Bringing Youth, Community and Nature Together for 25 Years!
The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park (FVCP), an independent community based organization, actively promotes the conservation and improvement of Van Cortlandt Park, the third largest park in NYC, through environmental education and restoration and enhancement of the Park, its forests and trails.
FVCP have grown to become Van Cortlandt Parks’ primary free educational organization– developing educational and stewardship programs for over 6,500 children and adults each year.
FVCP offer the following programs in the Park:
- Van Cortlandt Adventures School Programs
- Environmental Internship Program (School Year & Summer Teen Trails Crew)
- Youth Run Farm Stand
- Volunteer and Stewardship Programs for Trail, Forest, Wetland and Garden Restoration projects
- Environmental Explorations Teacher Workshops Series
- Community Programs (Hike-a-Thon, EcoCrafts, Trail Runs, etc.)
Celebrating All That Was Accomplished
In 1992, Bronx resident Felicity Nitz read an article in the New York Times describing the predicament facing her neighborhood’s backyard—the 1,146-acre Van Cortlandt Park in the North Bronx. With summer just around the corner, budget shortfalls and mounting needs in all of New York City’s public parks was putting the squeeze on the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation’s funding and staffing. Home to over 20 miles of hiking trails, the country’s oldest municipal golf course, a cross-country running course, a horse stable, a house where George Washington really did sleep, and many of New York City’s wildest and most rugged natural areas, Van Cortlandt Park holds a special place in the city’s world-class constellation of parks and open spaces. However, unlike many of its better-known counterparts like Central Park, Van Cortlandt in 1992 had no wealthy benefactors or organized network of local support. Ms. Nitz and a committed band of community members decided to change that.
The nonprofit group they formed, the aptly named Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, began by raising money to hire a small group of local students that summer to work clearing brush and picking up litter. As the NYC Park’s budget decreased from 0.65 percent of the city’s overall expenditures in 1991 to 0.52 percent in 2001, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park’s impact on Van Cortlandt continued to grow. The first Summer Teen Program had such a positive effect on both the park and the participants that FVCP was encouraged by city officials to assume a much broader role assisting the park. Today, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park is dedicated to the conservation and improvement of Van Cortlandt Park. Through those two main activities—education and maintenance—FVCP is working to boost local stewardship and is keeping the park in top shape for the 2.5 million people who visit each year. In 2009, the Friends of VCP hired the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference to complete a Trails Plan to look at ways to improve the hiking trails of the Park. This plan has been approved as a working document by the Parks Department and projects are currently being implemented.
During FY16, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park had several accomplishments including, FVCP:
• Served 6,564 children and adults through our various programs;
• Worked with 1,661 volunteers on garden, forest, wetland, and trail restoration projects;
• Reached 2,368 students through our Van Cortlandt Adventures educational programs;
• Hired 12 interns for a Summer Teen Trail Crew internship who cleared overgrowth, installed drainage swales, and completed several other trail restoration projects over seven week;
• Hired 4 interns for Youth Run Farm Stands which provided fresh local grown produce to the local communities at two locations;
• Began conducting weekly water quality monitoring of Tibbetts Brook and Van Cortlandt Lake; and,
• Developed a Coalition for Daylighting Tibbetts Brook with over a dozen organizations and elected officials signing on.
The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are a 501c3 nonprofit organization . Our EIN is 13-3843182.