Image: Downtown Pullman Association’s new Executive Director Holly Greystone on the move as a rainbow breaks through the clouds over downtown.

By Jonelle McCoy, Main Street Specialist, Washington State Main Street Program

We’re celebrating a special anniversary this summer! The Affiliate Capacity Building Grant Program is one year through its two-year pilot, and so much has happened. The four inaugural awardees utilized nearly $130,000 in capacity-building efforts ranging from establishing new nonprofits to take the helm of downtown revitalization efforts to hiring staff to lead existing Main Street organizations alongside their boards.

“This investment in Main Street Affiliates will strengthen their organizations and positively impact their communities,” said Breanne Durham, Washington Main Street Director with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. “We have seen time and time again that people are the power behind locally driven revitalization efforts, and a dedicated staff member can be transformative.” 

The pilot grant program was established in spring 2021 by the state legislature to provide the financial spark needed to fund a staff position that many Main Street Affiliates, especially in rural areas, find a challenge to meet when their volunteer boards are working at capacity on downtown revitalization. Awardees used grant funds on hiring and staffing costs as well as other capacity-building needs. Additionally, awardees received support services from the Washington State Main Street Program (WSMSP) designed to increase their readiness for leading a search and hiring process through onboarding and to help lay the foundation for the new director’s success as leader, manager, and executer of work. 

“What we’ve already received from WSMSP has been consistently positive and encouraging. Not once have we ever heard from staff that we are too small or too far gone or too rural,” noted inaugural awardee LaCrosse Community Pride. “Having them rally and cheer us on has been invaluable!” 

Though their revitalization work had already made a strong impact in their town, the hiring of their executive director brought additional focus and capacity that allowed LaCrosse Community Pride to apply for and successfully reach Main Street Community designation. Likewise, the Ferndale Downtown Association and Downtown Pullman Association were able to hire executive directors, and the City of Buckley successfully supported the creation of the Buckley Downtown Association. We can’t wait to see what we’ll be celebrating another year from now! 

LaCrosse Community Pride’s Executive Director Sarah Kane (left) talks to Inland Helicopters pilot Amy Hartt after a day of flights to Palouse Falls as part of LaCrosse Farmers Fest.
Classic cars along Main Street next to LaCrosse Town Park.
Executive Director Holly Greystone in front of Downtown Pullman Association’s new office space.

Read the Fiscal Year 2022 report for the Main Street Affiliate Capacity Building Grant Program:

The Washington State Main Street Program (WSMSP) is a program of the Washington State Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation, managed under contract by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. WSMSP represents a diversity of 66 small towns and major cities across the state. 

For more information, please contact Breanne Durham, Washington Main Street Director at the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, at bd*****@pr********.org or 206-624-9449.