about friends

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is committed to engaging our community in the betterment of our city’s
parks, trees, and green spaces through volunteerism, park activation, philanthropy and urban forestry.

A Brief History

During the recession of 2008, the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department experienced budget cuts, leading to downfalls in park maintenance.

A group of neighbors recognized that they had the ability to band together and address these needs – and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks (or Friends, as we often call it) was born. At this time, volunteers often invested in basic park maintenance to keep these spaces open for children throughout the city.

Today, the City of Grand Rapids has a strong and thriving parks department, and Friends’ role has changed. We work in partnership with the department to meet the goals of the city’s Master Plan by creating stewards for parks and trees.

Our four pillars of action are volunteerism, urban forestry, park activation, and philanthropy.

learn about our programs →

Our Mission

We work with the community and city to plant, grow, and maintain parks, trees, and trails to ensure the healthiest city in North America! Our Mission directly supports the vision for the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation in creating and supporting a healthy, vibrant community. When we are successful, the community is successful!

Our Vision

Thriving parks and sustainable urban forest that actively support our community’s economic, environmental, and cultural health.

Our Strategic Goals

Healthy Parks: est. $4.8 million adopt all 76 park units for cleaning and maintenance; develop and implement a work plan for invasive species control in 600 acres of natural areas in parks

15,000 Trees: est. $12 million filling in half of the estimated 20,000 tree vacancies in the public right of way with an emphasis on neighborhoods with high tree vacancies and giving away another 5,000 trees for private property

The Grand Loop: est. $2.3 million ensures 90%* of residents are no more than 10 blocks away from a dirt trail or bike park maximizing accessible trails for all

Our Values


for people &
the planet


with team &


in parks, trees, green champions, and team


justice, equity, diversity, & inclusion in the outdoors


is essential for the
well-being of all

By The Numbers

Tree goal for 2024 (900 street trees and 150 giveaways)
Trees planted in 2023 (1,003 street/park trees and 300 giveaways)
Total trees planted to date since 2008
Total volunteer hours in 2023
Total volunteer hours in 2022
Total volunteer hours since 2013

Our Programs