Connected Communities Grant will support new transportation options, programs for residents to visit City of Boston’s 20 Main Streets Districts

BOSTON – Friday, May 4, 2018 – Mayor Walsh and the Boston Main Streets Foundation today announced the release of the Connected Communities Exploration Grant, a joint effort focused on creating innovative ways to support local businesses and business districts by increasing connectivity between neighborhoods with both innovative programming and expanded transportation options. The grant, offered by the Boston Main Streets Foundation in collaboration with the Mayor’s Offices of Economic Development and New Urban Mechanics, is part of a suite of challenge grants and builds upon the successful Main Streets Explorer pilot program that provided a trolley between Roslindale, Hyde Park and West Roxbury business districts this past December.

“I am excited to work with the Boston Main Streets Foundation to foster new and creative ways to bring more patrons to the small businesses in our neighborhoods, and provide transportation options to easily connect residents with all that our business districts have to offer,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Through these grants, partnerships will be formed throughout Boston’s neighborhood commercial districts, allowing for increased visibility and year-round support for Boston’s small businesses to thrive.”

Over the 2017 winter holidays, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, and three Boston Main Streets organizations partnered with the Boston Main Streets Foundation to pilot a free shuttle service between Roslindale, Hyde Park, and West Roxbury. For this particular pilot run, the Main Streets Explorer took the form of a trolley-style shuttle and was fitted with holiday decorations and lights, and stopped at central locations on Main Streets every Thursday for a month. Games, snacks, blankets, and discounts at local businesses were offered to encourage families to ride and explore. The Main Streets Explorer was an experiment in how to support neighborhood connection — a goal the Connected Communities Grant builds upon.

“The Foundation is extremely pleased to be working with the Mayor’s Offices of New Urban Mechanics and Economic Development to introduce a broader cross-section of Boston residents and visitors to our wonderful and diverse Main Streets Districts,” said Foundation President Joel Sklar. “In every corner of this city, there are commercial districts and plazas teeming with the creativity and culture that makes Boston truly unique.”

The Connected Communities grant offers a total of up to $50,000 to support (1) complementary and progressive programming between two to three Districts, and (2) design and operation of a Main Streets Explorer. This grant is intended to make neighborhood exploration easier and more accessible, connect residents and deepen their understanding of the city and all it offers, and spur economic growth within Boston’s small business community.

The Main Streets Foundation and the City of Boston is committed to supporting Boston Main Streets exploration, strategies, and programs. With coordinated programming between Main

Streets Districts and thoughtful transportation, the Main Streets Foundation and City of Boston hope to enable exploration, connection, and investment in neighborhoods across Boston.

About the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development The Economic Development Cabinet’s mission is to make Boston an appealing and accessible place for working families, entrepreneurs, businesses, and investors to innovate, grow, and thrive in a way that fosters inclusion, broadens opportunity, and shares prosperity, thereby enhancing the quality of life for all Bostonians and the experience for all visitors. Learn more on their website.

Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics As the City’s civic research and development team, the New Urban Mechanics pilot experiments that aim to improve the quality of life for Boston’s residents. The team’s Third Spaces work, supported by a Bloomberg Philanthropies i-Teams grant, is working to make Boston’s spaces more welcoming, connected, and creative.

About Boston Main Streets Developed out of a partnership between the City of Boston and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Boston Main Streets initiative was created in 1995 as the first urban, multi-district Main Streets program in the nation, with the goal of establishing thriving commercial districts throughout the city. Boston Main Streets is a successful model for urban commercial district revitalization that strengthens local business districts through strong organizational development, community participation, resident and merchant education and sustainable development. Boston Main Streets continues to empower individuals in the small business sector to have a direct role in the economic health, physical appearance, and development of their own community.

About the Boston Main Streets Foundation The Boston Main Streets Foundation is committed to making Boston’s neighborhood commercial districts thriving, vibrant centers of commerce and community through its support of the Boston Main Streets program. The Boston Main Streets Foundation seeks to develop long-term strategies to increase the economic power and resources of neighborhood commercial districts while pursuing initiatives that build knowledge and capacity for Main Streets programs and the businesses they serve.