beautiful parks and healthy trees are for us all



Empowering people to cultivate vibrant parks, green spaces, and trees in our community


Thriving parks and sustainable urban forest that actively support our community’s economic, environmental, and cultural health


Friends was founded in 2008 when an economic recession left many of our city’s parks hurting. Neighbors banded together around the shared belief that every resident in our community deserves to live within walking distance of a safe and beautiful public green space. Read our diversity and inclusion statement!

From the beginning, Friends has worked toward the city’s Master Plan in partnership with the Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department by creating volunteer stewards for parks and trees.

Today, the city’s parks department is a thriving team that manages large-scale park improvements, installs new amenities, and runs amazing recreation programs.

Friends is an independent non-profit entity that works alongside the city, engaging community members, and educating neighbors about the benefits of parks and trees.


Care, collaboration, grow, JEDI, and play

Our partners

City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Dept.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Grand Rapids Public Schools

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

The Wege Foundation

Awards and recognition

Spirit of arbor day Award
Arbor Day Foundation, 2019
Awarded for commitment to growing our urban forest

Community Service Award
Arboriculture Society of MI, 2015
Awarded for engaging community

ideas that matter grant recipient
Sappi Fine Paper North America, 2013

Governor’s Service Award
Michigan Community Service Commission, 2013
Finalist—Outstanding Volunteer Program.

National Urban Forest Leadership
Arbor Day Foundation, 2013
Awarded for excellence in urban forest leadership

Heart of West Michigan United Way, 2013
Awarded for our work around increasing volunteerism

Keep Michigan Beautiful, 2011
Awarded for leadership in beautification

ISA, 2010
Awarded for outstanding landscape beautification activities

Michigan Community Service Commission, 2015
Recipient—Outstanding Volunteer Program