NRPA and American Water Charitable Foundation Award $500,000 for Water-Inspired Play Areas

CAMDEN, N.J.--()--The American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) and National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) are excited to announce the recipients of their 2019 Building Better Communities grant program:

  • Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District in Huntington, West Virginia
  • City of Alton Parks and Recreation in Alton, Illinois.

The grants, which total $500,000 will be used to create community-focused, water-inspired play areas.

“We are pleased to partner with Alton and Huntington to provide these outdoor spaces so children and families can learn, interact and appreciate water, a critical natural resource, in a fun and engaging way,” said Carrie Williams, president, American Water Charitable Foundation. “American Water is committed to being a good neighbor and a good steward of the environment and ensuring that every community we serve is stronger because we are there.”

Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District will use its $250,000 grant to create the St. Cloud All-Inclusive Splashpad, which will provide an accessible water experience at a local park to families of all abilities. It will be specially designed to accommodate those with mobility issues and other disabilities, creating equal access to water play. To ensure those in their local community are learning to be future water stewards, educational programing on water quality and environmental conservation will be held at the park. Environmentally friendly design elements, including bioswales and permeable surfacing, will be incorporated into the project.

City of Alton Parks and Recreation will use its $250,000 grant to create the first-ever water play experience for its community. The city sits on the Mississippi river, but due to flood walls, it does not have access to the river and does not have a public pool or splash pad. The city of Alton will create a splash pad that overlooks the river to allow its residents to enjoy water in a natural setting. This will also provide the opportunity to educate the community on water stewardship. The project will overlook the local Melvin Price Locks and Dams and educate the public about the importance of the Mississippi River and how it impacts the community.

“Ensuring children and families can experience water and have access to water-based education and nature play spaces is key to building the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Karl Schrass, NRPA director of conservation. “We are proud to support this important work through our partnership with the American Water Charitable Foundation and encourage communities everywhere to explore the wonders of nature through their local parks and recreation.”

The Building Better Communities initiative, now in its sixth year, helps communities create or enhance public park spaces or programs that encourage the community to engage in water and nature-inspired play, connect to the natural world and focus on environmental education and water-based recreation. The grants help communities engage children and families in areas surrounding the chosen parks.

Since 2014, the Foundation has awarded 14 NRPA grants to American Water (NYSE: AWK) communities in California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. These investments, which total nearly $2 million, make a profound impact on communities – especially in areas like Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where residents, once again have a safe space to gather with family and friends. Not long ago, the swimming pool at Palmer Park, a fixture in the community, was surrounded by a chain-linked fence and barbed wire. But, thanks to the investment of the Foundation and NRPA, the area now features a unique nature and water play area that provides opportunities for children (and adults) to experience the outdoors in a fun, interactive environment. Additional information about this investment and the broader Palmer Park renovation is available here.

For more information about the Building Better Communities grant program, visit

About American Water

With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 7,100 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to more than 14 million people in 46 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit and follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About the American Water Charitable Foundation

Established in 2010 with a founding contribution from American Water, the American Water Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides a formal way to demonstrate the company’s ongoing commitment to being a good neighbor, citizen, and contributor to the communities where American Water and its employees live, work and operate. The Foundation helps support American Water employee-identified nonprofit endeavors. More information can be found online at

About the National Recreation and Park Association

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

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Joseph Szafran
External Affairs Manager


Joseph Szafran
External Affairs Manager