Over the past 16 years, the Anchorage Park Foundation has awarded $2 million in funding through challenge grants that have leveraged nearly $5 million in cash and volunteer match to improve Anchorage parks and trails. These community-led projects brought neighbors together to transform neighborhood parks across the city.
2019 Community Challenge Grant Projects
Challenge Grants Awarded: $244,100
Number of Projects: 13
Total Project Value: $263,039 (1.7.2022)
Bonnie Cusack Memorial Rink Center Upgrades – 2019 Grant Award $40,000
Anchorage Skate Club secured approval and support from surrounding community councils for much needed security and landscaping upgrades to the Bonnie Cusack Memorial Rink Center. Security fencing is installed. Volunteers organized tree planting and landscaping upgrades to the rinks entrance and parking lot to meet their cash match.
Centennial Park Eagle Scout Project – 2019 Grant Award $2,175
This project installed new campsite signs at one of the only campgrounds in the Anchorage Bowl. An Eagle Scout replaced identification plates for campsites and fixed informational signs at the park’s entrance.
Chanshtnu Muldoon Park Food Forest & Community Garden – 2019 Grant Award $29,115
The Food Forest and Community Garden continues a Challenge Grant awarded in 2017 cycle. Kristi Wood grafted 39 fruit trees and cultivated 120 shrubs that were installed in 2021 with more than 100 volunteers and a summer of events. Youth Employment in Parks helped build a trail and install wheelchair-friendly community garden plots. The gardens, food forest and dog parks will be open the summer of 2022. The volunteer efforts supplement voter-approved bonds and a federal grant through the Land and Water Conservation Fund to build this new section of the park.
Chester Creek Single Track Safety Signage – 2019 Grant Award $5,000
Anchorage’s newest single-track trail near Valley of the Moon Park will receive new signage in summer 2022. South Addition Community Council Vice President Hans Thompson organized several successful volunteer events to remove invasive chokecherry/Mayday tree/European Bird Cherry/Prunus padus on the Chester Creek Trail.
Far North Bicentennial Park Sled Dog Trail Safety Signage – Grant Award $2,243
The Alaska Sled Dog Racing Association (ASDRA) provided new signage in Far North Bicentennial Park to clearly delineate which trails are designated for mushers. In October 2019 ASDRA volunteers ordered new signs and organized volunteer installation days. Volunteers used their own equipment to drill holes for sign posts and install them.
Folker Park Reflexology Path – 2019 Grant Award $21,000
Volunteers with the Alaska Reflexology Association raised more than $40,000 for the project, including one $20,000 donation. It is one of the only public therapeutic reflexology paths in the world, with a unique artistic design. This project generated one of the highest on record volunteer matches, with more than $50,000 of volunteer time logged in 2019 and 2020. The volunteer power leveraged a matching grant from AARP to install music equipment in the park as well. Phase 1 construction of Folker Park has completely transformed the once-neglected UMed Park into an inviting space for neighbors, students, and medical patients in the community. Physical and occupational therapists bring their clients to the area to take advantage of the park’s theme as an “intergenerational health and healing park.” Learn more about continued efforts.
Girdwood Lower Iditarod National Historic Trail – 2019 Grant Award $5,000
The Girdwood Trails Committee led in the completion of the Girdwood Lower Iditarod NHT from the Girdwood valley entrance to Crow Pass Trail. Phase 2 segment was approximately 1/3 of a mile and improved the section of trail from Ruane Rd to Karolius Road. This project will help to transform a social trail into a more accessible path for users. Completed work will also improve sightlines, drainage, and create a new hardpacked trail surface.
Little Free Libraries in Parks – 2019 Grant Award $3,500
Best Beginnings recruited volunteers to design, build and install free little libraries in 10 parks across Anchorage. Sponsors will pay for cost of the free little libraries and will be responsible for maintenance of the libraries in the future. Each library will receive a collection of books from Best Beginnings. Look for the libraries at the following parks: Brotherhood/Sisterhood Park, Chanshtnu Muldoon new garden area, Moen Park, Creekside Park, Wolverine Park, Jewel Lake Park, Pop Carr Park, Sunset Park on Government Hill, Wickersham Park, Campbell Park, and Rabbit Creek Trail.
Moen Park Exercise Equipment- 2019 Grant Award $20,000
A Moen Park neighbor organized volunteer clean up and trail maintenance events as part of her match to buy new adult fitness equipment in Moen Park. Crews will install the equipment in 2022.
Rabbit Creek Park Trail Improvements – 2019 Grant Award $40,000
Community Member Dan Fleming and Youth Employment in Parks teens transformed a popular social trail into a permanent gravel trail complete with new signs, dog waste disposal stations, benches, and landscape improvements. The project is a safe route to school for students attending Rabbit Creek Elementary and South High School.
Ruth Arcand Park Trail – 2019 Grant Award $18,500
In September of 2019, teachers and staff with Pacific Northern Academy celebrated the completion of a new nature trail through Ruth Arcand Park. The new trail marked the completion of a challenge grant originally awarded in the 2017 cycle. Previous challenge grant cycle funds were used to install five obstacle course activities and improved trails by adding wood chips, soil and gravel and removing roots to level. The new Ruth Arcand Trail connects with this trail system and runs from Spring Hill Elementary and Hanshew Middle School to a pedestrian underpass under Lake Otis. The trail was completed in July of 2019 by crews with Youth Employment in Parks. Teens spent two weeks in the summer heat, clearing thick brush and laying the foundation for the new soft surface. Before their work began, crews carefully surveyed the forest floor to create a low-grade trail that would be more accessible for individuals using wheelchairs and mobility difficulties.
Spenard Beach Park Improvements – 2019 Grant Award $10,000
Spenard and Turnagain Community Councils (SCC and TCC) teamed up to improve this favorite spot for tourists and neighbors to watch the activities at the busiest floatplane base in the world. Volunteer days at the park will supplement their cash match. In summer of 2022 look for new benches, picnic tables and trash cans at this lakeside park popular with birders and people walking the loop around the lake.
Taku Lake Park Skatepark Renovation and Expansion – 2019 Grant Award $40,000
Owners of South Anchorage’s Blue & Gold Board Shop, assembled an amazing team of artists, including band members of Portugal. The Man, a popular national band with Alaskan roots, to help raise their $40,000 cash match. Events to auction donated local artwork with Anchorage Brewing Company and Girdwood Brewing were successful. The total includes a previous donation from the Tony Hawk Foundation for $10k. Located just off the Campbell Creek trail, the skatepark is already a much- loved asset for the skater community. The funds will supplement more than $1 million in bonds approved by Anchorage voters. Construction will start in 2022. Support the Taku Lake Skatepark Renovation and Expansion
Wolverine Park Learning Lab – 2019 Grant Award $4,000
In May of 2019, parents and elementary students from Campbell STEM Elementary came out for one final volunteer day to complete work on their new Outdoor Learning Lab at Wolverine Park. Students and teachers worked with local landscape architect firm Earthscape on the design and partnered with APF’s Schools on Trails program. They planted trees, restored trails and installed birdhouses for the match. It is now being used for activities like recording seasonal changes, wildlife observations, and mapping the park’s geography.
Woodside (Eastchester) Park Improvements – 2019 Grant $17,000
Fairview Community Council made several improvements at Woodside or Eastchester Park to provide a unique “Fairview neighborhood identity” for the park. The neighborhood raised funds and organized volunteer events to support sprucing up the park through aesthetic improvements including artful visual wraps for utility boxes and tree plantings.
APF Community Challenge Grants are made possible with generous support from Rasmuson Foundation.