Greater Toledo Community Foundation this morning announced a gift of $400,000 to the Metroparks Toledo Foundation to support Glass City Riverwalk. Specifically, the donation will sponsor a unique public art installation that visitors can enjoy in all seasons.
“We’re excited to join Metroparks today to unveil this sculpture and emphasize our continued support of their efforts,” stated Keith Burwell, president of Greater Toledo Community Foundation. “In celebration of our 50th Anniversary, we wanted to give back to our community in a meaningful way; thus, this significant gift. Our Metroparks system is tops in the country and contributes greatly to the quality of life in our community. We are excited to see the evolution of this park and how it will be a game changer for Toledo – for all to enjoy.”
GTCF announced that it would distribute more than $600,000 in funding, in 2023, to local nonprofit organizations in celebration of its 50th anniversary—in addition to an annual average grant distribution of approximately $18 million. The Foundation also announced a 12-month campaign, “Fifty Years of Funding Futures,” along with a 2023 calendar of community events and programs centered on honoring the past, celebrating the present and equipping future generations for continued community impact.
"This is just one of many times the Community Foundation has played a significant role in Metroparks ability to serve our community," said Joe Napoli, president of the Metroparks Toledo Foundation. "Keith and the Foundation have been with us from the beginning, making a significant contribution that helped pay for the design of this park."
The latest gift will be acknowledged at Rain Towers, a group of five, functional sculptures by Toledo-based Graphite Design + Build. The art will be the centerpiece of Rain Tower Plaza adjacent to Market Hall and The Ribbon ice skating trail in phase two of Glass City Metropark.
The sculptures will spray water to form a splash pad in warm months, while a fire pit in winter will provide a warming station for ice skaters.
"Rain Towers' dark bronze beams echo the building, though their design is culled from the city itself," according to the artists' statement. It includes design elements inspired by the nearby bridge trusses and the iconic cut glass geometric patterns made world famous by Libbey Glass.
"Not only will this financial contribution go a long way toward transforming our riverfront, but Greater Toledo Community Foundation's support will most certainly give weight to the significance of what we are doing here," said Fritz Byers, vice-president of the Board of Park Commissioner.
The first phase of Glass City Metropark opened in 2020, and phase 2 will open in June. The new park on the east side of the Maumee River will be the hub of Glass City Riverwalk, which will consist of 300 acres of greenspace and a five-mile continuous path on both sides of the river from the Veterans Glass City Skyway to the Anthony Wayne Bridge.
Construction is now underway for the first legs of Riverwalk, from the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge to the The Docks restaurant complex in International Park on the east side, and from the bridge to Fort Industry Square on the downtown side.
"Since 1973, Greater Toledo Community Foundation has made it possible for generous people to donate gifts in any amount to projects that make the Toledo area better," said Dave Zenk, executive director of Metroparks Toledo. "Their involvement in this project will help make a lasting difference in the six neighborhoods that Riverwalk will connect, as well as the region as a whole as we create the finest riverfront park in the country."
A partnership between the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) and Greater Toledo Community Foundation (GTCF) will increase mobility, employment and recreation options for Toledo-area youth this summer by providing free rides on TARTA.
TARTA’s Youth Summer Blast Pass Program has received a $50,000 donation from GTCF to fund 2,000 passes that youth ages 6-19 can use to ride TARTA’s fixed-route system for free in June, July and August.
“For five decades, the focus of this organization has been making things better for our community,” said Greater Toledo Community Foundation President Keith Burwell. “Working with TARTA on this program, we will be able to provide transportation for those who need it the most and help our youth take advantage of everything northwest Ohio has to offer in the summer months.
“Our young people face so many challenges on a daily basis,” Burwell continued. “Removing the barrier of cost of transportation for those who don’t have access to a car is going to make a difference in what their options are for the summer months in terms of work or recreation. This is something we’re very happy to be a part of.”
Burwell was joined by TARTA CEO Laura Koprowski, Washington Local Schools Superintendent Dr. Kadee Anstadt and Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Romules Durant for Wednesday’s press conference at the Whitmer High School Field House in Toledo.
The grant is part of GTCF’s 50th anniversary celebration, which is highlighting a donation of $50,000 or more to a community organization each month throughout 2023.
In coming years, the Youth Summer Blast Pass will provide unlimited transportation on TARTA’s fixed route buses all summer for $25. The process for applying for and receiving one of the passes will be announced by TARTA in the next few weeks.
“We are proud of the many exciting partnerships we have been able to develop with community organizations in this area, and of the benefits those partnerships have delivered to the people who depend on public transportation,” Koprowski said. “Greater Toledo Community Foundation has been the standard for philanthropy in northwest Ohio for 50 years. I want to thank Keith Burwell and his team for their hard work on this and so many other projects, and for valuing the youth of our community by helping them get to jobs, athletic fields, medical appointments, and other essential destinations.
“Getting the young people of Lucas County and Rossford where they need to go safely is something TARTA takes very seriously. We are thrilled about the possibilities of this program and look forward to it becoming a staple of our services for years to come.”