Institute for Urban Parks: Collaboratively Designing Guardrails

Social Impact Strategy
About This Project


Strategic Visioning and Capacity Building to Support the National Urban Parks Field 


The Institute for Urban Parks (Institute) is a uniquely situated department within the larger Central Park Conservancy (CPC) in NYC that supports urban park networks and park leadership across the U.S. by providing thoughtful technical assistance, capacity building, problem-solving strategies, and thought leadership. The Institute is a small dynamic team with a robust and growing network of parks leaders and affiliated stakeholders who look to them for their legacy, expertise, and subject-matter knowledge. The Institute is dedicated towards sustaining and strengthening great urban public spaces. Through their newly launched initiative Partnership Lab, the Institute is expanding the network of practitioners who understand the power of parks across our cities, while providing a very unique national cohort experience.



TYTHEdesign was solicited to conduct a two-day organizational retreat with the Institute for Urban Parks. TYTHE co-developed the retreat agenda in partnership with the Institute based on a set of co-determined goals identified during the kickoff phase of the project. Over the course of the retreat, the team was provided with the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on the impact of the Institute since its founding. By building out and streamlining the ecosystem that the Institute works within (both internally within the CPC and externally), this helped TYTHE to streamline the organizations’ programs, and understand where in the programmatic process different networks can and should be activated. Additionally, we examined the unique skills, assets, expertise, and resources that each individual team member possesses, which provided a learning opportunity to celebrate one another, while strategically building a plan that provides lessons for how the Institute desires to work, and guardrails to set up appropriate boundaries for their work.



Guardrails for their Work

TYTHE and the Institute worked collective in examining the Institute’s organizational values and philosophy, as well as determining the existing capacity and how the team approaches their work. From this, TYTHE was able to deliver a final report that emphasizes the guardrails for how the team desires to work, and furthermore, best practices that are rooted in the insights collected from the retreat. Guardrails in this context will essentially support the Institute through organizational decision-making while forecasting and mitigating potential risks they may experience in their programs and operations. It also supports the Institute to remain true to their mission and identity.


Team Alignment on Strategy

Through the insights collected, TYTHE provided best practices for how the Institute can work within the guardrails in order to refine the existing ecosystem, prepare for future strategic planning opportunities and moments for partnership with the CPC, and most importantly, continue to serve as a national advocate for the community of practice that is the field of urban parks.


Client: Institute for Urban Parks – Central Park Conservancy

Collaborators: Hillary Clark, Kristina Drury, Claudie Mabry