Community parks at Houston ISD schools in Woodland Heights and Neartown are among the 20 parks slated for improvements as part of a new $10 million campaign that also involves building 20 new parks at Houston-area public schools.

What's happening

The $10 million campaign targets Spark parks in Houston, which are parks built at school campuses that are also accessible to the broader community. The new campaign, announced at a Sept. 20 press conference, comes as officials with the city of Houston celebrate the 40-year anniversary of the city's Spark School Park Program. Spark Parks can be found at more than 200 schools across 18 Houston-area public school districts.

The big picture

As part of the $10 million campaign, Spark officials will build 20 new school parks in four years at several school districts across the Greater Houston area. In addition to that, the campaign also involves improving—or "resparking"—20 existing Spark parks. Sixteen schools were initially identified, including eight schools that will get new Spark parks and eight schools that will have existing parks improved.

Existing Spark parks at Houston ISD's Travis Elementary School and Baker Monterssori School are among those targeted for improvements in the campaign. Schools that will get new parks include:
  • Rosa Parks Elementary School in Fort Bend ISD
  • Martin Elementary School in Alief ISD
  • Miller Intermediate School in Alief ISD
  • Beverly Hills Intermediate School in Pasadena ISD
  • Askew Elementary School in Houston ISD
  • Pearl Hall Elementary School in Pasadena ISD
  • Holmsley Elementary School in Cy-Fair ISD
  • Wilchester Elementary School in Spring Branch ISD
Spark parks that will be "resparked" include:
  • Mading Elementary School in Houston ISD
  • Edison Middle School in Houston ISD
  • Port Houston Elementary School in Houston ISD
  • Baker Montessori School in Houston ISD
  • Cornelius Elementary School in Houston ISD
  • Hollibrook Elementary School in Spring Branch ISD
  • Travis Elementary School in Houston ISD
  • Rodriguez Elementary School in Houston ISD
The details

The $10 million in funding was supported in part by the Kinder Foundation and the Houston Endowment, each of which contributed $3.5 million. The Brown Foundation provided another $1 million. Officials hope to raise the remaining $2 million in estimated costs through public fundraising.

Each Spark park is designed based on feedback from local community groups and parent/teacher groups at the chosen schools. A typical park consists of modular playground equipment, a walking trail, benches, picnic tables, trees, an outdoor classroom and public art, according to a Sept. 20 news release.

Quote of note

“Spark is indebted to private donors and the city of Houston for generously supporting our continued efforts to positively impact Houston’s green infrastructure by transforming school playgrounds into community parks,” said Kathleen Ownby, executive director of Spark School Park Program, in a Sept. 20 statement. “It’s more important than ever that families, children and other community members have access to parks and green spaces close to home for their physical and mental well-being.”

What's next

Details were not immediately released on which parks will be tackled first, but several of the initial 16 projects are expected to be be dedicated during Spark Week on Nov. 13-17, according to the release.