Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Parks and Recreation

A newly released report by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) reveals the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) activities at park agencies across the U.S.

2 minute read

June 9, 2021, 10:00 AM PDT

By Clement Lau


Dolores Park

SharonaGott / Flickr

Given the significant impacts and frequent interactions park agencies have on and with the public, they are in a unique position to champion efforts that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). However, there are gaps in how these agencies understand and address systemic racism, unfair power structures, and cultural competency and humility which affect DEI and access to quality park and recreation spaces and programs. 

In April 2021, the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) published a report, "Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Parks and Recreation," which highlights the state of DEI activities at park and recreation agencies across the United States. Results from a 14-question survey offer a snapshot of agency DEI activities, professional development opportunities provided to staff, and the challenges organizations face in promoting these practices. Some of the key findings include:

  • One in three park and recreation agencies currently have formal DEI programs, and another third intend to establish such activities within the next two years.
  • About 62 percent of agencies serving more than 100,000 residents have established formal DEI activities, compared to a quarter of agencies serving 50,000 or fewer people indicating the same.
  • Whether or not they have a formal DEI program, nine in ten park and recreation agencies currently have established activities and policies that promote DEI practices.
  • The most common DEI activity is the development of hiring practices and policies (reported by 66 percent of survey respondents), followed by including an expressed commitment to DEI in foundational documents, such as vision and mission statements and strategic plans (50 percent).
  • About 37 percent of park and recreation leaders anticipate conducting an equity assessment within the next two years.
  • Agencies located in more populous areas are more likely to have conducted a DEI assessment—17 percent of agencies that serve more than 100,000 people compared to just six percent of agencies that serve less than 50,000 people.
  • The most common methods for staff DEI education are webinars and in-person trainings.

For additional information, please review the source article and the report.

Thursday, May 20, 2021 in Parks and Recreation Magazine

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