CPRS Awards Program

CPRS Awards of Excellence

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NEW this year... updated criteria for Creating Community, Park Planning, Facility Design, and Marketing & Communications Awards! 

Award Categories

Awards of Excellence

Creating Community * Park Planning * Facility Design * Marketing & Communications

Apply Today! 

As our award criteria have been updated for this year, we strongly suggest you visit 'Award Selection Criteria' for an outline of what you will be required to submit on your Creating Community, Park Planning, Facility Design and Marketing & Communications award applications.  

Creating Community Award of Excellence
This award recognizes outstanding initiatives by agencies, departments, or districts in their effort to deliver the highest level of recreation and leisure programs and services that embody and embrace the values and mission of the profession and move the agency towards a stronger position or role within the community.

Your entry must have been conducted for a minimum of three years.*
*Covid related programming and services do not qualify for the Creating Community Award.
 

REQUESTED Additional Submittals to be uploaded during application process:
High quality photos
Other background information to support criteria

Excellence in Design - Facility Design
This award recognizes excellence in design of completed aquatic, recreation and/or cultural facilities intended for public use. The project may be either new construction or a rehabilitation project that demonstrates high standards of planning, design, community involvement, operation and maintenance, quality of aesthetics, usability, accessibility and versatility. This award further recognizes design and construction or significant rehabilitation of buildings, structures and facilities used primarily to support park and recreation purposes.

Project must have been completed between November 1, 2021 and October 31, 2022.

REQUIRED Additional Submittals to be uploaded during application process:
Master Plan or Site Plan, including plant palette (REQUIRED)
Notice of Completion or other documentation that states when the project was completed (REQUIRED)
High quality photos including before/after photos if project is a rehab
Other background information to support criteria

Excellence in Design - Park Planning
This award recognizes excellence in design of completed park facilities intended for public use. The project may be either new construction or a rehabilitation project that demonstrates high standards of planning, design, community involvement, operation and maintenance, quality of aesthetics, usability, accessibility and versatility. This award further recognizes planning and development or significant rehabilitation of outdoor park and recreation spaces where the majority of the site does not contain buildings, structures or facilities and that result in higher levels of community use.

Project must have been completed between November 1, 2021 and October 31, 2022.

REQUIRED Additional Submittals to be uploaded during application process:
Site Plan (REQUIRED)
Building Floor Plan (REQUIRED)
Notice of Completion or other documentation that states when the project was completed (REQUIRED)
High quality photos including before/after photos if project is a rehab
Other background information to support criteria

Marketing & Communications Award of Excellence
This award recognizes excellence in print, audio visual or electronic communications that (1) externally promote the agency’s public parks, facilities, recreation or leisure services programs and have successfully demonstrated an increased level of public awareness or (2) are used to enhance the agency’s internal communications to staff, policy makers, or current program participants.

Project must have been completed between November 1, 2021 and October 31, 2022.

REQUESTED Additional Submittals to be uploaded during application process:
Link (URL) to where entry can be viewed online (upload your LIVE link on a word doc or pdf)
Screen shots of online media
Sample of print materials
High quality photos
Other background information to support criteria

Professional and Service Awards

Champion of the Community * Fellow/Hall of Fame * Rising Professional * Outstanding Research * Citation of Merit / CPRS Champion

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Champion of the Community
The Champion of the Community award honors and recognizes individuals or organizations who have contributed significant effort to influence and improve the quality of their community through parks and recreation. This statewide award recognizes the contributions of those who volunteer and provide support and services in their community that furthers the mission and quality delivery of park and recreation services, programs and facilities in their community.

This award is not awarded to employees or retirees in the parks and recreation profession.

REQUESTED Additional Submittals to be uploaded during application process:
High quality photo(s) of nominee
Other background information to support criteria

Fellowship / Hall of Fame
The Fellowship / Hall of Fame is CPRS' highest award to honor and recognize individuals who have significantly contributed to and influenced CPRS and the parks and recreation profession throughout their career. This award is not necessarily awarded each year. The Hall of Fame is proudly displayed at CPRS Headquarters, in Sacramento.

REQUESTED Additional Submittals to be uploaded during application process:
Up to 4 (four) letters of reference / achievement addressing one or more of the award criteria
High quality photo(s) of nominee
Other background information to support criteria

Rising Professional
This award honors and recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to CPRS through service on State, Region, Section or District Boards or committees, or through service to CPRS at events, programs or conferences for no less than 3 and no more than 10 years of service. Up to one (1) Rising Professional may be named per CPRS Region annually. This award is designed to recognize the contributions of those who work on behalf of CPRS to advance the profession and who strengthen and support CPRS as a professional organization.

REQUESTED Additional Submittals to be uploaded during application process:
High quality photo(s) of nominee
Other background information to support criteria


Outstanding Research

The Outstanding Research Award honors and recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to CPRS and the profession by engaging in all aspects of applied research. The nominee must demonstrate a record of dissemination of research over a period of at least 5 years that reaches professionals in the field via publications, technical reports, and/or presentations at the district, state (CPRS), or national (NRPA Conference) levels. This statewide award is designed to recognize the research contributions of those who advance the profession and who strengthen and support CPRS as a professional organization.

