Can the Tony Hawk Foundation build a skatepark in my town?

Skateparks take a lot of resources and planning before they can be built. The Tony Hawk Foundation can’t come to your town and build you a skatepark, but we can help you get things moving and provide guidance and possibly some funding along the way. As a local, you’ll be expected to prepare your town for the skatepark by organizing an advocacy group, promoting the need for a skatepark to fellow citizens, getting approvals from local leaders, and giving local skaters a voice in the process. We can help you do those things, but you need to understand that you’ll be doing the local work.

What are some of the community benefits of skateparks?

There are too many benefits of skateparks to list in one place. There are the social benefits of providing a facility for young people, and particularly at-risk youth, to pursue an athletic activity that they love. There are public health benefits in having a safe place for young people to develop active lifestyles away from the risks found in the streets.

What kinds of behavior can we expect at the skatepark?

Skateboarding contests can be fun and instrumental in bringing a community of skaters together. Often, skaters will travel hundreds of miles to attend and compete in a contest if the event shows promise of a good time or good exposure for talented skaters hoping to find a sponsor.

For more information on contest formats, it might be worth your while to contact a couple of contest organizations to ask about their judging criteria:

United Skateboarding Association (amateur contest group)

World Cup Skateboarding (pro contest group)

Damn Am (amateur contest group)

Demonstrations are exhibitions performed by skilled skateboarders. “Demos” are a great way to show the general public what’s possible on a skateboard and can serve to illuminate the athleticism and skill possible in skateboarding. Demos are especially helpful during the skatepark planning stages because they help showcase positive skateboarding qualities.

Jams are local, informal skate contests. Jams are often casually judged by fellow participants. A local shop may provide a small number of prizes and skaters will often bring food and music to the skatepark. Jams are often like a picnic or BBQ with skateboarding.

Any event you plan should always be done with the explicit permission and cooperation of your city or Parks Department.

How do we set up a skate contests, demonstrations, and jams?

Skateboarding contests can be fun and instrumental in bringing a community of skaters together. Often, skaters will travel hundreds of miles to attend and compete in a contest if the event shows promise of a good time or good exposure for talented skaters hoping to find a sponsor.

 

For more information on contest formats, it might be worth your while to contact a couple of contest organizations to ask about their judging criteria:

 

United Skateboarding Association (amateur contest group)

World Cup Skateboarding (pro contest group)

Damn Am (amateur contest group)

 

Demonstrations are exhibitions performed by skilled skateboarders. “Demos” are a great way to show the general public what’s possible on a skateboard and can serve to illuminate the athleticism and skill possible in skateboarding. Demos are especially helpful during the skatepark planning stages because they help showcase positive skateboarding qualities.

 

Jams are local, informal skate contests. Jams are often casually judged by fellow participants. A local shop may provide a small number of prizes and skaters will often bring food and music to the skatepark. Jams are often like a picnic or BBQ with skateboarding.

 

Any event you plan should always be done with the explicit permission and cooperation of your city or Parks Department.

How can I get sponsored?

Tony Hawk Foundation does not have a team or offer sponsorships. Most people pursuing a career in skateboarding start by contacting their local independently-owned skate shops or local board manufacturer. Some skaters are sponsored by non-skateboarding companies like local restaurants or retail stores. Sponsored skaters are expected to earn their sponsorship by being active in the local skate scene, publishing videos, and participating in competitions.

There are many kinds of sponsorship. Your first sponsor will probably be a local shop providing a regular number of boards, bearings, and wheels. (This is called being “on flow”). At higher levels of sponsorship, skaters may earn money from their sponsors.

Can we get Tony Hawk to attend or donate to our event?

Tony Hawk Foundation does not provide assistance to non-skatepark events. While we recognize the important work of other charitable nonprofit organizations, THF must be selective about where it devotes its limited resources.

 

While Tony Hawk often visits public skateparks and charitable events, his appearance is generally the result of his availability and proximity. He receives many more invitations than would be possible for any one person to attend.

