Partnerships Lab

Photo of the The Lake
Submit your own photo!

An urban park fellowship for organizations and agencies that care for parks and public spaces.

The Institute developed and launched the Partnerships Lab, our capacity-building initiative, in spring 2019. Through an annual application, we identify and engage in a collaborative nine-month process with nonprofit organizations and agencies in New York City and across the country.

Partnership Benefits

Staff Time

An Institute Director will serve as a project manager and will guide the process of mentorship, visioning, and planning with each partner. Additional Institute and Conservancy staff will be available as needed for each partnership.

Foundations of Urban Park Leadership

A customized, multi-day retreat will include leadership and strength training, peer-to-peer exchange and networking, personal and professional reflection, and mentorship engagements with the Conservancy and other prominent park organizations.


As needed, the Institute will engage experts from the Conservancy and other organizations to support efforts that meet the identified challenge. External partners may include professionals who have specific expertise related to the identified project, such as development and fundraising strategists, operations managers, and communications consultants, among others.

Network of Urban Park Peers

On a monthly basis, National and NYC partners will gather together to participate in an informal discussion, focused on relationship building, knowledge sharing, and the workshopping of ideas.

Preferred Placement in the Urban Park Leadership Program

One individual from each participating organization will have the opportunity to apply for early admission to the Institute’s 2022 Urban Park Leadership Program. Participation is not required and admission is not guaranteed. The Leadership Program is designed for senior-level urban park professionals and offers the skills and knowledge critical to the successful management of urban parks and the public-private partnerships that support them.

Capacity Building Grant

A capacity building grant will be provided to each organization at the beginning of the partnership cycle. The capacity building grant must be used exclusively to address the challenges and goals identified by the organization during the Partnerships Lab.

Our selected partners work closely with Institute staff to reflect on current challenges and future visions, and develop strategies to innovate or strengthen their abilities to support parks and public spaces. To accomplish this, we provide resources including staff time, group learning and individual coaching, external advising, implementation grants, and access to a broad network of urban park professionals.

The 2021 Partnerships Lab application opens Monday, November 16, 2020.

For more information about the Partnerships Lab, please contact Grey Elam, Director of NYC Programs, [email protected] or Sarah Tracy, Director of National Programs, [email protected].

2019-2020 Partnerships Lab Participants