Mayor Cherelle L. Parker’s commitment to a safer, cleaner, greener city helps support outdoor activities that promote good health. Those activities are especially important at a time when many of us feel isolated and disconnected from other people living in our communities.

Last fall, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D. warned us of a nationwide epidemic of loneliness and its negative health effects. Dr. Murthy warned that social disconnection puts people at an increased risk for depression, anxiety and suicide, and heightens our risk for stress-related physical ailments, such as heart disease, stroke and dementia.

Recently, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Division of Chronic Disease Prevention, along with the Clean Air Council’s Feet First Philly program awarded mini-grants to 21 Philadelphia organizations to enhance public spaces and help reduce the negative health effects of loneliness and isolation in our communities.

The mini-grants, with awards of up to $2,000 per project, will help improve public spaces and make them more accessible to residents. The grants support projects that are designed for safer, cleaner, greener, more connected and more walkable communities in the city.

The grants will support:

  • Greening projects.
  • Infrastructure and cleaning projects.
  • Programming and public art projects.
  • Lighting and security projects.

All of the funded projects are in communities that need better public spaces and have higher rates of chronic disease and gun violence.

Green spaces

Greening projects are designed to improve green space and add plants, flowers, and various amenities to public spaces. Grants for these projects were awarded to:

  • Community Alliance for Development, which will enhance a community green space by adding benches, planters, foliage, signs, and tools for maintenance. The space will be used for community gatherings and programs.
  • Disney-Nichols AME Church, which will enhance green space for events such as flea markets, community programs, and workshops.
  • Do Moore Good, which will beautify a community garden and provide a safe space for community gatherings and programs to educate residents about growing food.
  • Greater Philadelphia Asian Social Service Center, which will encourage community engagement by improving garden spaces in North Philadelphia.
  • Klean Kensington, which will clean and beautify abandoned lots, providing public spaces for community activities such as gardening.
  • Nicetown-Tioga Improvement Team RCO, which will convert abandoned lots into art parks, creating functional community green spaces.
  • 58th Street Neighbors, which will install benches and lighting at a community garden.

Clean spaces

Infrastructure and cleaning projects are designed to improve mobility by making pedestrian spaces more accessible and appealing. Grants for these projects were awarded to:

  • Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, which will install planters at a proposed crosswalk, solar streetlights, and yard signs to help calm traffic and connect two major community resources, the Rainbow de Colores Playground and Angel Community Garden in Northeast Philadelphia.
  • Belmont Alliance Civic Association CDC, which will install the first phase of an entryway sidewalk to the Belmont Commons Cultural Activities Park on North Preston Street.
  • Exhibit A Art Design, which will install a mural that advocates for safe, healthy communities and promotes history education.
  • Germantown Residents for Economic Alternatives Together, for projects that include greening, infrastructure, and lighting. The projects will improve a community gathering space by installing lighting and a shaded structure and pruning trees and shrubbery.
  • Hunting Park Neighborhood Advisory Committee, for its urban blight removal project, which focuses on trash removal, dumping, and cleaning vacant lots.
  • Mantua Civic Association, for its 34th Street planter project, which will add 10 planters to the sidewalk on Mantua Avenue. That will help beautify the corridor and protect pedestrians from traffic.
  • Wynnefield Heights Community Association, which will make improvements to Woodside Park with the installation of a mini-library for children and families, and dog waste stations. Funding will also be used to clean the park space and plant flowers and trees.

Active spaces

Programming and public art projects are designed to provide programs and activities in public spaces, as well as murals and other art installations. Grants for these projects were awarded to:

  • Frankford Community Development Corporation, which will make pedestrian improvements to Church Street Gateway using the theme “Thrive, Connect, and Renew.” Funding will help facilitate community engagement and improve the gateway, which will include a public art installation.
  • Hunting Park Green, which will construct and install 20 positive message boards to encourage community members living in heavily industrialized areas.
  • Original American Foundation, which will use a community garden to provide workshops that teach gardening skills, as well as workshops that promote self-sustainability to residents in Southwest Philadelphia.
  • Susquehanna Clean Up/Pick Up Inc., which will educate residents about illegal parking and implement ways to prevent illegal parking.
  • Tacony Community Development Corporation, which will use art to promote activities on Torresdale Avenue through a series of collaborative community painting events.

Safe spaces

Lighting and security projects provide lighting in community spaces to improve accessibility at night. Grants for these projects were awarded to:

  • Friends of Campbell Square, which will install café-style lighting along the southern portion of Campbell Square to better engage residents as they enter the space from Allegheny Avenue.
  • Friends of Carroll Park, which will install a security door on a park shed to protect tools, beverages, equipment, decorations, and other items used for programs and events.