 

To contact Tony Hawk, Inc. regarding to a professional appearance or interview, please write to information@tonyhawk.com.

Where has Tony Hawk Foundation built skateparks?

The Tony Hawk Foundation has helped fund skateparks in all 50 states. New skateparks are funded every year. To-date, more than 500 skatepark grants have been awarded. Approximately a quarter of those projects are still in development with the remaining 75% of those projects open today.

 

Click here to see a map of all THF grant recipients.

How do we begin our new skatepark project?

There are lots of things you can do today to begin your skatepark. It will require lots of effort, but every skatepark that exists today has a person behind it that was willing to accept the challenge.

The first thing you’ll need to do is to talk about the idea with your friends and family. Everyone will have ideas about where to begin, and you’ll pick up some valuable advice.

One of your first official acts will be to attend your local City Council meeting, (or Parks Board meeting), and bring up the idea of a new skatepark. Though it’s likely that you will hear several reasons why a skatepark is impractical, stay focused on asking those questions that will reveal how those obstacles can be overcome. For example, if the City responds to the idea by stating that there’s no money for a skatepark right now, you might ask if there’s a way that the money could be raised by the skateboarding community with the City’s assistance.

In partnership with the International Association of Skateboard Companies and Skaters for Public Skateparks, the Tony Hawk Foundation has published the Public Skatepark Development Guide. This advocacy tool has been helping advocates navigate the skatepark-development process, and has been expanded as an interactive Web resource. Many skatepark groups credit the PSDG as their single most-important source of guidance and data.

Find the Skatepark Development Guide online at http://www.publicksateparkguide.org.

You can also contact us directly. Just send an e-mail to contact@tonyhawkfoundation.org and ask for some advice on getting started. We’d be happy to help you out.

What do we do when we’ve asked for a skatepark and the city says no or that they can’t afford it?

Budgets are tight everywhere and it is common to hear reasons why a new skatepark isn’t possible. This doesn’t mean the skatepark won’t happen. It just means that there’s still more work to do. We can help you come up with ideas that address the challenges your skatepark project is facing.

Skateparks are the result of diverse partnerships between government and community groups. You will need to earn strong public support for the skatepark. This support will attract local businesses. Eventually the skatepark will show signs of widespread popular support, and your local government will then find ways to work with your group to see the project through to completion.

We’ve been asking for a skatepark and nothing happens. What should we do differently?

Turn your attention away from local government and focus on building public support through events and partnerships with other community organizations. Rallying the public in support of the new park will present a popular project to your city government. When you reach out to your neighbors and people you meet on the street, consider having a small flyer with specific instructions to contact your city council, the link to your online petition, or towards whatever method you’re using to demonstrate support. It can also be useful to identify a supportive individual within city government that can help you identify key individuals and opportunities.

How do we create a nonprofit organization (and do we need to)?

If you are pursuing a single skatepark and have no intention to engage in fundraising after the park is open (skate classes or maintenance, for example), then there is little reason to launch an independent nonprofit organization. Instead, establish a partnership with another local nonprofit that can provide nonprofit status to your effort. You will essentially be fundraising on behalf of this organization, and they will be acting as your group’s “fiscal sponsor.” This is a common practice in skatepark projects.

How and where should we look for funding for our new skatepark?

We recommend a tiered fundraising strategy. At the beginning of your fundraising effort you should be focusing on the lower tiers. As you build support, awareness, and notoriety, you will expand your fundraising efforts to include the higher tiers. Skatepark fundraising often takes several years. It starts slow, with small donations trickling in, and by the time the goal is met, the project is often receiving substantial donations.

 

Tier 1: In-kind Donations

In-kind donations are a good way to kick-off your fundraising drive. Donations of this type can be leveraged into larger cash contributions.

Examples: Local restaurants (pizzas, complimentary dinners), local retail (coupons, product), venues (movie and event tickets, backstage passes, “meet and greets”).

