NRPA Launches New Initiative to Develop Year-Round Workforce Pathways for Youth in Parks and Recreation

$2 million in funding provided by the U.S. Department of Labor to support the development and implementation

Ashburn, VA, Feb. 21, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is proud to launch a new initiative dedicated to developing a Workforce Development Framework for local park and recreation agencies. Funding for this three-year program (grant #23A60YP00002-01-00) is provided by the United States Department of Labor through the Workforce Pathways for Youth program.

Through this grant, NRPA will work with multiple partners to help 2,200 individuals engage in workforce development experiences. Key partners include Mounty Airy (North Carolina) Parks and Recreation, Robeson County (North Carolina) Parks and Recreation and 20 additional agencies through two NRPA-facilitated Communities of Practice. Other partners on this project include NCWorks, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, PlayCore and The Toro Company.

Relying on their expertise and resources, partners on this project will help create positive workforce development and career readiness services, support the local grantees and Community of Practice participants, and contribute to the development of a virtual learning series and new guiding framework for parks and recreation.

“Thousands of park and recreation agencies across the country offer a workforce development and/or career exploration program targeted to youth and young adults entering the labor force for the first time,” said Kristine Stratton, NRPA president and CEO. “Building workforce skills and connecting young people to new career opportunities will help strengthen the park and recreation professional pipeline and workforce, ensuring that parks and recreation continues its essential role in creating inclusive, thriving and resilient communities in the United States.

The workforce development system encompasses many interrelated programs, efforts and partners, including academic partners, local employers, workforce development boards, community-based organizations and local governments. Workforce development benefits current and future employers and provides opportunities for young people — including educational and vocational attainment​, interest building in careers and industries, and essential and tactical skill development — as well as removes barriers to employment.

The U.S. Department of Labor awarded this grant through the Workforce Pathways for Youth program. This program intends to support grant recipients’ efforts to supply workforce readiness programming for historically underserved youth from ages 14 to 21 in 21 states and American Samoa. Organizations will deliver job training and develop summer and year-round workforce pathway opportunities for youth and include strategies, such as soft skills development, career exploration, job readiness and industry-based certifications.

NRPA's Workforce Pathways for Youth initiative is funded by a $2,000,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. This funding provides 100% of the support for the Workforce Pathways for Youth initiative.

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


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