The Department of Parks and Recreation’s (Department) mission is to provide, protect, and preserve regional parklands for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations. Partnerships with individuals, community organizations, local businesses and other agencies is a powerful way to match enthusiasms and resources to provide greater public benefit. The Department’s 2018 Strategic Plan provides guidance to the development of parks and programs (to learn more please click here). All partnerships must serve a park purpose from recreation to natural resource stewardship to public education.
A partnership is a working relationship between organizations with compatible values and goals and that results in mutual benefits. The partnership may be formed around a single activity or event, or it may be long-term and multi-faceted. Partnering with us does not necessarily include a financial commitment. Many of our partnerships are non-financial and require only an exchange of services and/or facility usage. This is negotiable based on the interests of both parties.
Santa Clara County Parks has different types of partnerships:
Contractual partners – from user groups (Black Mountain Bowmen) to farmers and gardeners (Master Gardeners, Jacobs Farm at Martial Cottle Park) to youth education (Youth Science Institute) these partners provide programs and services via written bilateral agreements.
Volunteer/neighborhood partnerships – Individuals and organizations such as “Friends of” groups like Friends of Martial Cottle Park, who provide volunteer labor, money, and other resources.
Intra-county – collaboration with the SCC Library District, Social Services Agency and Department of Public Health have focused on ensuring that all county residents can benefit from the regional park system.
Interagency – contractual relationship to share resources to achieve a common goal such as fire management (CALFIRE) and water recreation (Valley Water).
How to become a Park Partner
In general, the Department of Parks and Recreation is open to proposals, new ideas, new programs and services and/or potential investments to park facilities or programs. Interested potential partners can explore the following approaches to collaboration with the department.
Propose an innovative recreational or educational use of park land
Public Benefit Proposals – Parks carefully evaluates partnership proposals for compliance with state and local restrictions on parkland uses. For example, the State of California restricts the use of publicly-owned parkland to park purposes. The County has approved various Park Master Plans and Policies, which also constrain the types of permissible park uses. Additionally, some of our County Parks contain restrictions on permissible uses imposed at the time the County acquired the land. Examples of park purposes include, but are not limited to, expanding resources for recreation opportunities, improving the way Parks delivers services and programs, and enhancing the amenities offered at Parks.
To ensure that partnerships further these purposes, Parks utilizes the Public Benefit Proposal process, which is designed to give all interested parties an opportunity to propose partnerships, including those which may require permits, licenses, leases, and concession agreements. Expressions of Interest will be received and reviewed on an ongoing basis. An internal review team meets four times a year to review proposals and make recommendations.
Public Benefit Proposal Form
This is the first stop for submitting a proposal for an amenity or use of park land. Please read the form in its entirety.
What is a public benefit partnership?
Public Benefit Partnerships are collaborations between the Santa Clara County Parks Department and an individual, community organization or business that helps expand resources for recreation opportunities, improves the way we deliver our services and programs, and enhances the amenities offered at our facilities. Public Benefit Partnerships are formalized by an agreement such as a permit, lease, license, contract or MOU.
How do public benefit partnerships make an impact?
Public Benefit Partnerships provide recreational and other mission aligned opportunities and capital investments that the department does not have the resources to provide.
Why do we need private investment in public space?
The voters of Santa Clara County have consistently supported dedicating a portion of the County’s general fund to invest in parks, open space and community wellbeing since 1972 when the Park Charter Fund was created. In 2016 voters renewed the fund through 2032 providing approximately $50 million a year to support our park system of 28 parks over 52,000 acres. The size of the park system and the population of Santa Clara County requires additional resources to ensure that every resident has access to the benefits of the regional park system.
Can a nonprofit or community organization partner with the parks department?
Absolutely! The department currently partners with dozens of community organizations, many of which are incorporated 501c3 organizations (e.g. Friends of Martial Cottle Park, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful). We welcome the opportunity to partner with any group who is as excited about parks, recreation and natural and cultural resource stewardship as we are.
What type of improvements fall under the Public Benefit Partnership program?
- Recreational amenity (e.g., casting ponds, bike pump track, event venue, stables)
- Educational amenity (e.g., cultural/historical use of park facility, natural resources stewardship and climate response activities)
- Radio/Cell/Weather Tower and Stations
How do I propose a Public Benefit Partnership?
- Fill out the Public Benefit Partnership Proposal Form.
Questions? Call or email Melissa Hippard, Partnership & Equity Manager 408-824-0981, [email protected]
Donate to parks and programs
The Santa Clara County Parks Department values public support from individuals, foundations, corporations, non-profit organizations, service clubs, and other entities, and seeks to foster philanthropic contributions through recognition of community support. The Park Partner Program MOU establishes a connection between the department and organizations seeking to fundraise to support the development and enhancement of parks, opens spaces, trails, programs and events in the regional park system.
- San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory