Akron Parks Challenge

The Akron Parks Challenge invites neighborhood residents, leaders and organizations alike to pitch their vision for how to improve their favorite Akron park. APC supports selected applicants in engaging the rest of their neighborhood to support design, implementation and upkeep. Through this program, over $3,000,000 of city and private dollars have been invested in neighborhood parks since 2018.

The 2024 Akron Parks Challenge application period has closed

We are currently reviewing applications for the sixth Akron Parks Challenge! Two parks will be selected to receive up to $150,000 in city-funded, community-inspired improvements. Judging criteria rates; equity, community engagement capacity, and project feasibility. Announcements will be made by the end of June 2024.

View the full list of Akron parks

Our Investment & Success

Proof that when we come together we can make a difference in our community.







The Project Journey

Through online surveys, door to door conversations with neighbors, events to prototype ideas and talk to people, and public meetings, each neighborhood decides on improvements. Below is what the journey looks like for the Akron Park Challenge projects.

Before Improvements

  • Akron Parks Challenge - playground
    Akron Parks Challenge - park hill
    Akron Parks Challenge - playground
  • Elizabeth Park - Before Improvements - basketball courts
    Akron Parks Challenge - aerial photo

Community Engagement, Surveys & Events

  • Girl holding certificate for Akron Parks Challenge
    Elizabeth Park community engagement - group discussing ideas
    Community engagement - people looking at maps
  • Community engagement - kids drawing pictures
    Community engagement - people discussing ideas
    Community event
  • Community engagement - lady pointing at photos
    Community engagement - people gathered and talking
    Community engagement - people eating under gazebo

Community Team Co-Designs Improvements & Budget Then Work Begins

  • Group meeting to discuss park ideas
    people building playground
    people planting shrubs
  • lady and kids painting poles
    people constructing playground
    kids cleaning up leaves

Improvements Completed - Time to Enjoy!

  • Kids playing at Elizabeth Park
    kids playing in playground
    Ariel photo of playground
  • Goodyear Heights wall mural
    kids playing on swings in playground
    Akron Parks - Erie Canal Park basketball court
  • jewett park photo
    Cadillac park photo
    Reservoir park photo

2023 Akron Parks Challenge Recipient

Morgan Park Fundraising Campaign


Initiated by a donation from the Pucci family, APC started working with South Street Ministries, Summit County Public Health, the City of Akron and previous Akron Parks Challenge applicant, Johnnie Hannah to piece together funding to improve Morgan Park in South Akron. We started by asking the community what they wanted through surveys and conversations and developed a plan to reflect the collective vision. KaBOOM! joined as a partner and worked with us to build a new playground in June, 2023. Part of the city’s available Challenge funds went to Morgan Park while another portion funded Micro-Grants.


This fall, the 3 basketball courts have been repaved along with a new perimeter trail around the park. New backboards and hoops will be installed before winter.
Next year, we will add a new pavilion and new seating chosen by the community and designed with Hazel Tree Interiors.
Funders include Summit County Public Health, GAR Foundation, the Pucci Family, CarMax Foundation and the City of Akron.

2022 Akron Parks Challenge Recipients

BOSS PARK in University Park

Located in the University Park neighborhood and adjacent to Leggett Elementary, help us realize the full neighborhood inspired vision for the park by donating to fill the $100,000 gap for a $305,000 project! Current donors for this project include the City of Akron via the Akron Parks Challenge, Summit County Public Health and funds secured by project partner Habitat for Humanity (Dominion Foundation, Summit County Landbank, City of Akron ARPA funds, Kubota, Akron Tractor).


Hyre and Lions Park are both beloved neighborhood parks in the Ellet neighborhood. Several neighbors teamed up with Hyre CLC, the Ellet Community Center and the Ellet Library Branch to dream about needed upgrades to the park that would support neighborhood vibrancy. The group won the Akron Parks Challenge in 2022 and have been working with the City and Akron Parks Collaborative to make decisions on spending the awarded $100,000 on park improvements.

2021 Akron Parks Challenge Recipients


Jewett Park is the only park in the Middlebury neighborhood. Located on a dead-end street, it was not well maintained and barely used due to safety issues. Guided by LINKS Community and Family Services with partners Neighborhood Network (a program of Habitat for Humanity of Summit County) and Summit County Public Health, the neighborhood provided input and direction on the design for the park. An official ribbon cutting is planned for July 15, 2023!


