City offering $2.15M in grants to activate neighborhoods, increase foot traffic, and boost small businesses  

American Rescue Plan Act funds to be awarded from $20,000 to $200,000  for grassroots activation events, placemaking, and beautification  
DENVER – August 2, 2022 – By investing $2.15M of federal pandemic recovery dollars into Denver’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, Denver Economic Development & Opportunity (DEDO) hopes to encourage people to eat and shop locally, support neighborhood businesses, and help boost ongoing grassroots revitalization. The city’s latest grant program is now accepting applications from businesses, nonprofits, and community groups to award between $20,000 and $200,000 for qualified activities.    “While Denver’s economic recovery is encouraging overall, too many small businesses continue to face challenges bouncing back after more than two years of loss and uncertainty,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “Disparities of opportunity continue to hamper the vibrancy of our priority neighborhoods, so we’re excited to extend this call for applicants for both businesses and nonprofits to propose a wide range of business-building activation and beautification ideas to help boost the local economy.”    NEWSED Community Development Corporation, a local nonprofit with experience solving long-term economic problems in underserved communities, is helping DEDO promote the grant opportunity, coach applicants, evaluate projects, and distribute the funds. Eligibility is defined the city’s Recovery Index Map with a score equal to or less than 0.89 and includes the priority neighborhoods of East Colfax, Globeville, Elyria-Swansea, Montbello, Northeast Park Hill, Sun Valley, Valverde, West Colfax, Westwood, and Villa Park.    Funded projects are expected to serve historically marginalized populations including communities of color, older adults, people experiencing poverty or homelessness, formerly incarcerated people, immigrants and refugees, people with disabilities, veterans, or LGBTQ+ residents. 
“We are encouraging applications that bring the community together, improve the sense of connectivity, and ultimately stimulate the local economy,” said DEDO Executive Director Jen Morris. “We’re seeking innovative ideas for neighborhood events, placemaking, and physical improvements such as public art exhibitions, landscaping, patio expansion, business wayfinding, and retail area upgrades such as banners, lighting, and improved accessibility.”    The program is on a fast track. Applications for grants are open now, are due by August 25, and expected to be delivered by year end. The program budget is from Denver’s allocation of federal American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds.    “A local neighborhood event or celebration, an area beautification project, or improved signage are all ways to generate a sense of well-being and welcoming engagement between residents,” said Cecilia Cervantes, grant manager at NEWSED. “I don’t think you can put a price on that. And encouraging people to shop and eat with local businesses is essentially an endless loop of giving–a way for people to invest right back into their own neighborhoods.” 

Qualified uses of funds for neighborhood activation include events, workshops, performances, walking tours, or festivals, all of which can attract visitors and economic activity along business corridors. This grant is not available to individuals or families, endowments, political campaigns, or projects that only benefit one business versus a shared business corridor or area.  

About Denver Economic Development & Opportunity Denver Economic Development & Opportunity works to ensure an inclusive and innovative economy for all Denver residents, businesses, and neighborhoods. Learn more at development.

About the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA)  Denver’s plan for recovery includes direct distribution of $308M in ARPA  Local Relief Funds. Denver offers a dashboard to show precisely how ARPA funds are being deployed to support the mayor’s priority of Rebuilding for an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy (RISE) and a Recovery Index to demonstrate how our neighborhoods are recovering.