While the organization has only been public-facing since 2015, the Louisville Metro Parks Foundation, LLC, (LMPF) was formed as a 501(c) non-profit in December 2005. The initial focus of the Foundation was as the fiscal agent for land acquisitions for Jefferson Memorial Forest and the Louisville Loop, a role that concluded in 2011. During these early years the foundation consisted of a small group of committed volunteers.
In 2012, the Foundation completed its first project in an existing park, a walking path in Breslin. This success began a new focus for the Foundation, raising funds for playgrounds in three West Louisville Parks. Fundraising toward this goal was in its infancy until the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau (now Louisville Tourism) brought Jack O'Lantern Spectacular (JOLS) to town in 2013. LMPF agreed to partner with the producers of the show and became the recipient of the proceeds.
In the spring of 2015 (after the second JOLS), there were sufficient funds to install a fully-inclusive playground in California Park, which is utilized by the California Community Center and Wheatley Elementary School. With the installation of this major project, the organization became public-facing for the first time in its history.
As the proceeds from JOLS grew, the Foundation grew too. The board added members, developed new Mission and Vision Statements, updated the by-laws, created a new logo, and made the decision to "do business as" the Louisville Parks Foundation (LPF). In 2017, the Foundation installed the final two playgrounds from the initial plan, one in Lannan Park, and one in Russell Lee Park.
By Fall 2017, it became clear the Foundation needed full-time leadership. A President/CEO was hired in November 2017. The initial project for 2018 was to develop a Strategic Plan to create a clear path to even greater success and increase the impact LPF can have on the community.
The Strategic Plan prioritized Projects Through Partnerships, and in 2018 and 2019 LPF completed several major park projects, including five artificial turf soccer fields in three South Louisville Parks, a nature play area in West Louisville, expansion of the Cochran Hill Dog Run, and a Skate Spot and shade structure at Breslin Park. During this time, the staff grew to three, and LPF added a new fundraiser, Winter Woods Spectacular.
The year 2020 brought on new challenges and new opportunities. As our community responds to the public health crises of racial injustice and COVID-19, the Louisville Parks Foundation believes parks and greenspaces must be considered vital civic infrastructure in long-term recovery efforts to foster a more resilient city. Yet, in low-income communities where their benefits are most needed, park amenities are often the most limited. To help Louisville thrive, we must invest equitably in parks and recreational facilities, and create public greenspaces that help all people heal and flourish.
Given our expanded focus, we decided it was time for our name, mission, and vision, to truly reflect the work we are doing. Therefore, in August 2021, we changed our name to the Parks Alliance of Louisville, with a mission to drive equitable investment in our public parks to elevate the wellbeing of the entire community.
Our Vision is Great Parks for All