Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Press Release

Southeast Wisconsin Organizations Awarded $35,000 in Grants to Support Local Efforts to Connect Communities to Region’s 700-mile Trail Network

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy invests over $300,000 in 45 grants across 15 states and the District of Columbia, with a focus on projects that engage communities and establish equitable access to trails

By - Nov 17th, 2021 09:00 pm

MILWAUKEE, Wis.—Today, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), the nation’s largest trail advocacy group, announced $35,000 in awards to six local organizations working along the Route of the Badger regional trail network. The 30th Street Industrial Corridor Corporation and Union Grove Rails to Trails are among 45 projects across 15 states and the District of Columbia that have been awarded a combined $308,500 in funding by RTC to support community-led efforts to connect more people with trails in their neighborhoods.

“We view this project as a catalytic component of our efforts to revitalize Milwaukee’s 30th Street Corridor,” said Cheryl Blue, executive director of the 30th Street Industrial Corridor Corporation. “Though it will provide huge social and health benefits to the residents, we are determined to equitably redevelop the corridor so that the economic impact benefits Black Milwaukee as well.”

The regional RTC grants will help Milwaukee and Racine County organizations working to address the diverse needs of their communities and unlock the benefits that access to trails and the outdoors can deliver.

“With this generous RTC grant, we will be able to provide public discussions between Racine County residents and government officials,” said Larissa Gallagher, president of Union Grove Rails to Trails. “This trail extension will connect east and west Racine County and will act as a conduit for the communities to connect, which is not currently available. The health, safety and economic benefits that the finished trail will provide will be enjoyed by our residents and visitors for many years to come.”

RTC’s Trail Grant Program emphasizes strategic investments that support significant regional and community trail development goals—often providing funding for projects that are small in scope and scale and can be hard to finance within traditional funding streams. These projects are essential to building, maintaining and managing the trails that communities rely upon for recreation, transportation and economic vitality.

“At RTC, we believe that trails have the power to transform communities and create joyful, vibrant public spaces that are equitable and inclusive,” said Liz Thorstensen, RTC’s vice president of trail development. “These grants are an intentional investment in the partners and people who are working on the ground—in their neighborhoods and in their states—to establish the programming and the infrastructure necessary to invite everyone living in a community to enjoy their trails. Our partners are leading the way to a future where trails connect everyone, everywhere.”

Investments made to local community organizations include: The 30th Street Industrial Corridor Corporation, Havenwoods Neighborhood Partnership/Villard Avenue Business Improvement District, Near West Side Partners, Northwest Side Community Development Corporation, Union Grove Rails to Trails and Urban Ecology Center.

This round of RTC trail grants prioritized investment in RTC’s flagship initiatives, including RTC’s TrailNation™ initiative, which is designed to establish model trail networks across the country to prove what is possible when you equitably connect people and places by trail.

When completed, the region’s own TrailNation™ project, the 700-mile Route of the Badger trail network will connect rural and urban communities in Southeast Wisconsin—in Racine and Milwaukee counties, as well as Kenosha, Walworth, Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee. The Route of the Badger trail network will link people of all ages to equitable access to jobs, communities, schools, parks and local attractions.

Since 2008, RTC has distributed $2,373,320 in trail development grants. For a listing of all grant recipients, visit railstotrails.org/grants. To learn more about the Route of the Badger trail network, visit railstotrails.org/badger.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is the nation’s largest trails organization—with a grassroots community more than 1 million strong—dedicated to building a nation connected by trails, reimagining public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, bike and be active outdoors. Connect with RTC at railstotrails.org and @railstotrails on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. 

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