Regional Parks Equity Toolkit

Progressing toward more equitable use of regional parks

6 people ice fishing.The regional parks system equity toolkit is a set of questions and a process to clarify how regional park projects are advancing equity. Equity means expanding access to opportunity for people of all races, ethnicities, incomes, abilities, and national origins.

How the toolkit is used

We use the equity toolkit to help guide decisions about future projects and policy directions. It includes a series of questions on the application that partner agencies submit to the Met Council for grant funds.

The Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission (MPOSC) and the Met Council use the toolkit to guide decision-making about grant funds to local parks implementing agencies. The questions in the toolkit help us identify:

  • Populations currently underserved by the regional parks system

  • Progress in serving targeted populations

  • Innovative practices of park agencies that could successfully apply across the park system

  • Future directions for the parks system in pursuing greater equity

Toolkit questions

  1. What is the population breakdown for your jurisdiction by race, ethnicity, age, national origin, ability status, and income?

  2. Which population segments above are currently underserved by the regional parks system?

  3. Which of the underserved populations identified will this project better serve?

  4. What specific aspects of this project will help to better serve the targeted populations identified?

  5. Exactly how will you verify the target populations are better served?

Why is the toolkit needed?

Our 2040 Regional Parks Policy Plan outlined a new focus: equitable use of regional parks and trails by all residents.  Sample feedback from a 2014 study of regional park use by communities of color (PDF) revealed barriers to park and trail visitation, including:

  • Knowing about the parks. “A lot of people are not really aware of regional parks.”
  • Language. “I really want to go there, but it’s hard because of the language barrier.”
  • Lack of transportation options. “If we don’t drive, we don’t have a way to go.”
  • Religious practices. “We pray five times a day, and women are supposed to have a little cover when they pray outside.”

The toolkit builds on the existing work of partner park agencies that are working to broaden park use among a changing population.