Main Street Planning Grants

Washington Main Street Planning Grants are designed to build capacity for WMS Communities by offering specialized planning services. Main Street Communities can apply from a menu of planning services offered by professional planners with experience working with Main Street programs.

Applications for the 2024 cycle are due by Friday, September 8 at 5 p.m. We will announce awards in early October, with consultations likely starting in January and concluding no later than June 30, 2024.

Available Grants

We’re offering six types of planning grants for the 2024 cycle. You can read more about each of these grants below. Chosen grantees will be matched with a consultant who best fits their individual organization’s needs.

  • Capacity Building
  • 90-Day Place Activation
  • Economic Vitality
  • Climate Resiliency
  • Strategy Identification

As we wait to hear about our own grant funding, we may not be able to offer as many grants as we have in the past, and we’ve shifted to a sliding-scale funding option as you’ll see below. We encourage you to apply for whichever grant or grants are a good fit for your Main Street right now with a readiness to discuss funding options should you receive a grant.

About the Grants

Capacity Building

Organizational stability is the backbone of any impactful Main Street initiative. This planning grant, which is designed for current Washington Main Street Affiliates, will offer expert consultation and guidance to nonprofit organizations in their catalyst phase focused on leadership development, community engagement and visioning, work planning and committee structure, staff hiring and onboarding, and more core organizational functions.

Applicants may request 65% to 75% of the total project cost of $12,000, receiving up to a maximum of $9,000 in grant funding.

90-day Place Activation Initiative

The design of public spaces (e.g., streets, parks, plazas) directly impacts and influences the economic vitality, quality of place, access, and the livelihood or ‘staying power’ of Main Streets. The 90-Day Planning Grant allows for facilitated workshops to help WA Main Street Programs advance a place vision and change strategy by taking incremental steps to public realm design. Working with a consultant through a two-part training over a span of 3 months, the 90-Day Place Activation Planning Grant allows for WMS Communities to assemble a team and work toward a 90-day plan to execute a place activation initiative of their choosing for their downtown district.

The grant is focused on leadership development, partnership development, actionable strategies, and early successes. Virtual coaching, over three months, will help your group develop a 90-day Place Activation Vision, Implementation Plan, and Place Stewardship (management) Framework as you engage in workshops on visioning, goal setting, and developing actionable strategies; defining team roles and delegating work; navigating design, communications, community participation, and policy and permitting; readying for the roll out. The project lead will be supported with ongoing email communications.

Read about past Place Activation grant projects here, and download the Place Activation resource guide for more information.

This grant provides $5,000 in technical assistance, with grantees covering the cost of the local place activation project (projects can range from $2,500 to $15,000).

Economic Vitality Grants

Recognizing that each Main Street organization is at a different place in their Economic Vitality journey, our EV grant is tailored to each community.

For those looking to deepen their EV work, a 3-month market study grant will help you dig into demographic, psychographic and retail sales gap data in your downtown, including designing and reviewing customer and business surveys, facilitating local planning sessions, and defining a cohesive and actionable EV plan.

For those ready to take the next step, a 3-to-4-month recruiting grant will help communities, organizations, and economic development professionals create, fine-tune, or take the scope of their business retention, development, and recruitment efforts to a new level. Services include a mix of local research activities, technical assistance, and training to position local Main Street staff and leaders for business development and recruitment success.

Revisit slides about these services from Stephanie’s Summer Leadership Meeting presentation here, and check out the outcomes here and here.

Applicants may request 65% to 75% of the total project cost of approximately $10,000 (depending on the exact services), receiving up to a maximum of $7,500 in grant funding.

Climate Resiliency

This opportunity aims to use Main Street’s natural role as a convener to bring community members together to mitigate the impacts of climate change on our downtowns—whether coastal communities impacted by king tides, rising sea levels, and flooding, or inland communities facing air quality concerns caused by wildfires. By engaging with a consultant specialized in the intersection of cultural and environmental work, this planning process is designed to assist and prepare you community to meet these challenges, including preservation of buildings and other local resources, small business support, and communications.

Applicants may request 65% to 75% of the total project cost of $20,000, receiving up to a maximum of $15,000 in grant funding.

Strategy Identification

Modeled after Main Street America’s “refreshed” approach, our Strategy Identification grant will support you in developing a concise strategic plan or strategic framework grounded in one or two custom strategies. Working with a consultant over the span of 6 months, you’ll engage in ongoing meetings as a steering committee, arrange focus groups, co-develop and publicize a community survey ⁠— all with the end result of a community-minded strategic plan to guide your next 3-5 years. Each committee member can expect to put in 11 hours throughout the project, with a higher time investment from the project lead.

Check out the strategic plan the Stevenson Downtown Association made with the help of our 2022 planning grants here.

Applicants may request 65% to 75% of the total project cost of approximately $20,000, receiving up to a maximum of $15,000 in grant funding. (Note: Grantees may opt to pay for additional services, including stakeholder interviews and design of a public-facing plan and communication materials.)

Grantee Requirements

  • Designation as a Washington Main Street with experience utilizing the Main Street Approach
  • An identified project lead, ideally someone who is not the Executive Director
  • Commitment from the local planning team to participate fully for the duration of the planning timeline
  • Secured grantee share of service cost as outlined above
  • Capacity to collect relevant qualitative and quantitative data on impact of service, including collecting pre- and post-services data and completing a post-services report for Washington Main Street
  • Willingness for Washington Main Street to utilize services outcome (plan or project case study) for statewide learning


Please use the Save-and-Continue feature at your own risk and for same-day submissions only. Generated links sent to your email expire after 30 days and are not reliable in storing your answers and attachments. We encourage you to review the entire application, prepare your submission in your own text document and file folder, before finally submitting your answers and attachments in the online form above.