Aug 03, 2016

Local Water- & Nature-Based Play Spaces Receive Funding

American Water Charitable Foundation awards grants to Iowa, Virginia projects

parks and recreation, iowa, virginia, water, nature, play, grant

The American Water Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created by American Water, announced it is awarding two grants to underwrite local water- and nature-based play spaces within American Water service areas. The grants are being administered as part of the foundation’s partnership with the National Recreation and Park Assn. (NRPA) for the Building Better Communities signature grant program. NRPA directly administers the program, with funding made possible by the American Water Charitable Foundation.

The Building Better Communities philanthropy initiative is designed to enhance the quality of life in the communities the company serves. The program is initially focusing on parks, as they are critical to preserving natural resources that have real economic benefits for communities. Specifically, the program concentrates on building or enhancing water- and nature-based playgrounds and play spaces for children, and will connect and educate people on environmental stewardship practices related to water.

Two projects from within American Water’s national service area were selected to receive grants totaling approximately $290,000. The projects were chosen based on several criteria, including water components, play value, education value, proximity to American Water’s service areas, relevance of the project to the RFP project parameters, use of natural play materials and opportunities for American Water employee volunteer involvement.

The grant recipients:

• The Fejervary Learning Center in Davenport, Iowa, is receiving a grant award for $139,700 to create a nature-based play area centered on a Mother Goose nursery rhyme theme. The project, which will include water-based education elements, aims to broaden visitors’ view of nature, thus promoting stewardship and natural resource management through interactive play. The project will be a collaboration between the foundation, NRPA, Iowa American Water and the City of Davenport Parks & Recreation.

• City Park near Appomattox River in Hopewell, Va., will receive $150,000 to build two nature-based play areas, in conjunction with the city’s planned construction of a river walk. The City Park Improvement Project, which will include a custom designed water feature and rain garden, will increase opportunities for active play, environmental stewardship and nature-based learning, while emphasizing the importance of the natural environment of the Appomattox River. The project will be a collaboration between the foundation, NRPA, Virginia American Water and City of Hopewell Recreation & Parks agency.

“We are excited to partner with the American Water Charitable Foundation to help provide these unique play spaces to the residents of Davenport and Hopewell,” said Barbara Tulipane, NRPA president and CEO. “Not only will they inspire children to connect with nature, they will promote water stewardship education and help foster a greater sense of community.”

“We are proud to help these two communities create public projects that provide environmental education opportunities in a fun and engaging way,” said Darlene Williams, president of the American Water Charitable Foundation. “The projects will not only benefit the children and families in these communities, but they will also encourage greater interaction with and appreciation for our nation’s water resources.”

The Building Better Communities program supports American Water’s core values of community stewardship and environmental sustainability, and aligns with areas of importance to the company’s employees, including child welfare and education. Each nature-based play space will be developed via a community partnership dedicated to ongoing stewardship.

This is the third year of the program, which aims to support several of these types of projects through grants administered to local communities. In 2015, grants were awarded to Magic Island in Charleston, W.Va., Washington “Reed” Park in Gary, Ind., and Von Neida Park in Camden, N.J.

For more information about the Building Better Communities program, visit