Partnerships Lab

Photo of the The Lake

The Partnerships Lab is a co-creative process designed to foster change for parks and public spaces.


The Institute for Urban Parks’ Partnerships Lab is a free, 10-month program that supports urban parks and open-space organizations as they identify critical challenges and develop tailored strategies for long-term success. Through the Lab, organizations enhance their ability to steward great public spaces so that they can better serve the cities in which they operate.

Throughout the program, the Institute plays the role of facilitator, project manager, and advisor, providing access to a diverse array of expert knowledge and training opportunities and connecting your organization with a cohort of peer organizations from across the country.

Learn more about the 2023 Partnerships Lab cohort below.


Partnerships for Parks, New York City
Partnerships for Parks annually supports nearly 500 park groups and over 19,000 volunteers in neighborhoods across NYC. We serve all park groups and actively seek out opportunities to engage with historically under-resourced and underrepresented neighborhoods to advance equity in our parks and our city.
Socrates Sculpture Park, New York City
For over 35 years, Socrates Sculpture Park has been a model of public art production, community activism, and socially inspired placemaking. Over 1,000 artists have created and exhibited new work on its five waterfront acres and outdoor studio facilities. Socrates is free and open to the public 365 days a year from 9:00 am to sunset. Located in Long Island City, Socrates Sculpture Park is a not-for-profit organization licensed by NYC Parks to manage and program this public park.
Southern Queens Park Association, New York City
SQPA’s mission is to coordinate and provide comprehensive programs to children, youth, adults, families, and seniors residing in Southeast Queens. It finds innovative ways to combine its stewardship of the 54-acre Southern Queens–Roy Wilkins Park with its mission to enhance the quality of life of residents.
Capitol Riverfront BID, Washington, DC
The Capitol Riverfront BID provides place management services that assist in creating a neighborhood that is clean, safe, accessible, unique, friendly, and vibrant. The BID actively collaborates to support the development of the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood as a downtown along the Anacostia River in Washington, DC. In support of this mission, the BID provides a comprehensive array of maintenance, development, and community services.
Emancipation Park Conservancy, Houston, TX
Located in the heart of Houston’s historic Third Ward community, Emancipation Park was founded in 1872 by four formerly enslaved African-Americans. For over 150 years, this sacred ground has been respected and honored. Emancipation Park Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 2014 to restore, manage, and enhance Emancipation Park. Its purpose is to create an open space for environmental and community excellence while continuing to preserve the integrity and historical roots of the park. Its goal is to transform the park into one of the nation’s premier landmark parks and international destinations.
Mill River Park Collaborative, Stamford, CT
Mill River Park Collaborative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the ongoing development and preservation of a world-class park in the heart of downtown Stamford. With the support of private donors, members, and the City of Stamford, the Collaborative guides the development of a vibrant community greenspace where all are welcome to relax, play, learn, and connect with nature.
Moncus Park, Lafayette, LA
Moncus Park is a supporter-funded nonprofit dedicated to developing and maintaining 100 acres of greenspace, showcasing the cultures and talents of Acadiana, uniting communities through celebrations, and creating traditions together. Moncus Park does not receive local tax dollars for maintenance or operation, nor is it included in Lafayette Consolidated Government’s annual budget. This nonprofit park conservancy model is the first in Acadiana and part of a growing trend across the country.


“The Partnerships Lab helped us step outside ourselves and see from a national perspective…it gave us the wind in our sails, the right kind of push we needed at the right moment."

Meagan Elliott, Chief Parks Planner, City of Detroit Parks & Recreation

“The Institute team provided invaluable guidance on present-day challenges and worked with VCPA to develop and implement a roadmap for the future. I am ever grateful.”

Stephanie Ehrlich, Executive Director, Van Cortlandt Park Alliance and Park Administrator, NYC Parks

Learn more about our work in the Institute for Urban Parks Partnerships Lab Analysis:

What We Learned: Lessons for Urban Parks (2021).