New Report Examines the State of Parks and Recreation

National Recreation and Park Association releases annual park and recreation data and insights in Agency Performance Review

Ashburn, Va., May 04, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A recently released National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) report, the 2021 NRPA Agency Performance Review (2021 APR), outlines the essential services parks and recreation provides, and provides industry professionals the information they need to gain funding support, improve operations and better serve their communities. This report, with its accompanying interactive and customizable online reporting tools, is the most comprehensive resource of park and recreation data and insights in the United States.

The 2021 APR outlines key metrics that enable park and recreation professionals to compare agencies and identify best practices. Key findings from the report show that the typical park and recreation agency:

  • Has 2,277 residents per park
  • Has one playground for every 3,607 residents
  • Has 8.2 full-time employees per 10,000 residents
  • Has operating expenditures per capita of $88.30
  • Has 9.9 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents
  • Has revenue to operating expenditures of 22.9 percent

The report also finds that 58 percent of agencies deliver science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming to youth and young adults, illustrating the essential role of park and recreation professionals in the lives of youth.

The 2021 APR’s key findings come from the data provided by 1,000 park and recreation agencies in NRPA Park Metrics, NRPA’s benchmarking resource that assists park and recreation professionals in the effective management and planning of their operating resources and capital facilities. The report supports the park and recreation industry by allowing agencies to evaluate their performance against their peers, validate the need for resources and funding, and gain a greater understanding of the current state of the field nationwide.

“The events of 2020 demonstrated that parks and recreation is essential to our communities’ health and well-being,” said Kevin Roth, NRPA vice president of research, evaluation and technology. “The 2021 APR shows the important services park and recreation professionals provide and the reasons for offering greater support for these professionals as they continue to serve their communities.”

The 2021 APR helps park and recreation professionals evaluate the performance of their agencies by understanding how they relate to their peers in terms of staffing, budget, and the amount of park space and facilities. Combined with other resources — such as NRPA’s Engagement with Parks report, Parks Snapshot surveys and Park Pulse polls — this data can help park and recreation professionals receive the support they need to provide services that meet the unique needs of their communities.

To view the report, interactive tables, customizable reports and corresponding infographic, visit

To learn more about NRPA, visit


About the National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals and advocates — the catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit


Infographic of key data from the 2021 NRPA Agency Performance Review

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