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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 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 to community-based development organizations that spark new ideas and approaches to common neighborhood and commercial corridor issues.

Applications Have Closed for 2016 Projects!

Neighborhood Challenge continued its competitive reach across commercial corridors throughout New York City by accepting proposals from eligible organizations with economic development budgets up to $2,000,000. See below for details on eligibility and project categories.  Download the program guidelines for full details from this past round.

Business Improvement District (BID):

  • Incorporated BID 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 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.

All applicants are encouraged to consider New York State and City agencies that may need to be involved in project implementation and establish contact and/or agreements with those agencies in advance of applying for Neighborhood Challenge funding.

Project Categories
Grant awards of $50,000 to $100,000 will be made for the boldest ideas that focus on one of the following work areas:

  • Corridor and Civic Space Activation: Initiatives that enhance the economic vitality of a commercial corridor through placemaking and public space planning and activation efforts. Ideal projects include a mix of programs, events, and/or installations that physically enhance the commercial corridor, collectively provide both short- and long-term impacts, and that ultimately improve the vitality and promote the unique profile of a particular location or entire commercial district.
  • Property Activation and Development: Initiatives that include real estate analysis, feasibility studies, and development plans, ideally paired with an immediate private space activation component, which target underutilized properties that show promise to be near-term and/or long-term local economic catalysts.

Small and/or new organizations are encouraged to propose project budgets that are within their capacity to realistically execute.

Application Process
The application process begins with a brief project concept summary, which includes information on the project's vision, implementation, and expected outcomes or impact, as well as a project budget and staffing plan. Applicants may submit more than one project concept per category and are strongly encouraged to partner with neighboring community-based organizations, local institutions, small businesses, government agencies, and other community stakeholders. Based on the strength of the project concept, eligible organizations are invited to submit a detailed project proposal and participate in the Finalist Pitch Competition in the winter. Applications have closed for this year.  Check back here in the fall for updates on when applications for 2017 projects will open.

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