Parks impact everyone’s quality of life. MPRB is committed to racial equity in the park system and our workforce. Racial equity for MPRB is when race is no longer a predictor of access to parks and recreation, health, well-being, and quality of life. We are committed to becoming a local and national model for racial equity in parks and recreation.

The Racial Equity Action Plan guides MPRB’s racial equity agenda through five main goals and actions to support each goal. In addition, the plan’s framework establishes priorities, timelines, accountability, and performance measures. The plan is updated every two years, based on ongoing, collaborative evaluation by staff and community members.

2017-2018 Racial Equity Action Plan Goals

  1. The MPRB creates, develops and supports a culture that values and advances racial equity.
  2. Minneapolis residents view the MPRB as an effective and inclusive governmental organization that engages all communities.
  3. MPRB’s workforce and hiring practices reflect the diversity of the community across the breadth and depth of the organization.
  4. MPRB investments in contracting and procurement benefit the diversity of the community.
  5. MPRB provides programs and services that are responsive and reflective of community needs.

To review the Racial Equity Action Plan and related materials, click on the link above under “Key Documents.”

Since 2011, the MPRB has initiated a range of measures to assess, address and build racial equity within our workforce while improving diversity, cultural awareness and inclusion. Because change on a system-wide scale takes time, we continue to proactively examine how we assess and measure our improvements. For instance, among our full-time workforce, the percentage of non-white and multiracial staff grew to 24.79% in March 2016, from 20.49% in January 2011. Meanwhile, a 2015 Culture and Climate Assessment Report showed progress in many areas and noted others that need attention, including: communications around change, performance evaluation, recognition of employees and training and development for managers and supervisors. Currently, key efforts with respect to inclusion, diversity, equity and access planning, training and implementation include:

  • Participation in the Government Alliance for Racial Equity and its Advancing Racial Equity MN Cohort
  • Expansion of internal training opportunities
  • Organization-wide use of a racial equity tool in MPRB’s policy, planning, program and budget decisions
  • Ongoing implementation of a Racial Equity Action Plan that is updated every two years
  • Training in implicit bias for all staff involved in the hiring process
  • Bias training for all Minneapolis Park Police officers, offered by the League of MN Cities

Summary of MPRB Workforce – with city comparison noted [PDF]

Actions and Initiatives: Workforce Diversity – Inclusion – Cultural Awareness – Racial Equity [PDF]

Equity in funding capital projects and recreation centers

The MPRB is the first parks agency in the nation to incorporate racial and economic equity measures into ordinances that guide its entire capital improvement program. Approved in 2016 and 2017, the ordinances specify the use of relevant, data-driven criteria to address racial and economic equity in allocating capital funds for 160 neighborhood parks and 19 regional parks and trails.

A similar criteria-based model for allocating funds to its 49 recreation centers [PDF] was introduced with the 2018 budget.

RecQuest

This plan for the next generation of recreation centers in Minneapolis includes a comprehensive assessment of MPRB’s 49 centers and their program needs. Demographics within the City of Minneapolis are changing rapidly, which makes it more important than ever to ensure that we are meeting the needs of its diverse stakeholders. To learn more, visit the Project Page.

Park funding by commissioner district

This web page features comparisons of facilities, land acquisition, annual park investments and more across MPRB’s six commissioner districts; it also highlights annual improvements in each district.

The Community Outreach Department was established in 2011 to embody and reflect our commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity. It leads organizational efforts to connect the Park Board to underserved communities, anticipate and thoughtfully respond to their needs and continually seek ways to better deliver park and recreation services. Its work includes:

  • Building relationships with underserved communities and serving as the bridge for the organization to provide equitable access to and use of parks, programs, opportunities, and information
  • Supporting MPRB’s efforts to recruit a workforce that reflects the racially and ethnically diverse communities it serves
  • Supporting data-driven decision-making around engaging and serving diverse communities throughout the organization
  • Producing and supporting community events that connect people across cultures to the parks and each other

Community Outreach actions and initiatives include:

  • Community Coordinators who engage specific underserved communities in the North, Northeast/Southeast, South and Southwest Service Areas
  • Cultural competency training for MPRB staff
  • The Bilingual Information Ambassador program, developed in collaboration with the Customer Service department, includes Spanish- and Somali-speaking customer service staff who conduct outreach at park and nonpark events and provide customer service by phone and email
  • Leading the application of the Racial Equity Toolkit in planning projects and policy development, including Bossen Field Master Plan, South Service Area Master Plan, RecQuest
  • Development of a Racial Equity Action Plan for the MPRB

