Projects and Programs

Supporting Healthy Parks

Join us in supporting Metro Parks Tacoma's vision of providing safe, vibrant spaces for our community to gather, learn, and grow. GMPF has identified the areas in which your donation of time or money will be most beneficial. From arts programs to outdoor education to adaptive recreation, we believe that healthy parks foster healthy people.

Metro Parks Tacoma Resource Development and the Greater Metro Parks Foundation work collaboratively to meet the funding needs of Metro Parks Tacoma.  Together, we raise funds for the following projects and programs:


Harvest Pierce County

Harvest Pierce County supports the more than 70 community gardens throughout Pierce County, including nine on Metro Parks property in Tacoma. It supports a diversity of other community food projects focused on connecting citizens to their food supply, their environment, and their community. 

Your support will allow community members to come together to support projects in Tacoma that increase access to local healthy food as well as beautiful community spaces. GMPF supports those community gardens on Metro Parks property inside the City of Tacoma. 

For a list of community gardens please contact us at (253) 305-1066 or


GMPF Core Support

Your donations make it possible for GMPF to partner with Metro Parks Tacoma in building and sustaining a healthier, vibrant community through greater parks.

Core Support funds the Greater Metro Parks Foundation as a whole: it is your opportunity to join with us, invest in our Mission: Inviting you to build a healthier, more vibrant community by investing in people and parks.

The Foundation works closely with Metro Parks to identify the programs and projects where funding will make the greatest impact. Your donation to GMPF and trust in our stewardship of your funds is deeply appreciated. Together, we're making a difference in the lives of thousands of members of our community.

Your generous donations make it possible for the Greater Metro Parks Foundation to partner with Metro Parks Tacoma in creating healthy opportunities to play, learn and grow. 


Jack C. Wilson Active Kids Fund

Your gift of $125 helps a family of five participate in Metro Parks Tacoma classes and programs for one year!

Tacoma activities across nearly 3,000 acres of parks and facilities, building skills and keeping active on sports teams, exercising creative expression in art classes, and exploring the natural world at our nature center and botanical conservatory. The Greater Metro Parks Foundation helps overcome financial barriers to healthy recreation participation through ensuring that scholarships are available to Tacoma families in need. These scholarships reduce Metro Parks’ program registration fees by 50-75%. GMPF’s Active Kids Fund ensures that children in hundreds of Tacoma families can play, learn, and grow through valuable Metro Parks programs.

Families who struggle to pay for activities such as sports leagues, swimming classes, nature education, and art instruction miss out on opportunities to interact with peers and positive role models in safe environments that emphasize teamwork, experiential play, and creative expression.

Each year, MPT receives more requests for scholarship assistance. A majority of Tacoma families struggle with poverty, making it challenging for low-income children to participate in recreation programs. Overall, 63.5% of Tacoma students are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunch, a common measure of student poverty. This high percentage significantly exceeds the overall Washington State percentage of 45%.  


Adaptive Recreation

Your donation of $200 helps teams and players from our adaptive recreation program travel to games and competitions. Go Titans!

Metro Parks Tacoma Adaptive Sports delivers weekly sports programs, clinics and trainings, competitive opportunities, and special events for veterans and active military service members with physical disabilities, along with friends, family, and community members. Adaptive sports provide a critical venue to rebuild esteem, health, and confidence while integrating participants into the community.

Adaptive Sports brings skill-building training, recreation, and community opportunities to our veterans and soldiers based on their needs and interests. Activities include: Wheelchair Basketball, Archery, Swimming, Rugby, Kayaking, and Cycling.

The South Sound is home to a large military population and Pierce County is a vital hub West Coast of support for veterans and warriors in transition where local government agencies, medical facilities, service and community organizations, and the armed forces collaborate to provide care and opportunities.