 

Tier 2: Grassroots

Nearly all skateparks are paid for with some amount of amount of grassroots funds. Grassroots fundraising events have an additional benefit of spreading the word about the skatepark throughout your community.

 

Examples: Coin collection jars, car washes, t-shirt sales, online donations, door-to-door canvassing.

 

Tier 3: Service Organizations

In your town there are groups and organizations with missions to improve the community. These may be focused on public health, economic development, neighborhood improvement, green space, historical preservation, or intervention for at-risk youth. Some of these groups’ missions will fit nicely with the goals of the skatepark.

 

Tiers 4, 5, and 6: Businesses, Parks Departments, National Nonprofit, and Governmental Funds

These are sources of your largest cash contributions. In order to qualify and earn money from these groups you will have to demonstrate a terrific, organized project that has sustained support from the community. Groups do not generally pursue donations from these larger sources until they have a history of working closely with a diverse association of governmental and private agencies.

Can the skatepark pay for its maintenance by having a small skate shop nearby?

Concrete skatepark maintenance is very low. Most Parks Departments do not consider their skateparks to be a significant maintenance concern. Agencies preparing for ongoing skatepark maintenance expenses have usually not investigated the demands closely. Given their popularity, skateparks represent some of the greatest return on investment among the most popular recreational and athletic attractions.

There is little need to have concessions on or near the skatepark. In cases where a small skate shop is developed to support the skatepark, the additional expense of running a shop exceeds any benefit bestowed by its presence. For that reason, we do not recommend pursuing this complex arrangement. A concrete skatepark should be just fine without any additional burdens.

What’s better: Concrete or Modular skateparks?

Concrete is by far the better solution for skatepark construction. The benefits of concrete eclipse those of wood or steel ramp-style parks in every way.

Design: Concrete skateparks, particularly custom designs (as opposed to precast concrete), deliver a unique facility that your skateboarding community can be proud of. These skateparks reflect the unique qualities of your community.

Cost: While the initial design and construction expenses of cast-in-place concrete are higher than prefabricated ramps, over the life of the facility the cost is quickly recouped in durability. With more than two decades of experience to draw from, prefabricated skateboarding ramps have consistently demonstrated a pattern of structural failure. The maintenance costs of these structures grows cumulatively larger until the ramps themselves are retired. Communities across the nation are looking today to replace their wood and steel skateparks with concrete.

Appeal: Skateboarders prefer concrete. The appeal of the new concrete skatepark will incubate pride in the facility.

There are no instances where prefabricated wood or steel ramps are the best solution for a heavily-trafficked outdoor public skatepark.

What kind of legal risk does a skatepark bring and will we need additional insurance?

There are approximately 4,000 skateparks in the United States and yet lawsuits against the managing agencies are virtually unheard of. Liability law varies from state to state, so there is no simple answer. The best way to assess potential risk is to consult with other communities in your state with skateparks.

 

Most states consider skateboarding a “hazardous recreational activity.” While this may sound bad, it is actually good for skateparks. Because the state recognizes the activity as inherently hazardous, it has no responsibility if and when skateboarders injure themselves (as long as appropriate signage at the skatepark entrance includes al the legal fine print required by law). Bicycling is generally considered in the same way. By skateboarding, or riding a bike, you accept the inherent risks of the activity, and therefore have no legal grounds to hold anyone else liable for your well-being.

 

In most areas of the nation, skateparks operate for decades without any legal risks by simply posting a sign that reads “skate at your own risk.”

 

Most municipal skateparks will fall under the city’s umbrella insurance coverage, especially considering that skateboarding is responsible for fewer injuries than other common sports. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s annual electronic survey of hospital emergency-room visits reveals that softball, soccer, and basketball, among other popular sports, are responsible for more injuries per 1,000 participants than skateboarding. Still, many cities prefer to insure their skateparks with a separate policy. While many common insurance carriers have not written policies for skateparks, a few have. Their experience covering skateparks helps them quote policies that can be significantly less expensive than competing firms. We would suggest checking with your city’s existing insurer about adding the skatepark, if it’s necessary to insure it separately at all.