REQUESTED Additional Submittals to be uploaded during application process:

High quality photo(s) of nominee
Other background information to support criteria

Citation of Merit / CPRS Champion
The Citation of Merit honors and recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to CPRS through service on the State, Section or District Boards, committees, or through service to CPRS at events, programs or conferences for 6 years or more. This statewide award is designed to recognize the contributions of those who work on behalf of CPRS to advance the profession and who strengthen and support CPRS as a professional organization.

REQUESTED Additional Submittals to be uploaded during application process:
High quality photo(s) of nominee
Other background information to support criteria

UPDATED! Award Selection Criteria

Awards of Excellence

Creating Community * Park Planning * Facility Design * Marketing & Communications

Apply Today! 

Each award submission will be reviewed by a panel of judges.  The focus of the reviews will be on how well you 'tell the story' through these 5 criteria.  
Telling the Story...

Share how your program, park, facility, or marketing effort supports our California Action Plan and Parks Make Life Better! goals.  Tell the Story of your success, highlighting how your entry satisfied one or more of these goals:

  • Promote physical, emotional, and mental health and wellness
  • Support economic vitality of our community
  • Create memorable experiences
  • Foster social cohesiveness
  • Support human development and endless learning
  • Strengthen community identity
  • Facilitate community problem and issue resolution
  • Sustain and steward our natural, historical and/or cultural resources
  • Support a safe, vibrant, attractive, and progressive community
Think of this criterion as 'the overall story of the program, park, facility, or media'.  
400 word maximum; 20 points
Community Need or Challenge and your Desired Outcomes...

Outline the community need or significant challenge your program, park, facility, or media project intended to answer/solve.  Describe the desired outcomes you were looking to achieve.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • What was the impact if this community need or challenge was not addressed?
  • Did your desired outcomes consider and address equity, accessibility, and diversity in your community? How? 
Think of this criterion as 'the problem/idea and how you wanted it to look when finished'.
400 word maximum; 20 points
Innovative Approach(es)...

Detail how your approach was different, new, or innovative in addressing your community need/challenge and reaching your desired outcomes.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • What various strategies, tools, technology, and resources were used?
  • Were non-traditional fiscal or community resources (grants, sponsorships, volunteers, etc.) employed?
  • Did you collaborate with other agencies or create a public/private partnership to accomplish your goals?
Think of this criterion as 'HOW the problem/idea was fixed or implemented'.
400 word maximum; 20 points
Community Collaboration...

Describe the role policy makers, staff, community members, partners and/or stakeholders played in reaching your desired outcomes.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • How did you engage policy makers, community members, and partners in obtaining needed resources?
  • How did you ensure diverse community partners and perspectives in your collaborations and problem solving?
  • What communication channels did you utilize to ensure all community members or stakeholders were included?
Think of this criterion as 'WHO helped implement or fix the idea/problem'.
400 word maximum; 20 points
Measuring Success...

Specify, through measurable results, how you know you reached your desired outcomes as outlined above.  Did the entry create a substantial community benefit, improve operational efficiencies, create new or increased value in the community or significantly enhance the provision of park and recreation services?  How do you know?

Some thoughts to consider:

  • What metrics did you use to know this was a successful program, park, facility, or marketing effort?
  • How do you know your program, park, facility, or media has reached a diverse cross section of your community and/or is inclusive of and accessible to all?
  • How have you celebrated your success and shared the story to advocate for additional support, awareness, or resources?
Think of this criterion as 'PROOF the idea was implemented or problem was solved successfully'. 
400 words maximum; 20 points

Professional & Service Awards

Champion of the Community * Fellow/Hall of Fame * Rising Professional * Outstanding Research * Citation of Merit / CPRS Champion

Apply Today! 

Each award submission will be reviewed by a panel of judges.  The focus of the reviews will be on the accomplishments and contributions of the nominee, as outlined in your narrative.  Successful submissions will address any one of the suggested areas outlined, using specific examples.

Award Program FAQs

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Deadline to submit your nominations is Thursday, January 12, 2023

Award recipients will be notified in March 2023.

Do I need to be a member of CPRS to submit a nomination and/or receive an award?

See the chart below to determine if you must be a member of CPRS to nominate and/or receive an award:

Award Category Nominee Nominator
Creating Community Member/Non Member Member/Non Member
Facility Design Member/Non Member Member/Non Member
Park Planning Member/Non Member Member/Non Member
Marketing & Communications Member/Non Member Member/Non Member
Fellow/Hall of Fame Must be Member Must be Member
Rising Professional Must be Member Member/Non Member
Champion of the Community Member/Non Member Must be Member
Outstanding Research Must be Member Member/Non Member
Citation of Merit/CPRS Champion Must be Member Member/Non Member


What is the deadline to submit a nomination?

Entries must be submitted online by 11:59 pm Thursday, January 12, 2023.

Entry fee(s) must be paid online by 11:59 pm Thursday, January 12, 2023.

Are there fees associated with submitting a nomination?  How much?

