so grateful for our partnership with Tito's Handmade Vodka who helped us make a big impact last year! They graciously donated $42,500 for improvements and 100 GroBoxes, including soil and seedlings, from Restorative Farms to community gardens across Austin.
They also provided hand cleanser to keep our staff and volunteers safe. In addition, they matched $10,000 in donations doubling the impact of our donors. Thanks so much for your support and partnership, Tito's!
Park Projects Completed
Despite initial setbacks due to the pandemic, in 2020 APF was able to support the completion of the following park improvement projects across the city:
$50,000 in baseball field improvements completed.
Historic Parque Zaragoza Pool
$50,000 Community Grant for 4 new shade structures completed.
Park Lighting Initiative
$50,000 in new lighting structures installed in 5 parks.
Georgian Acres Park
Pavillion, playground and basketball court completed. Learn more here!
Comal Pocket Park
New playground completed with park redevelopment.
Colony Park District Park
Construction complete after $1,050,000 investment from APF. Learn more here!
Interpretive Placemaking Plan completed. Learn more here!
Brentwood Neighborhood Park
New playground completed. Learn more here!
Installed new shade structures for lifeguards.
Murchison Pool/Loewy Playground
$20,000 Community Grant for playground construction completed.
Country Club Creek Greenbelt
New trailhead complete.
Alliance Children's Garden
Project complete after $350,000 investment from APF.
Scenic Brook Pocket Park
Community engagement and concept plan adoption. Learn more here!
In addition to the completed projects above, we were able to launch many exciting projects to be completed in 2021 and beyond. Here are a few projects that are now in progress:
Springdale Neighborhood Park
Play equipment ordered, construction begins Jan. 2021.
Govalle Neighborhood Park
Launched renovation project.
Little Walnut Creek Greenbelt
Began trailhead construction and playground design process.
Alderbrook Pocket Park
Playground design, anticipated construction in 2021.
Awarded Funds for Parks Projects
An important part of our work is investing funds into great community-activated park projects to make them possible. In 2020, APF was able to provide funding support to the following projects:
Gus Garcia District Park
Kendra Page Park
$25,000 (matching funds)
New Year, New Opportunities
With 2020 in the rear view mirror, we'll continue to work hard for our city's beloved outdoor spaces in the new year. We couldn't do any of this without the support of our wonderful donors, sponsors, partners and volunteers. A big time THANK YOU from the APF family to all who support our mission of improving parks for every Austinite!