Additional Reading:

Since 2011 the MPRB has initiated a range of efforts to improve diversity and inclusion and to integrate racial equity into all aspects of our work. We recognize that system-wide change takes time, both within the Minneapolis park system and our workforce, so our efforts are ongoing, and we take proactive measures to examine, assess and measure them. The timeline below shows a number of actions, initiatives and milestones regarding our efforts in these areas, while highlights are featured in our Diversity, Inclusions, and Racial Equity PDF.

2016

In 2016, the MPRB joined the GARE Advancing Racial Equity MN Cohort to develop racial equity training curriculum and expand its internal training opportunities, and to incorporate racial equity tool use beyond the planning process in MPRB policy, practice, programs and 2017 budget development decisions.

New Policies 

  1. MPRB is reviewing existing processes used to develop professional services agreements using an equity tool kit and will make adjustments as needed
  2. MPRB is reviewing existing processes used to develop catering contracts using the equity tool kit and will make adjustments as needed
  3. MPRB launched pilot program to use racial equity lens for budget requests and impacts

New Projects

MPRB will redesign Peace Games to be a multicultural festival to increase cultural awareness and reduce biases that can foster racial inequities.

New Programs

  1. Streetreach expanded. Streetreach staff work collaboratively with other park staff to assess the atmosphere at parks and surrounding neighborhood and provide intervention services for youth that provide positive alternatives for youth and foster park safety. 
  2. Developing Green Prescription Program (initial focus is under-represented and underserved communities). The Green Prescription Program creates a link between wellness and park activities. By targeting underserved and under-represented populations, especially immigrant populations, this program helps introduce individuals to the park system and fosters long-term equitable access to resources the MPRB provides.

2015

In 2015 racial equity toolkits were piloted in a variety of planning projects, including a neighborhood park project, a regional park project, an entire service area and an organization-wide plan for recreation centers. These tools effectively expanded our ability to engage community members that we have not reached through past engagement efforts.

A full-time position within the Community Outreach Department was transitioned to a one-year Equity and Inclusion Manager position to accelerate development of a Racial Equity Action Plan for the MPRB. Also last year, the MPRB contracted with Voices for Racial Justice to provide consultation services.

New Projects

  1. Racial Equity Toolkit piloted in Bossen Field Master Plan, Bde Maka Ska-Harriet Master Plan and RecQuest
  2. Voices for Racial Justice provided racial equity consultation and assisted with community engagement for RecQuest and the Bde Maka Ska-Harriet Master Plan
  3. Bde Maka Ska-Harriet Master Plan Equity Subcommittee made recommendations to full Bde Maka Ska-Harriet Community Advisory Committee
  4. South Service Area and Downtown Service Area Master Planning began, MPRB will eventually create a comprehensive, cohesive set of master plans for all neighborhood parks within each service area. Service area master plans align future park and recreation facilities with community needs with the explicit intent of addressing racial equity.
  5. Service Area Equity Fact Sheets created showing MPRB capital improvement, maintenance and recreation investments by service area
  6. Bde Make Ska added to the former Lake Calhoun entry signs to honor Dakota people and educate the public about the lake’s Dakota name

New Programs

  1. Girl Interrupted Conference aimed at girls ages 14-18 overcoming adversity
  2. Pop Up Parks and Bike Shop expansion to serve low income, diverse neighborhoods across the city.
  3. New fundamental youth sports model for soccer piloted in North and Northeast/Southeast service areas
  4. Provided outdoor recreation experiences for urban core youth ages 12-17 to foster connections to outdoors
  5. Swim lessons at Webber Natural Swimming Pool
  6. Book Nooks to promote youth literacy created at East Phillips and Elliot rec centers in partnership with the MN Literacy Council.
  7. Outdoor career internships created for young adults aged 16-24
  8. About two dozen Youthline staff and youth participants attend the Brothers and Fathers Institute
  9. Street Reach partners MPRB staff from Youth Development, Park Police and rec centers to engage young people and prevent potential crime issues
  10. Movies in the Park program offered enhanced diversity of movies and increased communication about movies to underserved communities

Capital Investments

Board focused on capital improvements that meet diverse community needs, and that are in Upper South, North and Northeast Minneapolis and other projected growth areas, per guidance from the MPRB comprehensive plan. Upper South, North and Northeast Minneapolis include the majority of the Racially Concentrated Areas of Poverty (RCAPs) in Minneapolis.

