CPARC projects encompass a range of applied research priorities, including park and recreation needs assessments, program quality and effectiveness, recreation strategic and master planning, economic impact analysis, cost recovery and alternative financing, and accessibility, inclusion, and social equity. All projects cluster into two main areas of expertise: Agency Planning and Program Evaluation.
Agency Planning. Successful park and recreation agencies must keep up with the demands of their community and make every effort to tailor their services to meet community needs (National Recreation and Park Association, 2016). Engaging the public through a formal needs assessment process provides valuable information that agencies can use to drive future planning efforts. Obtaining input from the public on their wants, needs, and priorities helps to ensure that citizen voices are incorporated into facility and program development, and keep the public well-informed of agency decisionmaking.
Program Evaluation. In the eyes of decision-makers, recreation programs that are worthy of support are those that show credible evidence of success. Success may be determined by hitting specific performance targets such as number of participants, memberships sold, amount of engagement, or level of satisfaction. Success may also be determined by what is changed as a result of program participation, such as increased health, lower juvenile crime rates, higher economic activity, or enhanced knowledge. Program evaluation studies give decision-makers data that can be used to justify, expand, or improve programs.
For more information about CPARC projects or to talk about initiating a project with your agency, contact Bob Barcelona, Ph.D., CPARC Principal Investigator and Recreation Management and Policy Department Chair.