 

Otherwise, the following are some of the carriers we know of that have written policies for skateparks:

 

Katherine Wong, Francis L. Dean & Associates

(626) 379-6280

EntertainmentIns@gmail.com

 

City Securities Corporation

(317) 634-4400

citysecurities.com

 

Gold Coast Specialty Insurance Agency, Inc.

(239) 549-0054

specialeventsins.com

 

Note that some insurance carriers will have substantial skatepark policy requirements that may be difficult or viewed as excessive or unreasonable to the average skatepark visitor. Noncompliance can void any insurance claim, should one arise, and present a bad situation for the City that did not adequately enforce the policy. Review the insurance requirements carefully before making a decision.

Are kids at skateparks exposed to drug use and other negative influences like foul language?

Skaters need to be focused and alert, particularly in a skatepark setting, to maintain their balance and to perform the maneuvers they do. Skateboarding, by its very nature, is an anti-drug. Generally, a skatepark full of kids who are there to skate is a skatepark full of kids not getting stoned.

At skateparks, older skaters tend to look after younger skaters. They offer tips, help them out of bowls when they fall, and will rise to the occasion when they have the opportunity to set a positive example or mentor a younger skater.

A skatepark is a place where skaters get together and enjoy the space, the camaraderie, and the physical thrill of riding. An outdoor, open, highly visible location--as most skateparks are--is not the place to bully kids, use drugs, or be a nuisance. Skaters are there for a reason, and are generally very good at policing each other about behavior that interferes with their enjoying the park.

Skateparks where the skaters have trouble with non-skating drug users and delinquents showing up are typically located in secluded areas, where casual supervision is infrequent or doesn’t exist. It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s one that the skaters suffer from, rather than create themselves. It is important that the skatepark is positioned somewhere in the community where there is ample pedestrian traffic. This prevents people from preying on the captive skatepark audience.

A well-built and properly sited skatepark that reflects the needs of the local skaters is a hive of creative, physical activity, a place where kids and adults who enjoy skateboarding come together and are focused on their sport in an inherently positive environment.

How do we decide where to build our skatepark?

Skatepark locations can often become the single-most controversial decisions regarding the new skatepark. Typically that controversy comes from neighbors adjacent to the proposed location. The resistance stems from fears--many unfounded--about skateparks and the people they are designed to attract. For what it’s worth, most of the common reasons against skateparks are based on a complete misunderstanding about skateparks and skaters, and come from people who have no prior experience dealing with skaters, skateparks, or even park development.

Here are a few guidelines to consider when determining where to locate your skatepark:

Most skaters don’t drive, so a skatepark should be in a central location near residential areas (though preferably not directly adjacent to homes) and easily accessible by public transportation.

Skateparks should be located near the street rather than tucked away in the back of a larger park area. Hidden locations attract elements other than skateboarders, and can lead to problems the skaters don’t create, but may be blamed for.

Skateparks should be located where the general public is likely to walk by. This helps curb inappropriate behavior but also allows the community to see and understand the healthy activity and positive environment. This positive experience will result in future skateparks being much easier to make a case for. By hiding the skatepark where the community isn’t likely to interact with it, the stereotypes and negative preconceptions about skateboarders will likely persist.

Existing public park areas are ideal locations to add a skatepark. Many necessities will already be in place: parking facilities, restrooms, and in some cases lighting. This can save money and allow funds set aside for the skatepark to be used for the actual skatepark, and not amenities.

Skateparks can easily replace underutilized grass areas or ball fields. Many basketball or tennis courts can also be repurposed for skateboarding. Most cities already provide multiple facilities for traditional ball sports, so if undeveloped locations aren’t available, repurposing is often the best solution.

Sometimes community groups, like the Rotary Club, have property they are willing to donate for community facilities like skateparks. If an appropriate city property is unavailable, approaching local community groups and community-minded business organizations is often the best alternative.