  1. Webber Natural Swimming Pool opened
  2. Concept plan approved for new Welcome Center at Theodore Wirth Regional Park
  3. New playground opened at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park highlighting African-American inventors and the civil rights movement
  4. Board approves construction of Phillips Pool

2014

In 2014, the MPRB joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) and more than 20 MPRB employees were trained on racial equity, the use of racial equity tools, communicating about race to build organizational capacity,and assisting in piloting racial equity tools.

New Programs

  1. MPRB took over Running Wolf Fitness Center at Phillips Park 
  2. Youthline staff took teens on a Wilderness Inquiry canoe voyage on the Mississippi River, a campout at Fort Snelling and historical sightseeing on segways
  3. The Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School held for six weeks at Folwell Park
  4. Farview Park hosted inaugural youth Hmong Flag Football Tournament
  5. Indoor movie series honored Black History Month at Central Gym
  6. MPRB received grant to increase healthy meals and nutrition education offered at rec centers
  7. Pop-Up Parks began traveling across diverse, low-income neighborhoods six nights per week during the summer
  8. Urban Explorers day camp paired children of color aged 8-13 with mentors who took them on adventures across the Minneapolis park system
  9. 120 kids from North Commons Youth Football Program participated in NFL’s Punt, Pass and Kick Competition at Winter Park (Vikings HQ)

Capital Investments

  1. First universally accessible play area in park system opened at Minnehaha Regional Park 
  2. Sheridan Memorial Park opened along the Mississippi River providing additional park access to a historically underserved area of Northeast Minneapolis.

New Policies

Board of Commissioners approved the Urban Agriculture Plan, with specific language to address racial equity.

2013

In 2013 the Community Outreach Department was expanded and the new community engagement coordinators focused on improving internal diversity awareness and community outreach services.

New Programs

  1. Swim Lessons began at Wirth Lake
  2. Nearly 275 students of color participated in week-long water safety courses and more than 40 low-income kids receive swimming lessons at Bde Maka Ska
  3. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Council honored the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington with “March to Close the Gaps” from Sabathani Community Center to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, followed by Freedom Jazz Festival at park.
  4. MPRB hosted seminar at Central Gym for parents/guardians of Minneapolis youth involved in gang activity, drugs or other negative behavior

New Projects

  1. New public art project displayed at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. Mosaic quilts installed on the exterior of the rec center building interpret the textile patterns of diverse cultures in our community.
  2. Twin Cities Mobile Jazz Project launched at Harriet Bandshell. This free summer concert series includes sites throughout the park system and is intended to unite community, promote creativity in our youth, and show unconditional support.
  3. Gary Vang (2013) and Michael Thao (2014), members of all-Hmong Boy Scout Troop 100, completed Eagle Scout Projects at Gateway Park with help from MPRB staff
  4. MPRB Human Resources Department worked with MPRB Community Outreach Department to enhance distribution of job applications to recruit individuals from communities of color to apply for MPRB positions. 
  5. MPRB Human Resources and Community Outreach departments host job fairs to recruit individuals from communities of color to apply for MPRB positions.

Community Outreach Department Framework Implemented

  1. MPRB Outreach Booth re-launched to share information about the MRPB programs and services with and gather information from underserved communities at park and non-park events.
  2. Summer Highlights brochure translated to Somali and Spanish
  3. Project Re-Connect initiative created 10-person council comprised of youth aged 14-17 representing North Commons, Farview and Folwell parks. Youth Council receives training and makes recommendations to Minneapolis Park Police.

2012

In 2012, 70 employees across the organization completed community engagement training to build skills related to identifying stakeholders and reaching diverse and underserved audiences.