The park is filled with families most days after school
LINKS’ Youth Ambassadors are helping to maintain the park and gardens
Over a 3-day period, neighbors and partners volunteered to help build a new playground, create new landscaping, build raised garden beds and plant many trees.
An art piece which also serves as a bike rack and park entrance sign was conceived of and designed by the core team guiding the park design
Additional funders included Summa, Summit County Public Health and neighbors who participated in LINKS organized walk-a-thon.


In the fall of 2021, a new playground came to life as a KaBOOM! project. The project was led by the Summit County Think Tank Coalition. Through surveys and other community conversations the design for the park reflects the idea heard countless times that the neighborhood wants it to be like it was “back in the day”. Digging deeper, they want a community gathering place that is safe, inclusive and full of laughter and opportunities to talk to and know their neighbors.


2023 improvements will include a resurfaced, re-fenced tennis court with pickleball options
Picnic tables and benches chosen through community voting will be installed this summer
West Akron Little League rallied to keep the baseball diamond as they re-activated their organization
Additional funders included GAR Foundation and Summit County Public Health

2019 Akron Parks Challenge Recipients


The park is on Lods Street in Cascade Village and sits on the Little Cuyahoga River near N. Howard Street. The community team went to the rest of their neighborhood through surveys, door to door conversations and park events to determine the park improvements they want within a $100,000 budget. Final decisions were made by a community leadership team.


Basketball is almost constant now with the new basketball goals and glass backboards
Other completed projects include; Nature Play, 2 pavilions, walkways, benches, and picnic tables
A social justice garden has been started
Additional funding was provided by Kenny/Obayashi, Akron Community Foundation, and the Living Water Association


This park is part of the Akron Civic Commons between downtown Akron and Summit Lake. Funding from the Challenge went toward a new playground build in 2019 in partnership with KaBOOM! Akron Civic Commons, John S. and James. L. Knight Foundation, and Keurig/Dr. Pepper.


Neighborhood kids and adults helped design the playground
A sport court was part of the project allowing for basketball, volleyball and tennis
The Akron Civic Commons team continues to work in and support this neighborhood
Additional funding was provided by the John S. and James. L. Knight Foundation, and Keurig/Dr. Pepper

2018 Akron Parks Challenge Recipients


One of the largest parks in Akron, Reservoir Park is in the Goodyear Heights neighborhood and hosts a pool, playground, community center, basketball courts, tennis courts and baseball fields. A group of neighbors, some of whom were new to each other, applied for and formed the core team working on the park plans. Through an online survey, events and a public meeting, the top three priorities for the park were clear; a trail around the park, a new playground and creation of a new plaza space for gathering and connecting.


The plaza space includes a firepit, large permanent umbrellas, bistro tables and Adirondack chairs
The new trail attracts daily walkers
A natural playground was built with the help of neighborhood volunteers
Grades 3-8 from Spring Garden Waldorf School painted, created art and upgraded the park during a day of service
Many volunteer groups continue to support the park beautification
Additional funding was provided by Northern Ohio Golf Charities


Many partners and neighbors in the Kenmore neighborhood oversaw the community engagement and decision making for the park upgrades. Chestnut Ridge Park hosts a WPA era amphitheater which hadn’t hosted events in years. The playground was old and worn. Through a large community event, online survey and many community conversations, the park received electricity for sound at the amphitheater, a new playground and a new walking trail.


Friends of Chestnut Ridge Park is a neighborhood group that continues to plan programs for the park, which has included movies, Shakespeare and music
Since the Challenge, a group of neighbors raised money and installed a disc golf course
Benches were designed and built through a partnership with Krunchworks Design + Build and Summit Lake Build Corps
Funding support also came from Kenmore Construction (in-kind), Summit Disc Golf Association and program support from Akron Community Foundation


A very large traffic triangle was transformed into a neighborhood gathering space. Cadillac Park is situated in West Akron near Buchtel CLC. Community engagement was led by Cadillac Boulevard Neighborhood Development Association by going door to door to get feedback. The park now has several perennial garden beds, brick walkways, new lighting, seating and dog bag station.


Students from the Buchtel Masonry program helped construct the brick walkways and concrete center for the park
The project included lamp posts and irrigation to support the gardens
We held a neighborhood party in the park with music and food to have conversations with neighbors who could vote on park amenities
At cost bricks were provided by Belden Brick
2023 © Akron Parks Collaborative. All Rights Reserved.
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