If the Parks Department is intending to refurbish an existing park space, it’s an excellent opportunity to provide solutions for the skateboarders’ needs. The park will already have construction occurring there so adding a skatepark can be less expensive than usual due to mobilization costs. Stay alert to public meetings regarding master park plans. It’s important to get to these meetings, particularly in the earliest stages, and attend each one dedicated to design to ensure that the skaters’ needs are recognized.

Some people associate skateboarding with gangs and crime, when the opposite is generally the truth. Skateboarders are, by and large, dedicated and passionate about what they do and have little interest in joining gangs.

Some people also decry the noise associated with skateboarding. A concrete skatepark should be no louder than most athletic activities. When skateboards are rolling down a rough sidewalk they are clearly heard and it may seem incongruent with other things happening on the street. But at a skatepark, where the concrete is smooth, skateboards are relatively quiet and the sounds coming from a skatepark are similar to sounds one might hear at a ball field or playground.

The unfortunate reality is that these perceptions exist, and those individuals who voice them have a right to speak out. It’s human nature to fear things that we don’t understand. Once the park goes in, it’s always better to not have neighbors vigilantly suspicious, as they will be eager to complain and will resent the kids who use it. Invite resistant residents to your meetings to meet the kids who will be skating at the park. If they’re impressed, perhaps they’ll decide the need for the park is greater than their concern for noise.

Should the skatepark be supervised?

We understand that some administrators are wary of an unsupervised skatepark. They should realize that most of the other athletic facilities their city provides (soccer fields, baseball diamonds, tennis courts) are also unsupervised and that people are more likely to be injured using those facilities than they are riding in a skatepark.

The Tony Hawk Foundation recommends free, unsupervised skateparks that are administered like other athletic facilities. The expense of adding full-time employees can be a burden on a tight budget. Supervision is not likely to enhance a skater’s experience or reduce the likelihood of injury. Therefore the easy answer would be to open your park and let the skaters ride it at-will, without an on-site monitor.

Experience shows that broad community support for the skatepark is more effective in curbing unwanted behavior and achieving high policy compliance than any other factor. In most cases, this support develops during the process of approving the project and fundraising for the skatepark construction. Supervised skateparks can undermine progress made in natural stewardship by superseding that feeling of ownership with a “sanctioned” authority figure.

There are two sound approaches to exploring the option of supervision. One method is to open the park with supervision for one month to help manage the excited crowds that will be jockeying for access. After the initial intensity fades, remove the monitor and assess the results with random site visits. The second method—and the one that we recommend—is to open the park without supervision and allow natural leadership among the regular park users to help check unwanted activities at the park.

Park agencies should continue to meet with the principle advocates of the skatepark even after the ribbon cutting. This will provide the Parks Department with insight into the activities at the park and be the group that can best identify equitable solutions to common problems.

Your goal is to provide the skaters in your community with a safe central place to skate. Since you’ve overcome the hurdle of actually building the park, the specifics of how to operate it would seem to be a much easier problem to solve. Otherwise, the skaters will be back in the streets, where the number of injuries and liability for the city will be higher.

Can we use a general contractor to build our skatepark?

Possibly, but investigate their experience in skateparks first. Do not hire a builder who has not built at least a few quality skateparks, particularly if the skatepark design includes complex transitions and other unique features—these types of skateparks should always be built by firms that specialize in skatepark construction.

Often, after months or years of petitioning, fundraising, and designing a skatepark, the resulting plans are handed off to a general contractor who has never built a skatepark, but comes in at the end of the long process, misinterprets the plan or decides to cut corners, and builds something that skateboarders cannot use safely and are disappointed with.

Even well-intended contractors can completely underestimate the need for precise and exacting construction. To many people, including construction professionals, skateparks can look like creative, artistic, improvisational landscapes. In reality, functional skateparks are the result of an intimate understanding of how skateboarders get and use speed, how they turn, traffic flow, and the nuanced characteristics of the forms. Small errors and oversights in construction can easily make whole sections of a skatepark unusable or even dangerous. Again, it is imperative that your skatepark contractor possess experience building successful, quality skateparks.

