MADISON AND ST. CLAIR COUNTIES, IL – The Metro East Park and Recreation District (MEPRD) today announced over $3.4 million in new grants through the Park and Trail (FY2023), Community Planning Grant and Event grant programs Sponsorship Grant. The programs support local parks and green spaces, recreation, and active transportation in the East Metro area.
Since its inception in 2000, MEPRD has funded $33.9 million to support 220 projects in Illinois Metro East communities. From community-wide active transportation planning and park planning to building trails, improving parks, and sponsoring outdoor recreational events, MEPRD grant opportunities provide a comprehensive approach to support the region’s vast network of parks and trails and enable communities and other local and county agencies under MEPRD’s jurisdiction to raise their funds and make their locally led projects a reality.
The recently announced fiscal year 2023 grant programs are funded by the Metro East Parks and Recreation Areas Tax, a one-tenth (1/10) percent sales tax on tangible personal property sold in detail, which was approved by voters in Madison and St. Clair Counties, IL in 2000. Half of the tax revenue generated is retained by the MEPRD and then redistributed as grants to townships, cities, park districts, park districts, transit and others falling within its competence within the framework of its mission. The other half is returned to the respective counties.
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For fiscal year 2023, MEPRD approved record program budgets for the Parks and Trails Grant Program ($1 million increase over the previous year) and the Community Planning Grant Program ( increase of $100,000). According to the district, this marked increase in funding for the program was made possible by an increase in tax revenue generated over the past year and will, therefore, allow MEPRD to award more grants to a greater number of applicants. and projects throughout its jurisdiction.
“There’s a lot to be excited about right now for the future of parks, trails and outdoor recreation in the Metro East region,” said Cole Preston, MEPRD Grants Coordinator. “With the increase in funds available for this year’s MEPRD grants, in combination with other new and/or expanded federal, state, and local funding opportunities, we are empowering communities in the East Metro Area to make impactful quality of life improvements such as making local parks and regional trails more accessible, improving walking, and upgrading outdoor and indoor recreation sites. The potential impact goes beyond recreational activities alone; likewise, it can bring significant gains in key areas such as public health and transport, not to mention the potential economic impact.
“MEPRD actively encourages all communities, agencies, and 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations that own and maintain public parks, trails, and recreation facilities in its jurisdiction to apply for funding,” Bryan Werner, Executive Director of the Metro East Park and Recreation District said. For those who do not have an eligible project in the pipeline, MEPRD is ready to help fund up to 40%, or up to $40,000, for the development of a parks master plan at the community level and/or a master plan for bicycles and pedestrians. “MEPRD staff are available to assist agencies and departments throughout the application process – at every stage of the process, if needed – and urge those with little or no experience in preparing an application for don’t hesitate to ask for help,” added Werner.
The district also provides event sponsorship funding for walking, running, biking, hiking, and related events held in Madison and/or St. Clair counties that utilize or promote public parks, trails or other recreational sites within its jurisdiction. The program is open to 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations and public agencies. “MEPRD is proud to play a role in the emergence of Metro East as a recreation hub, an outdoor recreation destination for those who live, work or visit the bi-county area,” Preston said. “And as important as it is to develop new leisure experiences and make the latest improvements to existing leisure sites, it is also about increasing awareness, appreciation and use of the incredible parks, trails and recreational facilities already close at hand. “Earlier this spring, the MEPRD launched www.metroeastrecreation.coman online hub for public recreation in Madison and St. Clair counties.
See below for a general overview of MEPRD’s FY2023 grant programs. Organizations interested in applying can learn more about each program and download the application at www.meprd.org/funding.
• The MEPRD (FY2023) Parks and Trails Grant Program was approved with a program budget of $3 million. The grant is open to public agencies, counties, and nonprofit organizations with a plan to develop or improve public parks, trails, or recreational facilities in Madison and St. Clair counties, IL. Under the FY23 program, eligible applicants with an eligible project type may apply for a MEPRD grant worth 40% of total project costs (up to $300,000 for regional trail development projects; or up to $100,000 for parks and recreation projects). MEPRD will begin accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, for eligible projects under the first round of grants. For more information about the program and eligibility for grant rounds, go to www.meprd.org/park-trail-grant.
• The MEPRD (FY2023) Community Planning Grant Program was approved with a program budget of $400,000. Eligible applicants with an eligible project type – including community-wide park planning and/or community-wide bicycle and pedestrian planning – can apply for a MEPRD scholarship of one value of 40% of eligible project costs (up to $40,000) beginning Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at 7:30 a.m. For more information about the program or to download the grant application, visit www.meprd.org/planning-grant.
• The MEPRD (Fiscal Year 2023) Event Sponsorship Grant Program has a total program budget of $20,000 and can be requested by public agencies and nonprofit organizations headquartered within 15 miles of MEPRD jurisdiction. The program supports virtual and in-person walk, run, hike and/or bike events. Applicants with a qualifying event may receive a MEPRD award worth 25% of event expenses, up to a maximum of $1,000 for 501(c)3 nonprofits and up to $2,500 for public agencies. The MEPRD will begin accepting applications for the FY2023 Event Sponsorship Grant Program at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. For more information, visit www.meprd.org/event-sponsorship.
The Metro East Park and Recreation District (MEPRD) was formed by the voters of Madison and St. Clair Counties, Illinois in November 2000. The MEPRD partners with local governments, special districts, and other jurisdictions in the purpose to develop and improve parks, recreation facilities, and trails throughout the two-county region. The MEPRD also increases awareness and use of these amenities by providing related maps, data, statistics and marketing materials. For more information, visit www.meprd.org.
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