About Friends of the Parks
Since 1975, Friends of the Parks has served as the city's strongest independent advocate for improved parks and park programs, for the creation of new parks, and for better management of Chicago's recreational resources. Friends of the Parks hosts an annual Earth Day citywide parks clean-up, an Adopt-a-Park program, community service days, a neighborhood greening initiative, and park tours.
Chicago’s lakefront and neighborhood parks and critical to the health and vitality of our city. Millions of people depend on Chicago’s public parks for recreation, relaxation, fitness and fun. Visitors and citizens of our metro area enjoy Chicago’s parks and forest preserves. Friends of the Parks advocates year-round for this precious aspect of our region.
Since 1975, we have:
We also monitor the activities, budgets and proposals of the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Plan Commission and other agencies that make decisions about open space in Chicago.
- CREATED Kaleidoscope Kids, an innovative after-school program for elementary school children at nine park sites; the Chicago Park District adopted our program and expanded it to 81 parks around the city.
- INITIATED an Adopt-a-Park program in which businesses, schools, neighbors and friends care for local parks.
- HELPED plan the first Chicago Marathon in 1977.
- LED an effort to complete the now resurfaced, marked and measured 18-mile Chicago lakefront bicycle and running path from Hollywood to 71st Street.
- PROPOSED the restoration of Chicago's 500 children's playlots to make them safer and more functional for our youngest park users.
- SAVED more that 200 acres of lakefront park land from private development, including roadways, parking lots and buildings
- CONTRIBUTED over $6 million to the Chicago Park District for trees, benches, children’s playgrounds, public sculpture and restoration work
- DEVELOPED a new Environmental Education Program called "Nature Along the Lake" featuring two outdoor "classrooms" in parks
- REACHED nearly 1,000 students through our environmental education program
- CONDUCTED site surveys of Chicago’s 517 children’s playgrounds, prompting the Chicago Park District to develop a playground renovation program
- SECURED state legislation for a conservation easement on 30 acres of wetlands and woods on the northwest side of Chicago
- COMPLETED a two-year comprehensive study of Cook County Forest Preserves, resulting in a new Land Policy Ordinance and improved restoration practices
- CREATED a plan to complete the south lakefront by adding 550 acres of new south lakefront parks from 71st Street to the Indiana border
- ESTABLISHED the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance to promote science education, garden restoration, community events and visitor services, all of which led to the restoration of the historic Garfield Park Conservatory
- CONTRIBUTED $100,000 to the City of Chicago to plant trees
- MOBILIZED thousands of volunteers to clean and green Chicago’s parks on Earth Day, National Public Lands Day and Community Service Days
We extend our thanks to our members, volunteers and L.A.T.E. Ride participants who help to support our advocacy work.
Please see Friends of the Parks' website for more information.
This is what people have been saying about Friends of the Parks:
- "It's critical that we have the capacity to protect, defend and enhance our parks. Friends of the Parks is the leading example of doing this well."
Managing Director/CFO, First Chicago Capital Markets, Inc.
Vice President, Sierra Club
- "Finkl is committed to the environment and to beautifying Chicago. We’ve planted 2 million trees in Illinois and Wisconsin and are committed to planting another 2 million. I commend Friends of the Parks for its work in helping to protect and improve Chicago’s parks."
Vice President, A. Finkl & Sons Company
- "I have come to rely on Friends of the Parks for its informed opinion of issues affecting the Forest Preserve District. I know that Friends of the Parks always speaks from a position in which the care and management of our natural areas is the first and only priority."
Forest Preserve District Commissioner, 13th District
- "I always count on Friends of the Parks to be on top of any issue that involves Chicago’s lakefront and its parks. They’re willing to dig for the information they need to take decisive action. And they’re never afraid to stick their necks out if Chicago’s parks and open spaces are at risk. They're a great ally."
Associate Director, Openlands Project
- "Friends of the Parks is a godsend for Chicago parks and the residents who use them."
- "Ten of our employees participated in a Friends of the Parks’ Community Service Day. Alongside students from Senn High School, we mulched trees, raked lawn areas and planted bulbs at Senn Community Garden. It was a very rewarding experience. Friends of the Parks ran the project very well. Working with the kids was great for our whole company. We look forward to giving back to the community again."
- "I lived in Wilmette for 24 years before moving with my husband to Chicago. Because I wanted to learn more about city issues, I became a member of Friends of the Parks. I’m happy to support their citywide advocacy work on behalf of parks. I enjoy reading the newsletter, staying up-to-date on park issues and attending member events."
Chicagoan and Friends of the Parks’ member
- "Friends of the Parks is one of the Chicago Public Schools Service-Learning Initiative’s most valuable community partners. Teachers and students alike report most favorably on this collaboration."
Program Manager, Service-Learning Initiative
Chicago Public Schools
- "Friends of the Parks has always been supportive of our arts and culture initiatives at Dvorak Park in Pilsen. Despite budget cuts and other challenges, they’ve helped us keep the park alive and open."
Executive Director, Pros Arts Studio
- "I have found Friends of the Parks’ staff very supportive and informative in every way possible, from writing letters of support to local officials to finding potential funding sources. Chicago is fortunate to have an organization such as Friends of the Parks to help local communities protect and enhance their parks."
Former Partner, Altheimer & Gray
Member, Wicker Park Advisory Council
- "Friends of the Parks has shown dedication and support to Friends of DuSable’s efforts to remember Chicago’s past by promoting inclusion and diversity to all people who love public parks. We see Friends of the Parks as one of our most important friends in Chicago."
President, Friends of DuSable
- "Our community worked for two years to preserve a wooded wetland on the northwest side of Chicago. Our area was underserved for park space and open green space. Friends of the Parks took an active role and was directly involved with our efforts to stop development of 30 acres of open green space with a wooded area and natural wetland. This land has been preserved as a result of the tireless efforts and commitment of Friends of the Parks."
Joyce M. Swider
Chair, Northwest Concerned Citizens
- "I have worked with Friends of the Parks for many years and in many ways. They’re down-to-earth people who have Chicago communities’ environmental needs at heart, and they are not afraid to struggle alongside the community to meet those needs. "
Community Organizer, Howard Area Community Center
- "In our first year, Friends of the Parks helped us acquire land for park expansion and obtain commitments from the city for new parks in Logan Square. We are grateful to have formed a partnership with Friends of the Parks."
Logan Square Parks Alliance
- "I love working with Friends of the Parks. It’s like having a good friend helping me. They’ve certainly been an ally in getting our park field house renovation work accomplished."
Oakdale Park Advisory Council
- "Air quality is critical to public health in the Chicago region. The Respiratory Health Association was proud to partner with Friends of the Parks, the City of Chicago and the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority to encourage the use of cleaner running alternative fuel buses in Grant Park. By reducing air pollution in Chicago’s front yard, everybody wins - visitors and residents alike."
Director of Environmental and Health Policy
Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago
- "Friends of the Parks gave us lots of leads for sources of plant materials and services. They showed us how to generate ideas for what we can do at our park and get the community more involved."
Volunteer Community Site Coordinator, Kilbourn Park Greenhouse
- "For more than ten years, Pilsen activists have advocated for an expansion of Dvorak Park. Years ago, we identified a two-acre piece of land south of the park as the site for a potential expansion. The Chicago Park District finally acquired this parcel from a private owner. Friends of the Parks provided technical assistance, and helped us navigate through this challenging situation. We’re very happy with the outcome."
Dvorak Park Advisory Council