To avoid the problem of unqualified general contractors bidding on skatepark projects, the Tony Hawk Foundation requires that cities that apply for THF grants hire experienced skatepark designers and builders.

What rules and policies should our skatepark have?

Skatepark rules can vary widely from park to park. Rules will be based on state and local laws, insurance requirements, and community interest. Some parks have lengthy rules governing everything from general behavior, (“Respect yourself and others”), to specific notices, (“Open from dawn until dusk”). Some skateparks simply read “skate at your own risk” and leave it at that, and many don’t post rules at all.

Typically, state and local ordinances governing the skatepark are required by law to be posted. This often results in large signs with tiny type filled with code numbers and legalese, and often are ignored, or just not understood. In places where such signage is required, it’s a good idea to post a shorter list of basic rules on a separate sign that’s more legible.

We recommend not using rules that are ungovernable or subjective. Rules like, “this is your skatepark, please keep it clean” result in other critical rules being dismissed as vague suggestions rather than specific requirements. A person who is prone to throwing their trash around is not likely to be swayed by a sign, and someone with a tendency to use the trash can will not need a sign to remind them to do so. Rules like this are superfluous and will be routinely dismissed by park visitors and undermine the importance of the other rules.

Helmet and pad requirements are at the heart of most skatepark rules conversations. Helmet compliance is difficult in regions where park policies are inconsistent. When parks near each other have different rules requiring helmets and/or pads, the rules can seem arbitrary to park visitors and treated as mere recommendations. Regional rules consistency is important in achieving high levels of compliance.

Enforcement must be equally consistent. Agency enforcement, be it park rangers, police, or employees, should ensure that they’re treating infractions consistently and across agency lines. Inconsistent enforcement sends a confusing message to skatepark patrons and will reduce compliance.

It is important that the scale of enforcement be appropriate for the infraction. Helmet and pad infractions are common in any skatepark but the method for improving compliance rates is not steep fines but rather a tiered approach. Multiple infractions by regular park visitors may be treated more severely than for first-time offenders or infrequent visitors. Skateboarding is statistically safer than many sports that do not require head or joint protection, so rules requiring helmets and pads are often perceived as beneficial to the Parks Department more than the actual skateboarder.

Severe and inconsistent enforcement will usually displace users that might otherwise want to use the skatepark. Skaters that feel abused by the authoritative treatment will simply return to skating in the streets where helmets are not required (or where helmet laws are unenforceable). If the risk of a ticket is the same inside the skatepark as it is on the streets, a disgruntled skater will simply skate wherever he or she likes and take their chances. When this is the case, the skatepark has failed to meet its primary goal of providing a safe place for youth to recreate.

Should skateparks require helmets?

The Tony Hawk Foundation enthusiastically encourages helmet use whenever a skateboard is used. However, while state, county, or city ordinance may require helmets, it does not translate well into skatepark policy.

 

Skateparks serve the public by providing a safe and attractive place to recreate away from cars and inappropriate places. When the skatepark becomes a source of legal risk to its patrons, those skaters that prefer not to wear helmets will simply return to the streets where they are not subject to the same degree of legal risk. The helmet policy therefore undermines the skatepark’s ability to attract skaters.

 

There are many ways to encourage helmet use. We would be happy to share those ideas with you. Please contact us at contact@tonyhawkfoundation.org for more information.

Does Tony Hawk Foundation support BMX in skateparks?

Yes. Any skatepark is likely to attract BMX riders. When policy prevents BMX riders from using the facility, it can lead to a culture of division and denial. It’s important that BMX riders are present or represented throughout the skatepark advocacy process. With BMX riders involved in the skatepark-advocacy process, their very presence redefines the skatepark as a facility for all youth, rather than catering to a special-interest group (the skaters). This makes the skatepark project politically more appealing.

Do you offer support for communities outside of the United States?

Yes. We are happy to assist any community in pursuit of a new public skatepark. Unfortunately, however, our construction grants are only available within the United States. THF’s support of international skateboarding programs are considered on a case-by-case basis, and unsolicited applications are not accepted.

Do you provide funding for other at-risk youth charities and events?

No. Given our limited resources and unprecedented demand for our services, we are unable to contribute to domestic projects that are not specifically skatepark-related, or international programs we have not thoroughly researched and initiated contact with.

Can we still apply even though we already have a skatepark?

Yes. We encourage you to apply. However, your chances of earning a grant are significantly reduced if your community is currently being served by a skatepark.

Your existing skatepark may be falling apart and beyond repair. In these situations, the existing skatepark will be demolished soon. It is not necessary to wait until the existing park is demolished before applying for a grant. We recognize that any period of time when the community is not served by a skatepark subjects youth to unacceptable risks.

In larger communities, the second skatepark may be located in an area that is not served by the first one. This is a case where the project would be eligible for a THF grant. In general, we consider a single skatepark to support about 25,000 residents.

Can we apply for a skatepark expansion, renovation, and/or site improvements?

You may apply, but your chances of winning an award are severely diminished. THF grants are not to be used for site furnishings, design services, landscaping, beautification, or other features. They are solely to be used for professional skatepark construction.

 

Expansions and phased developments can become complicated projects. Many of these projects are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us at contact@tonyhawkfoundation.org for more information.

When is the best time to apply for a THF grant?

THF grants are offered twice a year. Eligibility requirements can be found here.

 

Eligible projects are encouraged to apply for a THF grant only after they have the following:

• Conceptual design

• Proof of community support

• A portion of funds raised (ideally around 40% of the goal)

• Policies that are inclusive and in the spirit of community cohesion

How do we find out if we won a grant?

We will contact all grant applicants within two months of applying. Every legitimate applicant receives a full review of their application, with specific qualities that led to the decision to award or not award the project a grant.

Can we reapply if we were denied a grant previously?

Yes. In fact, we encourage it. You are welcome to contact us directly with any questions you may have about improving the appeal of your project to the THF Board of Directors.

You are not eligible for a THF grant if you previously received a grant from THF higher than $1,000.

Other than the Tony Hawk Foundation, what other sources of funding should I pursue?

Diversifying your appeal for donations is one of the primary ways to get a little from a lot of sources. Seek out as many potential donors and fundraising opportunities as possible. Here are some ideas, though they are by no means the only avenues to pursue.

Contrary to popular belief, the skateboard industry isn’t a good source for cash donations. However, skateboard companies may be willing to send items for raffles and fundraising events. As you might imagine, skate companies get many requests for help from local skatepark projects, and as much as they would like to help, they have limited resources. Prepare a letter that describes your skatepark project, your successes to date, and maybe include a diagram of the skatepark design when writing to skate companies. Like us, they like to see and support groups who are working hard and have a strong probability of achieving their goal. Look up companies and their addresses at the Skateboard Directory Web site.

Many states set aside Parks And Recreation funds every year that are granted to qualifying cities. These funds are often available only to projects that meet specific guidelines. It requires finding out what funds are available, and for what specific types of projects, but a call to your local state representatives’ offices should be a good place to start. A big issue across the country right now is child obesity. Many states have launched programs to promote healthy lifestyles and offer grants to community projects that address it. One great thing about skateparks is that they can meet the requirements for lots of different funding sources because they help communities in so many different ways.

It might be worth your while to hire a professional grant writer to help customize your story to fit the conditions of a specific grant. Professional grant writers often have expertise in identifying other potential sources of funds, including corporations and private foundations. It may seem extravagant or expensive to hire such a person, but often they only make a percentage of what they earn you.

The alternative is to seek out corporate and private grant opportunities yourself. A call to most major corporations can help you identify the person there in charge of corporate giving. Often, large companies set aside charitable dollars earmarked for youth causes. Find out who handles those funds and what their requirements are, and write your proposal to address the specific points they look for in a funding opportunity.

Do not presume that one carefully written “slam dunk” letter will be appropriate to all of your potential donors. You will typically want to draft a letter or application specifically for the donor you are contacting that is tailored to their interests and mission. For example, a letter describing how skateboarding is a great tool for fighting obesity may be true and important, but if the donor is interested in sustainable design, you’ve missed an opportunity to talk about the low carbon footprint of skateparks and skateboards as an alternative, “green” mode of transportation.

If you’ve been awarded grants from any source, celebrate those awards through your local press. Often local papers are willing to run an article on your success, whether it’s $5,000 from the Tony Hawk Foundation or the large company whose corporate headquarters is located in your town. Exposure in the local press often reveals other potential donors--local companies and philanthropists who learned about your project through a newspaper article.

There really are no limits to where you can find sources of funding. If your project includes baseball or soccer fields (or facilities for some other sport), there are funding sources that focus on those sports, too. Companies like Nike or sports organizations like the US Soccer Federation may have money earmarked for the non-skate aspect of your project. It takes more time and effort, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Do you provide grants for communities outside the United States?

Since 2002 the Tony Hawk Foundation has been helping communities in the United States develop public skateboard parks, and while the number of cities seeking help has grown, our resources to help them have not kept up. At this time we are unable to expand our skatepark grants beyond the U.S.

Communities outside of the United States are welcome to contact us seeking advice on any aspect of skatepark advocacy and development. Annually, we provide technical assistance to hundreds of international skatepark projects. THF also supports a few select skateboarding-based programs internationally, but considers such projects by invitation only.

May I submit pictures and video links in my application?

You may elaborate, but don’t go overboard. In fact, we encourage you to download the MS Word worksheet version of our application and then type your responses directly into the file so that you can “copy and paste” your edited answers into the actual online application. We also recommend including newspaper articles or other items that may indicate community support for the skatepark. We cannot accept digital media at this time, such as DVDs, but are happy to visit Web sites and other online sources.

Do we qualify for a grant if we intend to require pads and/or helmets?

The issue of safety in skateboarding is one that each community that opens a park deals with based on their own customs and tolerances. Those decisions are often based on state and local laws. In states like Colorado and Oregon, safety equipment is recommended or required, but many parks don’t seem to enforce the rule. In California, on the other hand, state and local laws generally require the use of safety equipment, and most California communities enforce those laws in varying degrees.

The Tony Hawk Foundation encourages safe skateboarding. Skaters themselves generally know their own limitations, and they know best what safety equipment they’ll need. While local laws don’t usually list wrist guards as required equipment, many skaters choose to wear them as a precaution.

We do not require THF grant recipients to adhere to any particular rules regarding pads, we encourage them to allow skaters maximum freedom and flexibility within the limitations of established local laws. Skating in the safety of a skatepark is inherently safer than skating in the street. The use of helmets is an added benefit that we strongly encourage, regardless of whether or not it is required by law.

What determines low-income?

We primarily use Median Household Income statistics from the latest completed U.S. Census study to determine the economic status of an applicant community. Bear in mind that the Median Household Income in the U.S. is about $53,000, based on Census 2010, and we almost never award grants to communities with income levels above that threshold.

What do you mean by “at-risk” youth?

We give priority to communities that can document a high degree of social problems among teens and pre-teens, such as drug use, high drop-out rates, high arrest rates, childhood obesity, teen pregnancy, free or reduced school lunches, and the like.

When will I be contacted regarding the status of my grant application?

The foundation’s Board Of Directors meets to determine each semester’s grant recipients about six to eight weeks after that semester’s application deadline. All applicants are notified of the Board’s decision within one week of that meeting via the phone or e-mail information supplied on the application.

Can Tony come to our grand opening?

Not likely. In very rare cases, he has attended grand openings, but only for parks that have received substantial donations from the Foundation. These appearances are generally based on his availability and not due to his personal interest or based on a request by the community.