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News - Details

USYS Tip Sheet For States American Rescue Act (ARPA) Funds

Tip Sheet - Tapping Local/County/State ARPA Resources (2/5/23)

The American Rescue Act (ARPA) was passed during the pandemic and includes over $65 billion in direct aid to cities and towns. The funding is very flexible with a wide range of approved uses – including for maintenance or improvement/establishment of parks/recreation spaces, youth development, public health, etc.

The funds are not required to be obligated until December 31, 2024 and jurisdictions have until December 31, 2026 to fully expend their funds.

The funding levels seem pretty generous so there MIGHT be an opportunity for state associations to work with local/county governments to tap into this funding for programming and/or facilities. And while large cities with big staffs and a consultant budget may have more than enough ideas/expertise to get the funding spent, some smaller cities/towns may welcome ideas and expertise knowing they must spend the money by 12/31/26. If you want to do some checking on your state’s allocations, I’d suggest:

STEP ONE: Get a sense of how much COVID Relief funding (“ARPA”) went to your state and specific communities. Go here:

Once at the link, scroll down to the map of the US - click on a state in the map and you can see how much each city/community in your state received.

STEP TWO: Find info on what a community/county is planning to spend its ARPA funds on and see if there are any funds set aside for parks, neighborhood development, community engagement, youth engagement, etc. As you look, don’t give up if all funds seem to be spoken for - with funds needing to be spent by 12/31/26, local government may welcome ideas/expertise for new ideas if some initial plans fall through. A few resources to help you find info are below.

Resource 1: Brookings Institute Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker

This listing is NOT comprehensive and is not completely updated (the page says it was updated in 12/22 with data through 6/22). But this is a good place to start. Examples of information I found here (Exciting to see Reno is already planning to use some $ for fields!):

  • Anne Arundel County, MD. $2,227,000. To help maintain a safe and healthy park system for the benefit of all County residents. We expect that, by meeting the recreational needs of our residents, we will see a continued high level of park attendance.
  • Buffalo City, New York. $20,000,000. These funds will be allocated to improving the quality of City parks. Safe and accessible parks have been a critical component of the City’s response to the pandemic because they offered residents a public space where they could safely go for maintenance of their physical and mental well-being. At least 8 City parks in neighborhoods throughout the City will receive improvements worth approximately $500,000 to $1 million each. Additionally, $8.5 million will be set aside for the construction of an indoor sports facility at Shoshone Park. The need for such a facility has been highlighted by various entities and the recently completed Parks Master Plan, and this allocation will accelerate this project. At this time the Department of Public Works Division of Parks is developing the professional (Architectural and Engineering) services scope of work based on the spending plan description. These A/E design services are being advanced for Shoshone Park, JFK Park, MLK Jr. Park, and McCarthy Park for 2022. Next steps include design meetings with stakeholders and the working group for the project.
  • Reno, NV. $1,115,000. Parks played an essential role to the community during the pandemic, and maintaining parks close to residents is essential for long term public health and reducing the impacts COVID-19. This project outlines the addition of flat fields to increase availability for local youth sports leagues. By creating additional fields, we will reduce the gap in field availability, the amenity which is most heavily lacking for the City of Reno.

Resource 2: National League of Cities (NLC) Local Action Tracker.

The listing at this link is also NOT comprehensive – scroll down to the map/listing. Again, this is NOT comprehensive and NLC stopped updating in 2/22. But another good place to start.

Some examples shared at this link:

  • Bay City, MI. The Bay City Commission approved three separate allocations of a portion of its $31,076,578 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to go towards projects that are aimed at improving the lives of youth in the community. A $750,000 allocation was approved for a city-wide early childhood initiative, $250,000 was allocated to the NAACP to implement a proposal to assist struggling youth and families, and approximately $500,000 was designated to a request for proposals (RFP) for a youth employment initiative.
  • Fresno, CA. The Fresno City Council approved on Thursday how millions of dollars from the mid-year budget surplus and first allocation of the American Rescue Plan Act will be spent. Councilmember Miguel Arias said that between the mid-year budget surplus and ARPA funds, the city is dedicating around $40 million to neighborhood improvements and more than $10 million to parks. Around $10 million will go toward revenue replacement of city jobs.
  • Springfield, MA. The city intends to use $12 million in American Rescue Plan Act money to create an economic recovery fund for projects that improve and enhance neighborhoods. Neighborhood is the key word in the name because funding will be directed to projects at the neighborhood level that improve quality of life. Projects can be identified by residents, and will be deliberated and recommended by the various neighborhood councils before being forwarded to the mayor’s office for final approval.

Resource 3: Google, your local/county web sites, etc. If you know a city/county got funds because of step 1 but that location isn’t listed in either of the 2 tools above, I would just do some online searching using key words like “ARPA funding” “local recovery funds” “COVID relief funding” and the locality you are researching.

STEP 3: Find out what you can about the status of the community plans with a quick google search and/or poking around the city/county website. All information is going to be useful – and news articles, etc may be helpful in identifying local champions for various pieces of the plan.

STEP 4: Reach out to the decision makers. If you found funding pots that seem worth pursuing, figure out who to either email or call to find out where things are in the process and what opportunities you might have to influence plans – could be a Council person, county commissioner, city staff, Parks & Rec Director, other community partner, etc. If you haven’t reached out to elected or city/county officials before and this step is confusing, feel free to reach out to me for a quick consult. Couple other things:

  • Stating the obvious, elected officials ALWAYS listen more closely to people who can vote for them, so if you have a club or Board member or volunteer in the area, I’d engage them if possible. If you don’t have a club or any presence, you can do the approach on your own.
  • Use the initial conversation to find out information on status and to learn how real any opportunity is for you. Should the city or county indicate that all money has been allocated, ask that your request be included in any funds that become available during the reallocation of non-expended funds.
  • As you prepare for the meeting, be ready to give the gist of your idea for facilities or programming in the event the person you are talking to is open to hearing additional ideas (either for the ARPA funds or other).

Steps after this will depend on what you learn from the decision maker – if you want to talk through next steps, call me. And if you have any success, please share with us so we can share your efforts with others to replicate if possible.

Other Background Resources:

IDEA TO PITCH (Pun intended ) - US Soccer Foundation Mini Pitch system! The U.S. Soccer Foundation, in partnership with Musco Sports Lighting, has a solution called the Mini-Pitch System. They identify underutilized areas and transform them into state-of-the-art safe places to play soccer. Parks Departments and School Districts are starting to invest in the Mini-Pitch System nationwide to help grow the game in underserved areas. The Mini-Pitch System goes for a flat rate including the walled system, lights, surface, branding, and the Foundation’s project management of the installation. Once the system is installed, there are no additional maintenance fees aside from what was already required at the space, prior to the MPS installation. The separate Impact Report could be shared with local elected officials so they can see the outcomes firsthand. If you’d like to connect directly with the U.S. Soccer Foundation to better understand the Mini-Pitch System before contacting your local elected official, please reach out to Alex Bard ( ARPA FAQ: >250,000 people-,Is there a deadline to report or spend the funds,to fully expend their funds. ARPA and Parks:

Questions, suggestions or want a quick consult – text or email Sarah Jennings (, 605-759-2199).