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Parks Foundation of Highland Park

Are you looking for inspiring opportunities to give more purpose to your life, create a deeper connection with your community, and make a real difference now and for generations to come? 

Exciting things are happening at the Parks Foundation of Highland Park and we welcome you to be a part of it.  


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The Parks Foundation of Highland Park believes that every resident deserves the opportunity for an enriched healthy life.  We do that by providing resources to ensure everyone in Highland Park has access to our world class park district.  It is our mission to collaborate with residents, community groups and partner organizations to turn that belief into a reality. 

The Parks Foundation was formed in 2016 and is as an independent, community-led, 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization.  

Current Projects

Ozzie Guillen 2018 Champions Banquet guest speaker. The event raised $20,000 for SMILE

Judy’s Pizza – Now through August 10…just say “SMILE Fundraiser” when you order a pizza from Judy’s Pizza and 10% will be donated to the SMILE Grant-in-Aid program.  Order your pizza today by calling Judy’s Pizza at 847-579-8330

Yoga at Ravinia – Monday, August 6, 6-7pm Join the Parks Foundation and Trayci Handleman, certified yoga instructor with the Park Distirct of Highlnad Park.  She will lead music lovers in an interactive yoga session prior to the Angelique Kidjo and Femi Kuti concert.  Participants will be guided through an all-levels Vinyasa Flow. Limited supply of mats will be provided.  

Use Promo Code HPYOGA when you purchase your concert tickets to be added to the yoga session. Participation requires a ticket to the concert.  To purchase your tickets, click here.

What the Foundation Does

Meeting the growing and changing needs of the community and keeping taxes and program fees in check requires a delicate balance. The Parks Foundation bridges the gap between public resources and the need to maintain a vibrant park system. 


  • Providing scholarship funds for participants experiencing financial difficulty through the SMILE Grant-in-Aid Program
  • Raising funds to enhance the Park District ‘s quality recreation programs, services and facilities 
  • Encouraging advocates to give time, money and talents

Did You Know?

Property taxes support only 50% of your Park District’s operating costs?
Your Park District maintains over 700 acres of land, eleven facilities and over 3,500 programs 

Bluegrass Shrimp Boil Fundraiser



View the Parks Foundation of Highland Park Bylaws

Get Involved

Are you looking for inspiring opportunities to give more purpose to your life, create a deeper connection with your community, and make a real difference now and for generations to come…Exciting things are happening at the Parks Foundation of Highland Park and we welcome you to be a part of it.

If you are interested in:

Foundation raises $2,200 at FourthFest

  • Learning more about the Foundation or volunteering, click here to contact us
  • Becoming a Board member, click here.
  • To make a cash donation, click here.
  • For information on making a commemorative donation of a tree, bench or other item to recognize a loved one or to celebrate a special occasion, click here 






SMILE (Scholarships Mean Involvement in Leisure for Everyone!)

We believe everyone in our community should have access to Park District programs regardless of their family’s financial situation.

In 1992, the SMILE Grant-in-Aid program was created to enable families in need of financial assistance the opportunity to participate in Park District programs. Each year SMILE makes it possible for hundreds of residents to participate in camps, sports, lessons and fitness programs.

SMILE is funded through generous donations from Park District of Highland Park residents and local businesses. In the last year, $100,000 in grants were awarded to over 85 Highland Park families through this worthwhile program.

Applying for a SMILE Grant

All Grant-In-Aids are awarded on the basis of need and availability of Grant-In-Aid funds at the time of application. Upon submission of a grant request, families will be notified in 15 working days of their grant status. Questions regarding the Grant-In-Aid program may be directed to Stephanie Rendler at 847.579.3133 or

An application form (in English or Spanish) requesting detailed financial information is available at West Ridge Center or can be downloaded here. Forms must be completed and submitted to the Registration office at West Ridge Center.

Easy Ways to Make a SMILE Donation

  • When registering for a program in person, check the SMILE donation box on your registration form and include the donation amount with your payment.
  • When registering for a program online, click on the “Donate to SMILE” category and pay for your donation at checkout.
  • Download this S.M.I.L.E Donation Form and send with payment to Parks Foundation of Highland Park, 636 Ridge Road, Highland Park, IL 60035.

Board members serve up to two consecutive three-year terms and responsibilities include:

  • Engaging in fundraising
  • Participating in planning and policy development
  •  Acting as a goodwill ambassador 
  • Reviewing and approving annual budget & financial statements
  • Serving on committees and taking on special assignments
  • Recruiting Board members
  • Demonstrating personal qualities of integrity, credibility and passion for enriching the lives of the participants PDHP serves
  • Attending and supporting Foundation events

Time Commitment:  Members can expect to spend approx. 2 hours per month on Foundation related business in addition to meetings and events.

Please complete and submit your online application below. Or, to learn more about board membership, please contact Liza McElroy at 847.579.3108 or