The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which includes $65 billion in direct aid to cities, towns, and villages via a State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, offers an unprecedented funding opportunity to increase children’s regular connections to nature and promote healthy child development. Guidance from the U.S. Treasury places emphasis on “serving the hardest-hit communities and families,” including to “address educational disparities” and “promote healthy childhood environments.” It also notes “investments in parks, public plazas, and other public outdoor recreation spaces may be responsive to the needs of disproportionately impacted communities by promoting healthier living environments and outdoor recreation and socialization to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

In line with this guidance, the Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) partnership of the National League of Cities and Children & Nature Network recommends local leaders consider the following uses of ARPA funds that can bring nature’s benefits to children in their neighborhoods where they live, study, and play:

  • Getting more young children outdoors, more often
  • Stormwater management and climate resilience via schoolyard greening
  • Outdoor learning and play during and beyond the school day
  • Libraries as jumping-off points for learning about and exploring nature