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Organizations We Support

Friends of the Parks

About Friends of the Parks

Friends of the Parks (FOTP) is a 501(c)(3) designated park advocacy organization, dedicated to preserving, protecting, and improving Chicago's parks and forest preserves for all citizens. Since 1975, FOTP has increase private and public commitment to Chicago's parks through establishing park advisory councils, developing new parks, renovating playlots, and presenting public workshops and lectures to create and informed citizenry.

Friends of the Parks' Mission

Our mission is to preserve, protect, improve and promote the use of Chicago parks, forest preserves and recreational areas for the benefit of all neighborhoods and citizens.

How Friends of the Parks Got Started

FOTP was formed in 1975 as a response to a Chicago Park District administration which ran our park system as a political patronage army and not for the benefit of citizens and taxpayers. Tax dollars were squandered; parks were in shambles; and there was no stewardship by the primary government agency entrusted with their protection. Evidence of the problems included poor landscape maintenance and horticultural practices; poorly attended recreational programs; parks isolated from the communities they served, inequitable distribution of tax dollars; and patronage that at times paralyzed the functioning of local parks.

How Friends of the Parks Works for Change

FOTP completes policy studies on public trust issues including legal analyses, as well as reports on park management and stewardship. We work with community groups and individuals to build a strong park constituency to participate meaningfully in neighborhood park decision-making process. We develop new pilot park programs, such as the successful after-school program for children, which the Park District later adopted in parks throughout the city. We organize and sponsor regular workshops, member forums, park tours and symposia to educate and publicize environmental and park issues.

How Friends of the Parks Works with Neighborhood Park Advisory Councils

FOTP provides educational and technical assistance to park advisory councils and assist in their efforts improve their neighborhood park operation and programming.

FOTP serves park advisory councils by attending meetings in various neighborhoods. We work to form new park advisory councils by coordinating meetings with the Chicago Park District and other interested parties. We attend special issue meetings as an invited guest and provide written information and educational materials to help councils solve neighborhood problems.

FOTP serves as the fiscal agent for park advisory councils who do not have a 501C3 designation. Using FOTP's tax identification number, contributions for park improvements are tax deductible.

How Friends of the Parks' SEED GRANT Program Works

Friends of the Parks offers a grant program to park advisory councils to encourage local enhancement projects in neighborhood parks. Through this initiative, Friends of the Parks provides several small grants of up to $1,000 annually to park advisory councils and Adopt-A-Park groups.

How Friends of the Parks Works With Volunteers

Our Volunteers in Parks Program (VIP)organizes 10,000 volunteers annually as stewards to complete park cleanups, beautification and greening projects. We offer an Adopt-A-Park program. Each year, the VIP program organizes and sponsors the Midwest's largest Earth Day Parks Clean-Up event and co-hosts the Public Lands Day in the fall. We organize and coordinate community service projects in parks for universities and corporations who encourage hands-on environmental participation.

How Friends of the Parks Serves its Members

With a goal of creating more park awareness and citizen participation, Friends of the Parks sponsors quarterly education forums featuring keynote speakers who discuss issues relevant to our park system. We offer a series of park tours each year to highlight Chicago's historic park system. In addition, Friends of the Parks attends neighborhood festivals, to enable us to learn first-hand specific issues communities have regarding their local parks.

How Friends of the Parks' Public Trust Program Works

FOTP Public Trust Research and Policy Program is established to protect Chicago's scarce public park lands and lakefront from public or private encroachments. The position of Friends of the Parks is that Chicago's public parks are held in public trust for the people, and that stewardship is the responsibility of elected and appointed officials, as well as citizen volunteers and advocates.

In this program FOTP reviews and evaluates proposed developments for compliance with the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance. We review and analyze all relevant proposed city and state legislation which would have significant impact on parkland in Chicago. We monitor the decisions and actions of the Chicago Park District, as well as other municipal and governmental entities, to assure the integrity and effectiveness of the regulatory process.