Boosting Business Blocks Grant

flower baskets and flags

The Boosting Business Blocks Grant (formerly the Small Business Challenge) offers Cambridge businesses and business associations the opportunity to work together on projects that elevate their commercial area and help increase foot traffic. 

Applicants can receive between $3,000 and $7,000 per project. Past projects have ranged from website re-design for business associations to public art installations and holiday strolls.  

The Boosting Business Blocks Grant is not intended for individual business owners. The grant promotes collaboration among business neighbors as well as community-led or improvements or beautification. Applicants are encouraged to consider the following categories when submitting a proposal: 

  • Neighborhood Tourism/Events Planning – Work with staff from CDD, Cambridge Arts, other City departments, or the Cambridge Office of Tourism to create one-time promotional marketing materials or events around a shared vision for your commercial area. 
  • Placemaking – Work with Economic Opportunity and Development staff and Cambridge Public Works to install decorative or interactive elements that emphasize the unique cultural or commercial assets of your area. 
  • Technology & Skill Training – Partner with local expert technology and/or skill trainers to build the skills of your businesses and/or local business associations, help increase sales, increase business efficiency, and/or develop online marketing and social media strategies. 

Past Winners

People with masks inside the indestructible foods storefrontThe East Cambridge Business Association (ECBA) partnered with Gather Here to launch the Inman Incubator. The Inman Incubator hosts a rotating selection of local makers in a ground floor commercial space in the heart of Inman Square. The Inman Incubator project was awarded funds to help pay for communal interior furniture like shelves and tables as well as marketing materials for the kick-off of the Incubator.


Central Square signThe Central Square Business Improvement District (BID) reclaimed an old, but prominent, Blockbuster Video blade sign by installing a new, brightly colored and inviting design that welcomes visitors to Central Square. This iconic sign of Central Square has new life a symbol of the arts and culture district.



Person in green jacket looks at stationery at an outdoor market in winter in daylightThe business of Observatory Hill worked together to host a holiday stroll and were awarded funds to promote this event. The businesses purchased branded, commemorative mugs, that were distributed to stroll attendees and used grant funds to create decorations for all participating businesses.


Screen grab of holiday guide including map, pictures of merchandiseCambridge Local First used grant funds to develop an online marketplace that celebrated local businesses. The site helped businesses that didn’t have an existing online platform for sales and helped customers connect with the businesses in a new and exciting way. 


Learn about past projects since the start of the Small Business Challenge in 2017.

Application & Review Process

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until April 15, pending available funds.

Click here to download a copy of the Boosting Business Blocks Grant Application and Guidelines.

Grant awards are determined by Economic Opportunity and Development Division (EODD) staff and are certified by a cross-departmental review committee. Together, they consider the following when awarding grant funds:

  1. total project cost
  2. potential impact in a community or given area
  3. lasting impact and sustainability of project
  4. feasibility of project and soundness of proposal
  5. ability of project to be replicated

The City will reimburse awardees for a portion of actual paid costs up to $7000 per qualifying project. 

All projects, regardless of when funding is awarded, should be fully paid for by June 1 to qualify for reimbursement before the end of the fiscal year (June 30). EODD staff will work with awardees one-on-one to establish benchmarks to ensure grant projects are on track for completion. Grant funds will be awarded upon project completion and submission of evaluation plan results. 

Please contact Christina DiLisio at 617-349-4601 or for more information.