Walter Dziedzic Innovation Fund fosters thoughtful, innovative and responsive recreation programs in Minneapolis parks

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is excited to announce a slate of new innovative recreation programs in Minneapolis parks supported through the Walter Dziedzic Innovation Fund.

MPRB staff and community partners submitted 56 proposals to a grant selection committee that chose applications based on creativity, innovation and community need. So far this year, 21 programs have been selected for grants ranging from $2,500 to $15,000.

“These are exactly the type of programs we need in our parks – innovative, responsive and tailored for underserved communities,” said MPRB Vice President AK Hassan. “I can’t wait to get out and see them in action this summer!”

The 2019 Walter Dziedzic Innovation Fund prioritized programs serving four user groups:

  • Somali Community
  • Girls or young women aged 21 and under
  • Children or teens aged 17 and under
  • Adults aged 55 or older

Programs funded this year through these grants include Bottineau Young Builders and Designers, where youth learn about design and building trades, develop a small business plan and participate in an entrepreneurial competition; North Commons/Farwell We Care Performing Arts, which educates youth in song, dance and instrumental music as they explore cultural contributions of African Americans; and Currie/Coyle Intergenerational Youth and Elder Biking, where youth and adults acquire skills to ride bikes safely, learn basic bike repairs and come together to build relationships.

About the Walter Dziedzic Innovation Fund

The Innovation Fund started in 2014 with a $50,000 budget allocation to support new innovative program requests. It proved to be a cost-effective way to quickly respond to the always-evolving community recreation needs of Minneapolis. It also helps foster better partnerships between the MPRB and community agencies with overlapping missions and patrons.

This year the fund has a $197,500 budget and has already received $473,574 in funding requests. The Innovation Fund was recently renamed after former MPRB Commissioner and Minneapolis City Council Member Walt Dziedzic, who passed away in 2018.