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Equitable Access for All

Chiumento, Alyssa

The Aurora/Saint Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation (ASANDC) is a nonprofit organization that operates various economic development, social, and housing programs for the Aurora/Saint Anthony, Frogtown, and Summit-University neighborhoods in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Guided by its mission to enhance the economic and social well-being of the communities it serves, ASANDC focuses much of its resources on youth programming. While working first hand with youth in the community, ASANDC saw that many were unable to access the City of Saint Paul’s Recreation Centers because the fees charged were unaffordable to them.
The purpose of this report is to research ways to increase access for youth – and, indeed, for all residents – by reducing the financial barriers to these recreation centers. The report first presents resident demographic information in order to provide more detailed context for solutions that attempt to increase access. The economic conditions in the area may significantly impact access for residents. For example, there are substantial numbers of residents living below the poverty designation: approximately one third of all residents and a staggering 43% of youth live in poverty. High rates of residents receiving SNAP and TANF benefits and spending more than 30% of their monthly income on rent also may be contributing factors that influence access.
Additionally, Parks and Recreation Department plans and budget documents from the City of Saint Paul were analyzed to further establish context and to identify current trends in the City’s approach to the construction, operation, and maintenance of recreation centers and its financial viability to maintain such an approach. In order to more fully understand Saint Paul’s approach to financing the operations and maintenance of its recreation centers, the approaches of parks and recreation departments from other cities across the country were also studied and examined for best practices. An academic literature review examining the establishment of fee systems for recreation centers and their impacts on equitable access was also conducted. Finally, by incorporating the information referenced above, recommendations for creating more equitable access to Saint Paul’s recreation centers were made. They include the implementation of more stringent record keeping, adoption of a cost of service and recovery model, and the establishment of a nonprofit foundation.

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Conducted on behalf of Aurora/Saint Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation. Supported by the Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program, a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota.
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