Destination Downtown Grant

HDR is dedicated to making downtown a destination that attracts residents and visitors throughout the year. We want you to join us in this effort! Do you have an idea that you’ve always wanted to do that would bring people downtown to see or experience it? Do you enjoy brainstorming ways to facilitate genuine interactions among community members and create unique experiences? If so, this is the grant for you!

  • What is it: A new HDR grant initiative funded by the Friendly City Fortune
  • How much is available: $20,000 – the number of grants awarded and their amounts will vary depending on the applications received
  • Who’s eligible: Community members, organizations, and businesses
  • What projects are eligible: We’re keeping this flexible. They can be physical projects like art, pop-up parks, a pollinator demonstration garden, etc. Or they can be events or activities like mini-concerts, workshops, scavenger hunts, tours, lectures, or some kind of entertainment or educational opportunity. See our inspirational ideas below or check out our Pinterest page to share your ideas and interact with others.

Downtown Harrisonburg is where connections happen – both the streets and businesses play a vital role in animating the social, cultural, and economic life of our community. Our goal is to add to the vitality of downtown and offer more things to see, do, and experience. We want to see ideas that highlight the unique character of our community, encourages connections and genuine interactions among people, and makes downtown look cooler and more fun to spend time in!

2019-2020 Grant Cycle

Application available: April 2019

Info Session: May 15, 2019 RSVP
Letter of Intent: June 21, 2019
Submit by Email to Lauren Huber.
Simply provide your name, contact information, project idea description, partners (if any), list of permits or permissions required.
This is meant to be short and sweet to give us an idea of what you’d like to do and to help you think through logistics and creative elements.
We’ll probably have some feedback for you and may request to set up a meeting.

Application Deadline: August 23, 2019
Finalists Announced: Week of September 16, 2019
Project Completion: Prior to December 31, 2020

See the full list of 2018 Destination Downtown Grant recipients.

Read all of the applicant eligibility, project scope and criteria, application information and conditions below prior to submitting your application.

Inquiries / Questions:
Email Andrea Dono or Lauren Huber

Want to see how past grant recipients have transformed Downtown? Read their stories on our blog:
HMTA’s Inaugural Play-A-Thon
Massanutten Regional Library’s StoryWalk
Historic Graffiti and the Harrisonburg Homes Team

Inspirational Images:

The Fine Print:

  • Community members, organizations, and downtown businesses are eligible to apply. High school students are encouraged to apply but must indicate that they are working with a teacher, club or organization, or family member or guardian. College students are also encouraged to apply and should indicate if they are working with a professor or class on the proposed project idea.
  • The proposed project must be open to the public.
  • The proposed project must take place within the Downtown District Map. The project can happen wherever you have permission to do it – inside a business, on a building, outside of a building, at Turner Pavilion, etc. If you wish to activate a public space in some way, you must discuss the project with city staff and receive all necessary permits and permission to move forward. If you wish to plan an event downtown or rent the Turner Pavilion, you must submit a separate event application.
  • The proposed project must be completed by December 31, 2020.
  • Submit an Email of Intent to Lauren Huber with your project idea any time before June 21, 2019.
    • Simply provide your name, contact information, project idea description, partners (if any), list of permits or permissions required. This is meant to be short and sweet to give us an idea of what you’d like to do and to help you think through logistics and creative elements. We’ll probably have some feedback for you and may request to set up a meeting.
  • Applications do not require a financial or in-kind match; but matches only help, not hurt, applications.
  • Applications and all required attachments must be received electronically by COB August 23, 2019. Late or incomplete applications and those that were submitted without first submitting a Letter of Intent may not be accepted.

HDR is available to offer advice and feedback on your ideas. Have a great idea but not sure where you can do it? Love an idea but need some help brainstorming partners? Unsure of where to go to research city permits? Want to add something cool to an existing activity or event and need a connection? We want you to succeed and will provide assistance where we can but we are not available to plan or implement the project for you.

Grantee Agreement: Each project award will require a Memo of Understanding that outlines project requirements, budget, and timeline. Where applicable, it will also specify:

  • Grantee must be willing to engage in local media opportunities, including a celebratory project reveal event.
  • Grantee must attribute HDR as the source of the grant when discussing the project.
  • Grantee will sign a waiver releasing HDR of any liability.
  • Grantee will obtain all appropriate insurance with sufficient coverage levels.
  • Grantee will track the number of hours volunteers work on the project (if applicable).
  • Each MOU will provide HDR with the right to rescind the grant and terminate its commitment if Grantee fails to timely perform its agreed obligations.
  • Reimbursements: Grant money will be a reimbursement for incurred costs. When possible, grantees will receive reimbursement upon completion of the project but if upfront costs are necessary to make the project happen, receipts can be submitted for reimbursement when costs are incurred. If the grantee requests the latter, a tentative reimbursement schedule will be negotiated between the grantee and HDR after the grant award has been announced.
  • Reporting: Grantees will be asked to submit a final summary report. Format and further instructions will be provided to grantees.
    • Grantees will be required to provide HDR with periodic status update check-ins that will align with their Project Action Plan and Timelines, which are required with each application. If applicable, this check-in may include photographs to demonstrate progress. If the grantee is not following its action plan and missing its deadlines, HDR reserves the right to rescind the grant at any time and is not responsible for reimbursing any costs incurred by the grantee.
    • Grantees must provide a final report that provides a summary of the project, statement of how the grantee felt it met goals, volunteer hours (if applicable), participation and attendance (if applicable), and other metrics to be decided upon execution the grant agreement. Metrics are not intended to be cumbersome or difficult to obtain or track.

