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New Grant Funds the Creation of the Kilbourn Park Explorers Garden.
New Grant Funds the Creation of the Kilbourn Park Explorers Garden.
Photo: Chicago Park District

The Chicago Park District in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), has received a $26,000 grant to provide increased access to play and physical activity for kids and families through built environment enhancements.

The gift is part of a $400,000 grant NRPA received from the Target Corporation to connect communities through outdoor play in park and recreation agencies across the country. 

Through the grant, the Chicago Park District will provide youth and families with more opportunities for physical activity as well as nature play. The goal is to create an environment that promotes physical and mental health.

NRPA will collect data from the programs in order to provide best practices and share successes with park and recreation leaders throughout the country.  

The grant will help the Chicago Park District create the Kilbourn Park Explorers Garden. The Explorers Garden will provide Kilbourn Park, located at 3501 N. Kilbourn Ave., with a number of new or improved amenities, including a native habitat for pollinators, a human-scale sundial, and a shaded seating area for leisure use. This area, located near the Organic Greenhouse, a small soccer field and the playground, provides a direct line of view to the park’s popular features. The space provides parents with a space to sit and watch their children at play in the playground. Additional improvements to the space will include a water pump and mud kitchen for play, new fencing and mulch trails with edging, and growing of native planting beds. 

The new Garden, that is inherently a space for collaborative interaction, will encourage kids and adults to engage in outdoor, nature and imaginative play. 

Parks are essential to healthy lifestyles, vibrant communities and a healthy environment, but not everyone has a great park. NRPA works to ensure all parks in all places are benefiting all people. NRPA partners with their network of 60,000 park and recreation members to strengthen communities by offering equitable access to healthy activities and safe play spaces and protecting our natural resources.

“The Chicago Park District is grateful to the National Recreation and Park Association and Target for making park improvement projects feasible by providing grants that make a difference in our communities,” said Chicago Park District CEO & Superintendent Michael P. Kelly. “Their support will help transform an underutilized space into a thriving play and leisure area that will be a great asset to the community for years to come.”

About the Chicago Park District 
The Chicago Park District is the 2014 Gold Medal Award winner, recognized for excellence in park and recreation management across the nation. For more information about the Chicago Park District’s more than 8,300 acres of parkland, more than 585 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 12 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, nearly 50 nature areas, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs, please visit or contact the Chicago Park District at 312/742.PLAY or 312/747.2001 (TTY). Want to share your talent? Volunteer in the parks by calling, 312/742.PLAY.

About The National Recreation and Park Association 
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit