Cleveland Rocks!

Posted: April 19, 2011

Tony Hawk Foundation grants help bring skateparks to urban Midwest and rural Native America.

Public Square Group
Part of Public Square Group’s advocacy program for skateparks in northeastern Ohio involves teaching skateboarding technique and skatepark etiquette to young skaters.

4/19/11 (Vista, CA) – The message is that skateparks can and should serve every community. A meeting of the Tony Hawk Foundation Board of Directors last week produced fifteen recipients of the organization’s coveted skatepark-grant awards. In addition to the landmark downtown skatepark in a Cleveland, Ohio redevelopment neighborhood, a more modest—but equally critical—project in rural South Dakota will serve youth of the region’s Native American communities.

The unparalleled advocacy of northeastern Ohio’s Public Square Group should serve as a model for skatepark supporters throughout the country. That, combined with the city leadership’s strong support for the project, made the Cleveland skatepark a rock-star stand out among this semester’s applicants.

Cleveland is undergoing a transformation into a more livable, healthy and vibrant community, in which skateboarding and other forms of public recreation are critical components.

“Cleveland is undergoing a transformation into a more livable, healthy and vibrant community, in which skateboarding and other forms of public recreation are critical components,” says Vince Frantz, Executive Director of Public Square Group. “This support from the Tony Hawk Foundation is an important external validation of the role that skateboarding and the skating community can play in this transformation. For Public Square Group and the skaters of Cleveland, receiving national recognition from THF is a signal to double our efforts.”

The challenges facing members of the Lakota Reservation community in Pine Ridge, South Dakota are staggering. And those who suffer the most from high rates of poverty, substance abuse, unemployment, and crime are the area’s youth. So when pro skater Jim Murphy and local advocates teamed up with Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament to build a quality, concrete skatepark in Pine Ridge, they hoped to create a real jewel in the otherwise bleak landscape, and applied to THF for a grant to assist them.

The THF Board of Directors chose the Pine Ridge skatepark as one of its top recipients with a 10,000-dollar grant. Board Members Chris Sacca and Ben Harper then each personally pledged an additional 5,000 dollars to ensure the Lakota-youth skatepark achieved its funding goal, and to add more rock-star support for this critical project.

“Skateboarding saves lives,” says Pine Ridge’s Wounded Knee 4-Directions Skateparks Director Jim Murphy. “And on this reservation, with an astronomical suicide rate among the youth, this skatepark is coming at a critical time when the parents and elders of the tribe are looking for a positive, healthy outlet for their kids to look forward to. The spirit of the Tony Hawk Foundation will help bring this to the Pine Ridge Reservation!”

Thirteen other stellar projects to receive THF awards span the nation, from California to Massachusetts, for a total of fifteen grants worth 125,000 dollars.

Spring 2011 Tony Hawk Foundation Skatepark Grant Recipients


  • Cleveland, Ohio


  • Pine Ridge, South Dakota


  • Monte Vista, Colorado
  • Bellevue, Pennsylvania
  • Arlington, Texas


  • Lakeside, California
  • Hanover, Illinois
  • Pembroke, Massachusetts
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Plymouth, New Hampshire
  • Fort Gibson, Oklahoma
  • Heavener, Oklahoma
  • Poteau, Oklahoma
  • La Conner, Washington
  • Eau Claire, Wisconsin

“Every community in this group has an exceptional story to tell,” says Tony Hawk Foundation Programs Director Peter Whitley. “These skatepark efforts represent a vision that embraces all youth through recreational access and community support. We hope to see each of these grant recipients produce a skatepark that serves as the new gold standard for their region. It’s due to the positivity, dedication, and tenacity of communities like these that allows skateboarding to continue growing and providing a positive outlet for our youth.”

Tony Hawk Foundation skatepark grants will be available once more this year. The Summer 2011 Skatepark Grant Application deadline is July 1, and will be the final opportunity to apply for a THF grant until 2012.

A charitable, non-profit organization, the Tony Hawk Foundation was established in 2002 by its namesake, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, to promote and provide funds for high-quality public skateparks in low-income areas throughout the United States—with an emphasis on the word "quality." Since then, the Foundation has awarded $3,872,350 to 481 communities. The Foundation focuses on working with local officials and grassroots, community-based organizations that plan to hire designers and contractors with strong experience designing and building skateparks.

The Tony Hawk Foundation was established by a gift from Tony Hawk. Its directors raise additional funds through events, industry donations, and continuing contributions from Tony and other entities. In addition to skateparks, the Foundation also makes donations to other children-related charities, as chosen by its Board Of Directors. For more information or to make a donation, visit the Foundation's Web site.

Jim Murphy and fellow advocate Walt Pourier
Wounded Knee 4-Directions Skateparks Director Jim Murphy and fellow advocate Walt Pourier from the Stronghold Society meet with Native youth to discuss the benefits of skateboarding and the Pine Ridge, South Dakota skatepark project.

Grindline Skatepark concept
The Grindline Skateparks concept for the 15,000-square-foot riverfront Cleveland Skatepark.

Three views
Three views of the modest but versatile 6,000-square-foot Grindline Skateparks design for the Wounded Knee 4-Directions skatepark.

Skaters from all over Cleveland
Skaters from all over Cleveland meet in Public Square Group’s annual East Meets West “Game Of SKATE” competition, bringing the city’s skaters together for a public demonstration of their numbers and passion for skating.

Jim Murphy presents plans
Jim Murphy presents plans for the Wounded Knee 4-Directions skatepark project to members of the Red Cloud Indian School’s Girls Basketball Team in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

Executive Director Vince Frantz
Executive Director Vince Frantz hands out stickers to participants at one of Public Square Group’s Pop Up Lesson sessions.

Art and skateboard exhibit.
Art and skateboard exhibit promoting the Wounded Knee 4-Directions skatepark project in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

Skaters in Cleveland
Skaters in Cleveland, Ohio soon won’t need to travel out of the city to visit a skatepark.

Cleveland residents
Cleveland residents take in a Public Square Group presentation of the city’s downtown skatepark plan.

Jim Murphy
Jim Murphy takes time during a discussion about the Pine Ridge, South Dakota skatepark to give a lesson in counting change to a couple of future skatepark users.

Public Skatepark Development Guide

Public Skatepark Development Guide
Second Edition Released!

The Public Skatepark Development Guide, the indispensable handbook for public-skatepark advocates, is now available in an updated and improved second edition. First published in 2007 by the Tony Hawk Foundation, Skaters For Public Skateparks, and the International Association of Skateboard Companies, the ultimate guide for community-skatepark advocates was available for free, and supplies quickly disappeared. The new 128-page second edition features updated information and expanded chapters, including skatepark vision, advocacy, fundraising, design, and management, plus several supplements and visual aids.

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