The East Hills Council of Neighbors was founded in 1980 to affect positive change in an area of the city that had seen massive decline and disinvestment. East Hills Council of Neighbors is a catalyst for neighborhood renewal through effective, grassroots community organizing. Since its beginning the organization has worked on crime prevention, community building and home ownership initiatives.
The East Hills Council of Neighbors claims East Hills as "the 'Greenest' neighborhood in Grand Rapids and maybe the whole Midwest". Examples of the environmentally-aware practices of the neighborhood include: Energy Star homes, LEED Certified commercial buildings, vegetative roofs, “Green” powered homes, homes and businesses using CFLs, xeriscaped yards, rain gardens, bio-diesel vehicles and much more. In 2006 two major projects continued East Hills's commitment to environmental sustainability: Trees Please & DEQ Storm Water abatement grant. Trees Please planted 29 trees and set up a plan to conduct tree surveys, plant and maintain trees, and educated residents over the next fours years. The DEQ Storm Water grant has included the development of permeable asphalt parking lot on Diamond and monitoring systems to record the benefits of vegetative roofs.
East Hills has seen great deal of development and is carefully planning for more. Advocacy efforts at the Historic Preservation Commission, Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals have assured that proposed developments meet neighborhood criteria. In 2007 the Wealthy Heights initiative has grown legs and is moving rapidly forward to create the first Community Land Trust in Grand Rapids. The neighborhood's project partner—Dwelling Place—has secured property and is currently pursuing funding. The Wealthy Heights Advisory Committee is planning for a community design charrette for the summer of 2007.
In 2006–2007 East Hills hosted several community events including: Chester Street Fire Station Open House, Garagefest, Bastille Day, and Beers of the World. In 2007 the Artist Market returns to East Hills under the moniker of the “Hand Made Market” on June 23.
One of the Council's biggest and longest standing efforts involves building relationships to better the neighborhood. East Hills is an information clearinghouse for residents, businesses, and developers. On a daily basis the Council takes calls ranging from housing issues to business development information. The Council continues to build and maintain relationships with the City, funders, community members and businesses. The Council maintains a dialogue with elected officials and city management to ensure city policy is aligned with community needs and desires.