play Winner / 2015

People for Parks’ Community School Parks

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by People for Parks

People for Parks (PFP) will open six new LA Community School Parks for public use during non-school hours. LAUSD youth enrichment specialists will offer diverse programming with emphases on play, physical activity, nutrition, outdoor learning and community building. Use of school playgrounds as park space is a creative, efficient, inexpensive way to provide a park within walking distance of LA residents. Community mobilization by PFP and parent participation will keep these spaces sustainable.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles
  • LAUSD
  • Berendo Middle School in Central LA/Pico Union; Leo Politi Elementary School (ES) in Central LA/Pico Union; Gratts ES in Central LA/Westlake; Esperanza ES in Central LA/Westlake; 20th St ES in South LA/Central Alameda; Main St ES in South LA/South Park

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Expand a pilot or a program

How will your proposal improve the following “Play” metrics?

  • Access to open space and park facilities
  • Number of children enrolled in afterschool programs
  • Per capita crime rates
  • Percentage of residents that feel safe in their neighborhoods
  • Residents within 1⁄4 mile of a park (Dream Metric)
  • Number of residents with easy access to a “vibrant” park (Dream Metric)
  • Number of parks with intergenerational play opportunities (Dream Metric)
  • Number (and quality) of informal spaces for play (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to play.

People for Parks works towards the day when all Angelenos can walk to a park. As part of this effort, we will open six Community School Parks in LA in 2016 and empower parents and community members to participate in park activity and sustainability so that these spaces thrive for years to come.

Community School Parks (CSPs) are supervised school-site playgrounds that are open to the public on weekends, holidays and summers and feature dynamic programming carried out by school staff.

In 2012, PFP tore up asphalt, replaced it with grassy fields and tracks and opened life-changing CSPs at Vine and Trinity Street Elementary schools. Using the formerly closed school sites as space for physical activity has led to healthier living, better nutrition, family and community strengthening, documented improvements in academics and reduction in obesity. They also helped families feel safer about playing in the neighborhood, as school principals confirmed major drops in vandalism and other signs of trouble.

90% of youth in Boston and New York live within 1/4 mile of a park compared with 33% of LA children. The LA Unified School District is the second largest landowner in LA. Unlocking its school playgrounds on weekends brings parks to underserved communities, where parents are overworked and 86% of children are eligible for free/reduced lunches; 72% are Hispanic/Latino.

Opening six new Community School Parks means 25,000-30,000 more Angelenos will have access to a safe park 1/4 mile or less from home. Once afraid to go outside in areas with the highest reported percentages of gang activity, children and families will enjoy park time at their own school campus surrounded by friends and staff.

Residents will discover a vibrant park and enjoy programming run by dedicated specialists. Activities include organized sports, fitness exercises, intergenerational activities, art/crafts, storytelling, outdoor learning, gardening, ecology and multi-cultural events. Baseball clinics and other team-building activities held at the parks by our newest partner, the LA Dodgers, are in the planning phases.

Community members will also receive training and support on park programming, maintenance and shared use through our Incubator, which helps ensure CSP sustainability and scalability.

One parent says it all– The park staff members lovingly assist our kids with crafts, sports and other physical fitness games and also keep the area secure for our entire family.”

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

The first marker of success will be the opening of six Community School Parks. Park use statistics by LAUSD enrichment staff will evaluate the goal that each park serves at least 300-500 patrons per month for recreation and 500+ for special events.

Scores from LAUSD’s Physical Fitness Summary, statewide 5th grade obesity testing and academic scores will help us evaluate the quality and vibrancy of parks.

Surveys, youth enrichment assessments and interviews with school staff, parents, children and community members will also help us grade park effectiveness and impact on LA2050 dream metrics–park access, vibrancy, crime reduction, feeling safe in neighborhoods, intergenerational play, numbers in afterschool programs, quality of informal spaces–as well as fitness, health and community building.

General data from and consultation with the LA County Dept. of Public Health ‘Joint Use Moving People to Play’ task force will be used by PFP to maintain the quality of evaluations.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support