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Southeastern Michigan begins GreenWays Initiative

Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan

By Tom Woiwod, Director

Map of Michigan Five years ago, the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan seized an extraordinary opportunity to use greenways— "green ribbons"— to tie together greater Detroit and the 250 municipalities that make up the region.

In 2001, the Foundation launched the GreenWays Initiative, a 5-year, $25 million program to fund the design and construction of greenways, provide training and technical support to agencies and municipalities that were undertaking greenways development, and raise public awareness about the benefits greenways can bring to local communities.

"Since the GreenWays Initiative was launched, the Community Foundation has awarded 87 GreenWays Initiative grants totaling $10.9 million."

The GreenWays Initiative represented new ground for the Community Foundation. In fact, there was no program anywhere in the country that could serve as a model. The $25 million the Foundation set out to raise from the private sector, its most ambitious effort to date, was to leverage at least $50 million in public dollars over the five years of the program.

Since the GreenWays Initiative was launched, the Community Foundation has awarded 87 GreenWays Initiative grants totaling $10.9 million. Those grants will result in:

the leveraging of approximately $65 million in public money, almost 10 times the amount of public money that had come to southeast Michigan for these purposes in the previous 10 years approximately 80 miles of greenways, essentially doubling the miles of pedestrian pathways that existed previously the linking of over 75 different municipalities— approximately one-third of the entire region the creation of at least a dozen sub-regional, multi-jurisdictional coalitions of communities that now share plans and resources.

It is widely accepted that none of this would have happened without the extraordinary investment of $25 million in private funds contributed to the Community Foundation for this effort.

Tom Woiwode is Director of the Southeastern Michigan GreenWays Initiative. Previous to that he directed the Nature Conservancy of Michigan. For more information about the GreenWays initiative visit

September 20, 2005

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