Earth Day, Every Day

Holidays like Earth Day and Arbor Day remind us to protect and appreciate our invaluable natural resources. At the Cleveland Foundation, a healthy environment is a year-round priority.

Since our start over a century ago, we’ve led efforts to preserve public greenspaces and protect our environment. On the heels of Earth Day, and looking forward to Arbor Day this Friday, we’re taking a look at our history of environmental support.

Here are some highlights:

1919: A foundation-commissioned study helped launch the Cleveland Metroparks, our city’s “Emerald Necklace.” In 2013, we granted $200,000 to transfer management of six lakefront parks from the state of Ohio to the Metroparks. Today, the Metroparks encompass more than 23,000 acres of interconnected green space in 18 reservations.

1965: We supported a successful campaign led by The Nature Conservancy’s Ohio Chapter and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to acquire all the acreage constituting the threatened Mentor Marsh in Lake County, one of the largest natural wetlands remaining on the Lake Erie Shoreline.  

1976: We helped start Rapid Recovery, a citizens’ campaign mounted during Cleveland’s bicentennial year to clean up the trash-littered landscape along the rapid transit line. Rapid Response ultimately became ParkWorks in 1999, an advocacy and project management organization dedicated to public greenspaces. ParkWorks would later merge with Cleveland Public Art to become LAND Studio, a developer of urban parks and public art which is currently leading the transformation of Public Square.

1990: The foundation began sustained grantmaking in the field of the environment.

1995: We helped secure a “National Heritage Corridor” designation for the historic Ohio & Erie Canal route, extending south from Lake Erie through the Cuyahoga River Valley to New Philadelphia, Ohio. Another grant in 1997 helped develop a strategic plan to develop the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.

1997: We helped the Trust for Public Land (TPL) open a field office in Cleveland to connect Cleveland residents to Lake Erie, the Cuyahoga River and the national park. TPL-Cleveland later acquired land for the Lake Link Trail connecting the Cuyahoga river valley to Cleveland’s industrial flats. In 2014, we gave a $5 million Centennial Legacy Grant to the Trust for Public Land’s Lake Link Trail project, connecting the Ohio & Erie Canal towpath at the southern end of Scranton Peninsula to Wendy Park on Whiskey Island.

2001: We provided critical early-stage support to the Cleveland Green Building Coalition, to educate community leaders about the economic, environmental and health benefits of green building. Today, the coalition is a chapter of the United States Green Building Council.

2003: We helped establish, and continue to support LEEDCo, a nonprofit corporation leading the first-ever freshwater wind farm in the United States, right on Lake Erie. LEEDCo can create a new advanced energy economy in Cleveland and bring more jobs in wind turbine manufacturing.

2016: This summer, we’re looking forward to the completion of Public Square’s historic transformation. In 2014, we made an $8 million Centennial Legacy Grant to LAND Studio in support of the revitalization of Public Square into a vibrant outdoor public space for all Clevelanders. In a matter of months, Cleveland’s new Public Square will be unveiled and opened to the public!

These are just a few examples of our support for the preservation of public land and the protection of our region’s natural resources now and for generations to come. Every day of the year, we remain committed to promoting a healthy environment for the benefit of all Greater Clevelanders.