Your donation of $50 helps CHIP In! volunteers and staff restore 10-square feet of green space!Citizens Helping Improve Parks (CHIP In!) is the comprehensive volunteer program for the Metropolitan Park District (MPT) of Tacoma, WA. Each year, more than 3,000 individuals volunteer more than 57,000 hours to help improve Tacoma’s parks and greenspaces. Five distinct programs comprise CHIP in!:

  1. Garden Societies
    At Point Defiance Park, the city’s largest and most active park, there are seven species-themed display gardens that each have volunteer societies who select and care for plants on display.
  2. Habitat Stewards
    In parks with natural areas, Habitat Stewards’ main concern is habitat restoration. Volunteers conduct a number of activities in order to achieve this: invasive species removal, trail maintenance, planting, litter pick up, and watering.
  3. Active Parks
    In active parks, volunteers work to keep parks clean, green, and safe. Volunteers at these parks conduct a number of activities such as weeding, litter pick-up, planting flowers, spreading mulch, and painting picnic tables.
  4. Park Patrol Neighborhood Watch
    Citizens volunteering for Park Patrol/Neighborhood Watch are trained by the Tacoma Police Department and Safe Streets. Volunteers wear safety vests and carry flashlights, and are trained to report any suspicious activity to the police department. These volunteers also act as educators to park visitors, who may not know about the park’s smoke-free policy, leashed dog policy, or other matters of park etiquette.
  5. Parks Appreciation Day and other service days
    Parks appreciation day, Trails Appreciation Day, Green Tacoma Day, and Community Day of Service all take place annually. These special volunteer opportunities draw individuals who wish to volunteer for one day, rather than on a regular basis.

In total, Metro Parks Tacoma has 35 groups of volunteers working in the district’s 3,000 acres of 65 parks and greenspaces. Your support of CHIP In! ensures that these dedicated volunteers have the tools and materials necessary to keep Tacoma parks beautiful.


Environmental Restoration & Sustainability

Metro Parks Tacoma is invested in continuing significant environmental improvements to more than 700 identified acres of parks and green space. Your donation will help us ensure this work can happen.

The district's goals are to fully restore the threatened park lands, monitor, and maintain them. Already, 23 projects have been initiated, improving nearly 40 acres of natural ecosystem functions. The 20 year project will only be possible with continued volunteer recruitment and opportunities, education and outreach, and the tough, on-the-ground work of invasive species removal, and native plant reintroduction to strengthen habitat.


Metro Arts

Metro Arts serves thousands of individuals each year through a range of fee-based and free activities focused on visual and performing arts. The mission of Metro Arts is to provide a wide array of arts activities in Tacoma —both hands-on and experiential—that is accessible to all. The Metro Arts vision is an engaged community that appreciates and understands Tacoma's cultural arts and assets and who embraces the role of the arts in an active lifestyle.

The Metro Arts program provides recreational opportunities for citizens to actively participate in an array of cultural arts pursuits through classes, camps, events, community gallery spaces and other activities. Metro Arts is built on creating lifestyles for active living and wellness, showcasing cultural awareness through diverse programming, and providing a safe vehicle for fun through creative expression. Programs are primarily entry-level to intermediate-level and are designed to give the participant an opportunity to explore, learn, and/or participate in a wide range of arts that includes dance, theatre, music, visual art, and specialty culinary art.

Metro Arts’ free activities comprise our Arts Outreach program, and especially target underserved areas of the city. These outreach activities include in-depth neighborhood collaborative arts projects, arts activities, and performances at free community events, art exhibits, and creative activities and projects at community centers. Many of the activities bring groups of children and families together to learn about a particular culture through their collaborative arts project.


Nature Education Programs

Your contribution of $50 makes it possible for 100 people to enjoy nature walks and events.Nature Education programs take place year-round throughout the park district.  These programs are varied to appeal to adults, children, and families.  Examples of Metro Parks’ Nature Education programs include:

  • Local elementary and middle school students learn through experiments, activities, and inquiry-based learning in our parks through partnerships with Tacoma Public Schools and others.
  • Adventure Quests featuring riddles, puzzles, and navigation challenges
  • Family Nature Walks at Point Defiance, Swan Creek Park, and The Tacoma Nature Center
  • Nature Summer Camps throughout the district for adults and children
  • Nature in Nurture Preschool which introduces our youngest future environmental stewards to the natural world
  • Campfire Programs under the moonlight
  • Kayaking trips for youth and adults
  • Programs for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts

Your support of Nature Education programs at Metro Parks Tacoma helps us reach more diverse and underserved populations, so that all members of our community have the opportunity to participate in these valuable programs that teach us to appreciate and steward the natural environment.


Specialized Recreation

With your gift of $100, five people with disabilities can enjoy one of their favorite weekly activities.In 1954, Metro Parks founded Specialized Recreation to provide activities and sports opportunities for adults and youth with cognitive disabilities. Metro Parks Tacoma was one of the first local entities to work actively to address and change stigmas for people with disabilities.

