GreenWays Initiative

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The GreenWays Initiative was developed to create opportunities for collaboration and shared environmental awareness and appreciation by the residents of the seven-county region served by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The initiative began as a five-year initiative as a comprehensive effort to expand and enhance our region’s natural landscape.

Greenways are linear open spaces, including habitat and trails, that link parks, nature reserves, cultural features or historic sites with each other, for recreation and conservation purposes.

The GreenWays Initiative launched in 2001 as a comprehensive effort aimed at expanding and enhancing our region’s natural landscape. It is about linkage, leverage and collaboration: linking communities, leveraging vision, resources and people, and collaborating to promote and protect the health and well-being of the community for the present and the future.

Through $25 million in foundation and private contributions, the GreenWays Initiative assisted communities and organizations to develop and implement greenways plans and project that leverage another $90 million of matching investment from governments and other sources. This landmark initiative channeled an unprecedented $75 million to created and expand greenways in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties.

Greenways are rapidly becoming an important urban revitalization program throughout the region. Increasingly communities are coming together and developing greenways that link communities together through a common green thread. Taken together, they constitute a true vision for greenways for southeast Michigan. In 2006, the grantmaking portion of the GreenWays Initiative ended. However, the initiative continues today linking communities together and promoting the health of those communities.

The GreenWays Initiative itself was developed with several years of input from more than 70 organizations and agencies, as well as the encouragement and support of a group of community leaders committed to building greenways. As the GreenWays Initiative begins, the Community Foundation expresses profound appreciation to the foundations, corporations and generous individuals who have supported it thus far, and who are committed to this vision for the future of southeast Michigan.

The vision behind the GreenWays Initiative is simple: If people and organizations work together to connect the region’s communities through natural corridors, great things will happen. We hope you will become involved – through participation in a greenways project in your neighborhood or through a gift to the GreenWays endowment fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. This fund was established in 2000 to provide a permanent source of support for the development and maintenance of connected open spaces, trails and habitats in southeast Michigan.

GreenWays Initiative: Planning for Detroit's Rail-Trails This study, compiled by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, inventories and maps all rail corridors abandoned in the greater Detroit region between 1962 and mid-2002 to assess their potential for development as recreational trails, nonmotorized transportation connectors or other public uses.

GreenWays Initiative Resources



East Riverfront District

2012 Plan: A Vision of Greenways for the Greater Riverfront East District of Detroit


5e-greenways_initiative_wayside_companion.pdf5.04 MB
Planning_for_Detroits_rail.pdf4.59 MB