Award Category Fee
Creating Community $75 Member / $170 Non Member
Facility Design $75 Member / $170 Non Member
Park Planning $75 Member / $170 Non Member
Marketing & Communications $75 Member / $170 Non Member
Fellow/Hall of Fame No Fee
Rising Professional No Fee
Champion of the Community $75 Member / $170 Non Member
Outstanding Research $75 Member / $170 Non Member
Citation of Merit/CPRS Champion $75 Member / $170 Non Member


Failure to pay the entry fee (if applicable) will disqualify your entry.

How do I pay my entry fee?

The entry fee must be paid on line at the time of submission.  Purchase orders and agency/personal checks will not be accepted.

May I submit more than one nomination in a specific category?

Agencies may submit more than one entry per category but not within the same class or division.

Tell me more about judging and how to submit a winning nomination...

Entries will be considered complete if all of the required information is submitted. Judges reserve the right to reassign an entry to a more appropriate category. The judges' decisions are final and judging information may be released upon the request of an agency to the Chair of that particular Awards Category. Judges are not required to select a winner in every category. For additional information on how to submit a more effective award nomination, review our "Award Winning Strategies."

Can private firms and/or individuals submit nominations?

Award entries submitted by private firms or individuals, i.e. architects, landscape architects, planners, graphic designers, etc. must submit a letter from their client acknowledging their permission to submit the program or project.

What information do I need to submit to be considered for an award?

Each entry must complete the Award Entry Form.  To see an outline of the submission criteria, view our Award Selection Criteria.

Each category requires additional submittal information. Please read each Award Category “Additional Submittals Required” section carefully to ensure your entry is qualified to be judged. Incomplete entries will not be judged.

Use our Award Winning Strategies to ensure your nomination is award worthy!

Photos: Acceptable format for photos is jpg.  Please ensure your photos are of the highest resolution possible (i.e. 300 dpi or higher).

Please Note:  All materials will become part of the CPRS library collection to share with other agencies and will not be returned to the entrant. The submission of this application warrants that all materials submitted do not violate any copyright or other proprietary rights of others; that the materials are original works; that any photograph or videos are clear of any ownership or copyright restrictions and those persons in the pictures or videos have agreed to or have no objection to CPRS using the pictures in promoting the agency's program or in any other CPRS material.

Award Winning Strategies

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What makes a submission a winner? Here are tips from our judges to ensure a well written entry to the CPRS Awards Program:

Start now!

Don't wait until the last minute to prepare your awards submission! 

  • Review the award program descriptions carefully, noting the evaluation criteria that will be used to judge your entry. Also note each category requires different submittal information!
  • Start identifying the people, reports, photos, or documents you will need to complete your entry.
  • Ask another staff member to proof the narrative and submittals for misspellings and typos.
  • Be sure each submittal is labeled as directed and is in the right format (PDF, jpg, etc).

Need to step away from your application?

No problem!  Once you create an account and begin the process, you will receive an email with a link to update your application.  You will have until 11:59pm, January 12, 2023 to make edits, add files, and review information. 

Keep it simple and follow all directions

The award categories, entry criteria, and submittal requirements are slightly different for each award, so it is important to read each award category carefully.  Following directions will eliminate the chance your entry will be disqualified. Don't let this happen to your entry!

Focus on the evaluation criteria

The judges will rely solely on your narrative to tell your story. Have the evaluation criteria by your side as you write your narrative. Provide the information requested in a direct, simple style.

Resist the temptation to overwrite!

Review, review and review again

Do not underestimate the value of a well written narrative - this is our only way to judge your nomination! Have someone who has NO knowledge of the entry/program/facility review your narrative and submittals before submitting them online. Be sure to give them the evaluation criteria to follow! They should review your narrative for clarity, grammar, and spelling.

Keep a copy of your award entry narrative and submittals for your records as NO materials will be returned to you.  This is especially important if you want to re-submit the same application or follow the same format for a new entry.

Choose your agency contact well

Your agency contact will receive detailed information regarding the status of your award as well as any recognition for award recipients. They will be required to meet specific deadlines regarding your entry.  Select the most detailed person in your agency or organization to be the 'gatekeeper' of all information regarding your awards applications.

Recognition of Award Recipients

Awards recipients in each category, division, and class will receive:

  • A one of a kind mosaic plaque, hand made by our friends at Piece by Piece
  • Statewide recognition at CONNECTIONS 2023 (CPRS Conference & Expo), April 3-6, 2023 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego
  • CPRS representative available to present the Award virtually or in person at a local event
  • Statewide recognition in the Spring issue of California Parks & Recreation and on the CPRS website, www.cprs.org
  • Electronic Award of Excellence logo for agency promotional purposes
  • Sample press release for award recipient to distribute to local or regional media

Apply Today! 

Have questions or need Technical Assistance?

For general Award Program or criteria questions, please connect with our Award Program Co-Chairs:
Stephanie Molina, 661-763-7011
Leah Martinez, 925-314-3431

For questions regarding our online nominations process, please connect with CPRS HQ:
Stephanie Stephens, 916.665.2777

2020 Best of the Best

Sincere thanks to our long time Award Program Sponsors...

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