For more than 60 years, Specialized Recreation has offered high-quality programs for Tacoma/Pierce County residents of all ages with disabilities. Available regularly, these essential enrichment, wellness, and community opportunities provide a safe place for participants to develop lifelong relationships, self-determination, and a sense of belonging.

The complexity of Washington State’s developmental disability support delivery system can make it difficult for many individuals with developmental disabilities and their caregivers to identify and obtain all needed services and supports. Services are often fragmented across agencies, and navigation is complicated and frustrating. Beyond the difficulties of securing basic need and health support, quality of life is a challenge. In this problematic landscape, Specialized Recreation strives to provide a haven: a safe, fun, welcoming place of opportunity and community for those with developmental disabilities.

The program serves approximately 500 individuals each year. Caregivers register participants, who, in most cases, pay a modest fee to participate. (Because many Specialized Recreation participants do not have discretionary income and cannot afford registration fees, Metro Parks works with the Greater Metro Parks Foundation to provide scholarship funds to offset registration costs, helping more individuals to participate regardless of income.) Due to the necessarily high staff-to-participant ratios, demand regularly exceeds availability, and nearly half of all programs have waiting lists.


Youth Development and Services

Your gift of $50 makes it possible for seven Tacoma children to enjoy active, creative programs including meals and snacks.

After School Clubs and Activities
The Middle School Youth Development Program is a Metro Parks Tacoma (MPT) after school program that provides activities and clubs at select Tacoma middle schools. This program targets middle-school aged youth to engage the at-risk population with positive role models and appealing activities and events. The program is defined by elements critical to promoting participation among middle schoolers, like choice and autonomy, paying special attention to engage those who need it most.

Free drop-in after school clubs take place on-site immediately after school (2:45-4:30) until the activity bus arrives, Monday-Thursday. Consistent attendance is encouraged, but not required. Participating youth receive a free snack during program to promote and encourage consistent healthy eating. There are five program rotations during the school year that last approximately 6-weeks in length. Youth voices are paramount in identifying the clubs as the intent is to attract every interested student. This past fall, some of the club choices were: Cheer, Robotics, Drama, Random Acts of Kindness, Hip-hop dance, Drawing, Cooking, Strength & Training, Outdoor Adventures, Homework help and Sports Camp.

Late-Night, Lock-In and Evening Programs
Metro Parks Late Night programs are designated to provide a positive environment for youth on nights when youth are at high-risk to participate in harmful or illegal activities. Late Night programs provide an environment where youth can feel physically and emotionally safe, and engage in activities that promote healthy lifestyles. Evening and Late Night programs are typically offered for three hours on alternating Fridays and consist of positive messages, sports, crafts, games and activities and a free, nutritious meal.

Leadership Corps
The Leadership Corps program is offered most intensively during the summer months, and meets at least monthly throughout the school year, giving older youth a chance to learn about volunteer and career opportunities via the recreation and parks industry and connect them with their community, in an effort to encourage and inspire youth about their futures.  

New Experiences Field trips
Primarily nature-focused, field trips may be offered during school holidays or non-school days, providing youth the opportunity to build confidence and experience learning off-site. Last January, a winter field trip gave youth the chance to go sledding/tubing in the mountains; 97% of the youth on the trip said they had never been before to any mountain to play in the snow.


Youth Sports

Your donation of $50 helps supply a sports team with high-quality equipment.

More than 5,000 local children, ages 4-18 are enrolled in Metro Parks Tacoma’s Youth Sports Program. Youth enjoy year-round recreational league play in five different sports—basketball, baseball, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, and football—as well as sports instruction in multiple-week sessions and through summer camps.

Participation with MPT Youth Sports combats obesity and encourages healthy living by increasing physical activity. While the health benefits of sports participation are widely acknowledged, children experience many other benefits.

Children involved with Youth Sports not only gain skills and learn to play sports, but also build character and team-building abilities. These traits help children develop a sense of self-determination, discipline, sportsmanship, confidence, and belonging in a fun, safe environment. These skills translate to youths’ other activities and commitments in school and at home.

The Youth Sports Program is an ideal and trusted forum to teach and model fundamental ethics that help young people become well-balanced adults who can lead productive lives in our community.