New Projects

  1. Special Leadership Camps implemented by Community Outreach Department for Team Teamworks crew. Camps focused on communication strategies and building self-esteem. Teen Teamworks is a summer employment program for low income and at risk Minneapolis youth.
  2. Team Teenworks Park Pathways group launched. Group focuses on language and culture education, recycling initiatives and mentoring children aged 9-12 who participate in MPRB athletic teams.
  3. Teen Teamworks job program expanded to serve 302 youth, including Park Pathways program, internships, work opportunities with the Urban League and placement of eight deaf or hard of hearing members and 12 special needs members. 
  4. Three teams from the Liga Hispana De Beisbol receive training, coach certification, practice space at Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and participate in MPRB youth baseball league.
  5. MPRB participated in “Summer Strong” collaboration between many public agencies to highlight safe, fun opportunities for all young people during summer. A focus within the park system was areas where free lunches are served.

2011

In 2011 the MPRB revised its Community Engagement Ordinance and adopted a new Community Engagement Policy that widens the methods and processes used to engage the community, increasing access and participation in decision making for park projects. Later that same year, we created a new Community Outreach Department to focus on diversity and inclusion, cultural competencies and citywide special events with particular focus on events that serve diverse communities.

New Policies

Community Engagement Policy adopted that widens the methods and processes used to engage the community, increasing access and participation in decision-making for park projects. These methods go beyond the standard set of meetings and public hearing for projects, which can limit access to the decision making process, especially in racially concentrated areas of poverty. Ordinance revised and approved by Board of Commissioners.

New Programs

  1. Summer Food Program served 95,000 lunches at 35 park sites
  2. Indigenous Music and Movies featured Tuesday nights in August at Father Hennepin Bluff Park
  3. Get Outdoors Day hosted at Powderhorn Park to introduce outdoor activities to inner city youth and families and address racial inequity in these activities.
  4. VISTA member awarded to develop six Park Literacy sites (East Phillips, Farview, Folwell, Logan, Luxton, Powderhorn)
  5. Twins Community Fund grant paid for uniforms, equipment and Negro League educational program materials for Northside Fundamental Baseball program
  6. Youthline managed $50,000 federal grant funding family outreach program promoting physical fitness and good health practices. Six family festivals held throughout summer/fall at North Commons, Farview, Folwell parks.
  7. 200 Teen Teamworks youth participated in a guided canoe tour of Mississippi River. Teen Teamworks is a summer employment program for low income and at risk Minneapolis youth.
  8. Park Police partnered with numerous organizations in a collaborative program to reclaim Peavey Park and address livability issues in the surrounding neighborhood.
  9. MPRB employed more than 170 youth to help North Minneapolis recover from tornado through the Northside Community Relief Team
  10. 800 new trees planted in North Minneapolis as part of Northside Treecovery program after tornado

Capital Investments

Board focused on capital improvements that meet diverse community needs, and that are in Upper South, North and Northeast Minneapolis and other projected growth areas, per guidance from the MPRB comprehensive plan. Upper South, North and Northeast Minneapolis include the majority of the Racially Concentrated Areas of Poverty (RCAPs) in Minneapolis.

  1. East Phillips Park Cultural and Community Center opened
  2. Freedom Form #2 sculpture renovated and relocated at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Park
  3. Frank Quilici Field opened at Shingle Creek Park
  4. Synthetic turf soccer fields opened at Stewart and Currie parks
  5. Victory Memorial Drive rededicated on its 90th anniversary
  6. New boardwalk opened along north edge of Wirth Lake
  7. Twins, Toro, MPRB rebuilt baseball fields at North Commons Park
  8. Basketball courts resurfaced at Loring, Cedar Field, East Phillips parks
  9. North Mississippi Regional Park trails repaired after tornado
  10. Field lighting upgraded at Bottineau Park

Tornado Response

Fairview Recreation Center served as the disaster recovery center and North Commons Recreation Center was opened as a shelter for residents of North Minneapolis who needed emergency housing following the tornado that hit North Minneapolis.

New Projects

Superintendent began meeting with the NAACP, Urban League, Minneapolis Public Schools, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Committee and local churches and businesses to strengthen community relations and increase collaboration with organizations and agencies that serve communities of color.

MPRB partnered with Minneapolis Public Schools to include a four-page parks insert in Community Education mailings that was delivered to 200,000 Minneapolis households to ensure that all households in Minneapolis received information about MPRB programs and services.


Additional Reading

“Racial Equity in Parks & Recreation” article in Parks & Recreation magazine
“Change the Culture and The Rest Will Follow: Park Departments and Equity”  City Parks Blog
“Advancing Racial Equity” Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) Resource Guide, September 2015