Parks Grants Designed to Inspire Visitor Diversity

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These Novato children visited Stafford Lake Park through the assistance of Marin County Parks’ Breathe/Respira grant program.

Board approves allocation of $190,000 from tax measure to support partnerships

The past five years, a grant program offered by Marin County Parks has helped un­derserved local residents have better access to parks and open space preserves, leading to better overall health and rela­tionships throughout the com­munity. With the same goal this year, a new round of grants worth a combined $190,000 was approved by the Marin County Board of Supervisors during its July 9 meeting.

The grants from the Breathe Community Grant Program (‘Respira’ in Spanish) are set up to foster partnerships with community organizations that share County Parks’ vi­sion of expanding access to local disadvantaged residents for the enjoyment of Marin’s stunning natural resources. This marks the sixth year of Breathe/Respira one-year grants funded by Measure A, otherwise known as the Marin Parks, Open Space, and Farm­land Preservation Transac­tions and Use Tax Ordinance of 2012.

The Marin City Commu­nity Services District, the San Geronimo Valley Com­munity Center, and Bay Area Community Resources/ Slide Ranch each will receive $30,000 for various programs that boost social equity and diversity. Marin Community Clinics, North Marin Com­munity Services, Tomales Bay Youth Center/West Marin Community Services, and In­novative Health Solutions/ Healthy Cooking with Kids are to receive grants of more than $10,000 apiece.

There are several new and exciting planned uses of the Breathe/Respira grants this year:

The nonprofit Love is the Answer (LITA) of San Rafael will coordinate with local as­sisted living facilities to bring aging adults to parks who typi­cally don’t have a chance to leave their facility;

The Marin Museum of the American Indian in Novato will expand its programming by leading educational and historical trips to parks serv­ing schools and other groups;

Bay Area Community Resources, San Rafael City Schools, and Slide Ranch have teamed up to add “coming of age” trips to Slide Ranch serv­ing middle school students in addition to their after-school outings in parks.

With equity and fairness in mind, County Parks recently reduced the costs of park­ing at three popular parks by 50% and waived all fees at the McNears Beach Park swim­ming pool. A survey showed that entry fees, a lack of public transportation, a shortage of bilingual signage, or a lack of familiarity can prevent some­body from a fresh-air adven­ture close to home.

“In partnership with lo­cal organizations these grants nearly double our capacity to provide programs to local resi­dents across the county,” said Max Korten, Director of Marin County Parks. “These trips overcome barriers to reach­ing the park and help residents build long-term relationships, so they return over and over. It can be life-changing.”

The Breathe/Respira pro­gram seeks to support com­munity organizations that pro­vide programs to underserved, at-risk, or vulnerable popula­tions in Marin and promote health, wellness or environ­mental education in Marin’s communities. Efforts to date have aided members of Lati­no, Vietnamese, senior, youth, and disabled communities.

Learn more on the Breathe/ Respira Measure A Commu­nity Grant Program Overview or on the Measure A webpage.

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