Van Ness Main Street (VNMS) is a community-based nonprofit organization that works with residents and local businesses to strengthen the economic vitality of Van Ness, Forest Hills, and Wakefield serving the Connecticut Avenue corridor from Van Ness Street to Nebraska Avenue. Van Ness is a unique neighborhood, combining the convenience of Metro access and urban amenities, with the beauty and serenity of Soapstone Valley and Rock Creek Park. The corridor includes both a neighborhood retail center and a regional institutional cluster. Our mission is to make Van Ness a beautiful, sustainable, walkable, and vibrant economic and cultural hub by supporting the growth of existing businesses, attracting new, local enterprises, and activating our local cultural institutions.
As a Main Street AmericaTM Accredited program, VNMS is a recognized leading program among the national network of more than 1,200 neighborhoods and communities who share both a commitment to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. VNMS is an officially recognized DC Main Streets program that is funded in part by the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development.
The 2021 VNMS Small Business Equity Grant Program will provide grants of up to $4,000 to a small woman- or minority-owned businesses located within the VNMS corridor. Grant funds may be used for: exterior renovations and storefront improvements; security upgrades; and select hard and soft costs to support business resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Applications are due by December 7, 2020. Grant awards will be announced on December 18, 2020. All funded projects must be completed no later than June 30, 2021.
- Application Process
Applications are available starting November 15, 2020.
All applications must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, December 7, 2020.
Applicants will be notified of their award status by Friday, December 18, 2020.
All awards are contingent on approval by VNMS and the availability of funds. Submission of an application does not constitute an agreement to issue a grant award. VNMS reserves the right to amend this announcement and program description subsequent to its issuance.
All required documentation listed in the application must be submitted for the application to be considered complete. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. VNMS will evaluate applications and determine eligibility based solely on the documents provided by the applicant(s) and the availability of funds. Information provided as a part of this grant application shall only be used in evaluating the proposed project. The information will not be made public nor shared with any government entity.
Applications should be submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org. If an applicant is unable to submit their application electronically for any reason, they should contact VNMS at email@example.com prior to the application deadline. VNMS will make all reasonable accommodations for businesses unable to submit online.
- Applicant Eligibility
To qualify for a grant, the applicant must:
- Be incorporated in the District of Columbia as demonstrated by a current business license.
- Be a for-profit entity; non-profit organizations are not eligible.
- Have a physical presence located within the boundaries of VNMS from Van Ness Main Street to Nebraska Avenue. Businesses whose operations and/or sales transactions for the exchange of goods and services are conducted solely online are not eligible.
- Have at least 3 years left in their lease, verified by submitting a copy of the lease (please contact us if you are on a month-to-month lease currently). For businesses that own their own property, please provide proof of ownership.
- Submit a complete application and all required supporting materials by the deadline of December 7, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.
The following types of businesses are not eligible to receive grant funding:
- Gas stations or automotive repair
- Banks or other financial services
- Home-based businesses
- National chains or regional chains with more than 5 locations
- Seasonal businesses
- Any organization that discriminates against individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, political affiliation, physical handicap, or any other protected class under the DC Human Rights Act and/or any federal anti-discrimination statute or regulation
- Churches and nonprofit organizations
- District of Columbia government agencies
- Project Eligibility
Businesses that meet the eligibility criteria above may apply for a small business grant for the following:
- Façade and storefront improvements, including repair or replacement of glass, woodwork, masonry, or other façade components; repair or replacement of doors and/or windows; exterior painting; exterior lighting for business signs or that is integral to the façade of the commercial building.
- Repair or installation of an awning if there is demonstrated environmental or aesthetic need that makes an awning a better choice than a business sign. If there is no business sign, the awning must have the name of the business and street number imprinted on the canvas.
- Signage, including signs, mounting brackets and other hardware, and/or window lettering. Sign text must include the business name; additional text must be approved by VNMS.
- Security cameras, including installation and equipment. Applicants who receive funding for security systems must apply for the DC Private Security Camera Rebate Program to receive up to a $750 rebate on equipment costs. Information on the rebate program is available online at https://ovsjg.dc.gov/page/private-security-camera-rebate-program Applicants should verify that their security equipment meets the rebate program’s criteria. VNMS can assist grant recipients in completing the rebate application.
- COVID-19 business resilience support, which may include:
- personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees, including but not limited to masks, gloves, plexiglass partitions, and hand sanitizing stations
- expenses to pivot to e-commerce, including point-of-sale integration with online sales systems, website upgrades, and up to 1-year of website hosting costs if associated with online sales
- equipment or furniture for a DC government approved streatery, sidewalk café, or summer garden, including tents, chairs, tables, partitions, heaters, and signage
- equipment purchases or retrofits to upgrade HVAC systems
- up to 6 months of delivery fees levied by mobile delivery services, e.g. Uber Eats, DoorDash, Grub Hub, etc. Fees must be incurred after October 1, 2020; proof of payment will be required.
The small business grants may not be used for design costs, permit fees, maintenance, loan interest, or any work that is not specified in the work order submitted with the application.
Each applicant and grant recipient is responsible for determining DC government permit and/or licensing requirements and obtaining required permissions prior to beginning any project funded through this program.
Grant awards shall not exceed $4,000 per business.
November 15, 2020 2021 TMS Small Business Grants Application released
December 7, 2020 Applications due by 5:00 p.m.
December 18, 2020 Grant awards announced
By December 31, 2020 Grant funds disbursed
By June 30, 2021 Funded projects must be completed
By July 30, 2021 Grantee final reports submitted to VNMS
All funds must be expended and reported with documentation submitted to VNMS within 30 days of project completed and not later than Friday, July 30, 2021. Grantees shall submit a report to VNMS that includes:
- Brief description of completed project.
- Copies of receipts, cancelled checks, and/or paid invoices for all grant expenditures.
- If applicable: Before and After photos of improvements funded by the grant.
- If applicable: Copies of any documents or materials developed with grant funds.
Any funds not expended as described in the grantee’s agreement with VNMS and/or not fully expended by June 30, 2021, must be returned to VNMS.
- Contact Information
Businesses interested in learning more about the grant program or with questions about how to make storefront or other business improvements may contact VNMS at 202-421-7825 or firstname.lastname@example.org.