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Neighborhood Challenge

Innovation Through Competition

The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS), along with partners New York City Economic Development Corporation and New York City Business Assistance Corporation, are proud to offer the Neighborhood Challenge Innovation Grant competition! Neighborhood Challenge grants support innovative and catalytic projects that solve small business challenges, generate community and economic impacts, and receive local recognition upon implementation. The competition seeks to make multiple investments of up to $100,000 in community-based development organizations that spark new ideas and approaches to common neighborhood and commercial corridor issues.

Congratulations to this year's winners!


No Longer Empty in partnership with South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBro) – Melrose / Morrisania
No Longer Empty in partnership with the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBro) will open the vacant Old Bronx Borough Courthouse up to the community as it awaits a permanent tenant, and activate the space as a cultural hub to promote local artists.

Neighborhood Plaza Partnership in partnership with South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBro) – Mott Haven
The Neighborhood Plaza Partnership’s project called "Pop-Up Concession Revenues" at Roberto Clemente Plaza in Mott Haven will develop a “best practice” for concessions-based revenue generation in public plazas in partnership with SoBro.


AIGA/NY in partnership with Local Development Corporation of East New York – East New York
AIGA/NY in partnership with the Local Development Corporation of East New York will use design concepts to improve the community’s sense of place, and also empower local businesses by providing them with the design tools they need to prepare and benefit from the urban transformation expected in the neighborhood.

Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation – Red Hook
Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation will undertake an in-depth real estate development and marketing plan for an underutilized lot and storm-impacted parcel in a part of Red Hook that has seen minimal investment. This study will specifically investigate the development of a multi-storied light manufacturing center that could include shared work and incubator space.


Lower East Side Business Improvement District – Lower East Side
In Manhattan, the Lower East Side Business Improvement District will launch “100 Gates” to connect merchants with street artists to create temporary mural installations on the roll down security storefront security gates. Graffiti is an issue plaguing many commercial corridors in NYC, and this initiative will reduce illegal graffiti by beautifying the neighborhood and creating a proverbial outdoor gallery throughout the Lower East Side.


Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District – Jamaica
In Jamaica, Queens, the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District will commence a Façade Improvement project within the framework of the BID's recently developed storefront guidelines that will alter the appearance of five contiguous properties on Sutphin Blvd. These improvements will increase patronage and provide a more attractive, consistent, and welcoming environment for consumers.

Staten Island

Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership – Stapleton
In Staten Island, the Illuminate Stapleton project by the Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership will produce a year-long series of light-based art activities and installations along a one-mile corridor between Stapleton and Tompkinsville. The project will help define the neighborhood and bring together a wider network of local businesses, residents, artists, and community organizations to help strengthen the commercial.

Business Improvement District (BID):

  • Incorporated BIDs located in New York City with an annual assessment less than or equal to $2,000,000.
  • Demonstrated timely submission of audited financial statements and annual reports to SBS in the previous fiscal year.

Community-based Development Organization (CBDO):

  • Incorporated as a nonprofit in New York State and be in compliance with the New York State Charities Bureau.
  • Operate in the five boroughs of New York City.
  • Have a dedicated economic development budget under $2,000,000.
  • Note: This competition is open to community-serving organizations that do not have a dedicated economic development budget but are able to demonstrate an implementation partnership with a CBDO and a plan for community and economic impacts.

Grant awards will be made for the boldest ideas in three project budget size categories: $30,000; $60,000; and $100,000. Small and/or new organizations are encouraged to propose project budgets that are within their capacity to realistically execute.

Project Categories
Neighborhood Challenge project concepts focus on one of the following work areas:

  • Business Attraction, Retention, and Growth, including strategies to assist in the recruitment of new businesses or growth of existing businesses, as well as raising the entrepreneurial profile of commercial districts.
  • District Planning, Streetscape Improvements, and Public Space Activation, including district planning and management initiatives, as well as open space, streetscape, and storefront improvements that enhance the urban design, public use, or economic viability of a commercial area.
  • District-wide Marketing and Events, including programs, events, and art installations that improve the image and vitality of a commercial district, as well as strategies which use print, electronic media, or multimedia efforts to promote retail corridors.
  • Property Activation and Development, including real estate development plans, paired with an immediate private space activation component, that target underutilized properties which show promise as sites for near-term and long-term economic activity.

Application Process
The application process is closed. Look out for when we reopen the program for new applications in the fall!

Past Winners
Past projects have included storefront improvements in historic districts, public art installations, district-wide marketing campaigns, business attraction initiatives, and public space. 

Please direct any questions about Neighborhood Challenge to