Challenge Grantees Make Strides

Anchorage Park Foundation awarded 16 Challenge Grants this year, with the support of Rasmuson Foundation. Challenge Grants encourage community stewardship and partnership to make positive changes in Anchorage’s parks and trails. Recipients of the grant must match the funds with private donations, in-kind services, or volunteer hours, and have two years to make their project happen. Here’s what was accomplished this summer:

Renovations began at Fairview Park as part of the Challenge Grant project championed by Anchorage Community Land Trust and the Fairview Community Council.  We joined the Challenge Grantees along with the Mayor’s Americorps Resiliency Coalition and Fairview neighbors to plant apple trees, strawberries, and rhubarb, build hexagonal raised beds, paint benches, and install temporary art on the fence. The Fix-It was the first step in a plan for major improvements to the park.

The Anchorage Rotary Club partnered with Victims for Justice to turn the often-overlooked Victims for Justice Memorial in Hostetler Park into a more accessible and inviting space for families and friends to mourn the loss of their loved ones, as well as find hope and healing. Improvements included replacing the memorial, installing an ADA-compliant walkway, increasing lighting, and landscaping.

The Samoan cricket (Kilikiti) community celebrated their new official field in Dave Rose Park. The Kilikiti community has been playing in parks all over Anchorage for the last few years and now have a permanent home. The new layout includes a 455-square foot concrete pitch surrounded by a large circular field.

Progress towards a health and healing themed park is well underway at Folker Park in the U-Med District. Volunteers planted forget-me-not flowers to mimic a stream weaving through the park’s east side. Not only is the blue forget-me-not Alaska’s state flower, but it’s also the official Alzheimer’s symbol. In May, park neighbor Barbara Garner and the Providence Horizon House, a senior residency located across the street, were awarded a Challenge Grant for their idea of a fitness area with equipment that seniors, adults, and youth of all ages can use together. The group continues working toward their vision.

Campbell STEM Elementary has big dreams of regularly taking their lessons outside, especially as Anchorage’s first STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) elementary school. The STEM Afterschool Club broke ground at Wolverine Park to begin implementing some of their educational improvement goals by planting new shrubs and seeds in the park. With help of volunteer landscape architects Elise Huggins (Earthscape) and Bri Kiefer (Huddle AK), the students developed an educational improvement plan for Wolverine Park, which includes an outdoor learning lab with seating and writing spaces, interpretive signs highlighting the local birds and vegetation, trail improvements, and more.

Want to check out all the Challenge Grant projects we awarded this year? Find them here! The next cycle is in 2019, so start brainstorming ideas to improve your neighborhood parks and trails.