Exclusions: Grant funds shall not be awarded or applied to pay for:

  • Operational costs or overhead
  • Product marketing
  • Loans
  • Building maintenance or improvements
  • Staff time to plan or implement the project (if the applicant is a business or organization)

All decisions are entirely in discretion of the HDR Board, grant selection panel, and staff members, who are free to base decisions on whatever factors and criteria it deems appropriate regardless of whether it is listed on the application and to weight various factors as it sees fit.  

Preference will be given to projects that fall within one or more categories:

Creating a Destination

  • Public Art/Placemaking: Add vibrancy and activity to public spaces, bringing new life and interest to a neglected or underutilized area.
  • Experiential: The project will have some element of interactivity. This can take the form of an event or experience. Perhaps some kind of engagement of the senses. For example, if it is a sculpture, allow people to climb on it and make it fun to post on social media.
  • Fun Factor: The project will inspire fun and excitement. It will be something that people enjoy and are drawn to. It makes people say, “wow!” It should inspire wonderment, joy, a connection to the community.

Supporting Local

  • Interactive Experience: Workshops, events, and experiences where local businesses or organizations can share their expertise.
  • Unique Landmark: Add a unique feature to your building or public space that will draw people in, and encourage people to travel here to see or experience it.
  • Public and Noticeable: The project will be open and accessible to the public.
  • Friend of Downtown: Active membership isn’t a requirement for grant applications, but we may give preference to Friends of Downtown who help make our work sustainable.

Celebrating Community

  • Events: If the project is an event or program, it will create an enjoyable experience and represent Harrisonburg’s unique qualities.
  • Suggested Themes: Recreation, food, welcoming, education, local history, arts and culture, connection to the outdoors.
  • Inclusive: Welcoming to all community members who will be able to participate or engage with your project.

Building Downtown Together

  • Community Involvement: Where applicable, include an opportunity for volunteers to participate or give feedback on your project.
  • Partnership: Work with existing organizations or businesses who may have the talent and resources you need to make your project successful.
  • Sustainability: If the project is a physical project, will it be maintained over time? If it is an event or festival, is there a plan to continue beyond the one year of the grant funding? If it is a long-term project what is the strategy keeping it operational?

To submit your application electronically, click on the “Apply Now” button at the top of the page. We provide the application questions below to help you prepare your answers prior to submitting the application.

Tell us about your project. Get us excited & show that you can pull this off!

  1. Description, purpose, scope, and expertise or skills you or your team has to implement the project:
  2. How or why would this project draw people downtown?
  3. Who is your target audience?
  4. Do you have team members? If yes, please describe who they are and what they will be doing.
  5. Do you have partners for this project? If so, please explain who they are and what they will be doing. (Partnerships are not required for this grant.)
  6. What is your inspiration for this project/how did you come up with the idea/why is it important to you?
  7. Have you, your business or organization, or partners done this project before or is it something new?
  8. Describe the sustainability of the project – is it temporary, permanent, ongoing, or a one-time occurrence? If ongoing or permanent, how will it be maintained? If temporary, describe the removal process and timeline.

Marketing and outreach:

  1. How do you plan to attract your targeted audience to participate in or engage with your project?


  1. Where is this project planned to take place?
  2. Whose property will it be on?
  3. Is this your property or do you have permission from the property owner (if the latter, you will need to submit documentation to show you have permission)?
  4. Does your project require permits? If so, list each permit here.


  1. What is the total cost of the project?
  2. How much grant money are you requesting?
  3. Do you intend to ask for reimbursement for your grant upon completion of the project or do you intend to ask for a periodic reimbursements plan as costs are incurred?
  4. List additional funds and/or in-kind support, if applicable?
  5. Is this grant going to be used to support a required match for another grant? If so, please name the grant and indicate if it has already been secured.
  6. If HDR can only partially fund your grant request, will you still be able to move forward with your project? If so, explain how. Your response could include changing the scope of your project, soliciting other funds, or reducing the scale of your project.

Supporting documents:

  1. Submit your budget (required)
  2. Submit your action plan and timeline identifying major tasks from start to completion (required)
  3. Submit a letter stating permission from the property owner (if applicable)
  4. Submit any drawings, illustrations, site plans, or other supporting documents (if applicable)

This award program is subject to change or cancellation at any time by a vote of the HDR Destination Downtown Selection Committee. In addition, any policy or procedure described herein may be waived by official action of this same committee. HDR reserves the right to reject any and/or all applications.

I have read, understand and will comply with the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance Destination Downtown Grant criteria, timeline and application form included herein, and I certify that the above information is true and correct to the best of my knowledge. I hereby acknowledge my application for a grant, and do authorize Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance to obtain verifications from any source named in this application.