Can I apply if I am not a business owner?

Business associations (either a formally formed 501c3 or informal group) can apply and be set up as a vendor to receive Small Business Challenge (SBC) grant funds. Residents and resident-based organizations (e.g. neighborhood groups) interested in the Challenge are directed to partner with a business or business association who can apply to the Challenge. Applications should specify if an applying business or business association is partnering with a resident or resident group.

Can I apply again if I am a past Small Business Challenge grant awardee or applicant?

Yes. Past applicants and past awardees are encouraged to apply again. First-time applicants will be given special consideration.

Can you help me come up with a project?

The SBC application has detailed examples of projects that would qualify for review under the grant terms and conditions. City staff cannot provide applicants with a project to pursue. However, staff overseeing the program in the Economic Development Division (EDD) can help answer your questions about aspects of potential projects. Contact Christina DiLisio at 617/ 349-6401 or at cdilisio@cambridgema.gov for any questions about applicable projects under grant terms.

How can I connect with the Cambridge Arts Council, the Public Works Department, or other City Departments and Divisions?

The City of Cambridge website, www.cambridgema.gov, has detailed contact information for each department. If you are having trouble connecting, Economic Development staff in CDD can help make a connection or facilitate a conversation regarding your project.

What kinds of supporting documents will I need to submit?

The SBC application requires a number of supporting documents which are detailed in the application guidelines. Applications will not be reviewed until all supporting documentation has been received. Applicants must provide:

  • Contractor Quotes: Submit three quotes per category of work. For example, if your project is to install banners in a business district, you might submit three contractor quotes for the banner design, banner fabrication, and banner installation all separately or you may submit three quotes from three separate contractors who perform all of those services. Ensure quotes are itemized.
  • Letters of Support: Submit three signed letters of support from businesses abutting proposed project.
  • Landlord Permission: Submit a written statement from any property owners granting permission to perform work if proposed project entails any impact to private property. 
  • Organizing Charter and Board Member List (if applying as a business association): Submit a copy of organizing charter or mission statement along with a full list of organization board members and their affiliations.

Can you recommend a sign fabricator/architect/general contractor/other professional?

No. The City of Cambridge cannot recommend a contractor over another as it would violate our procurement policies – we need to ensure that everyone has equal access to vendor opportunities. Most likely your business neighbor next door has a great contractor or professional that they can recommend! Please contact CDD staff at the number and email address above for further questions.

When do I get the grant funds?

Challenge funds are awarded upon completion of an applicant’s project and upon submission of documentation showing proof of payment. Proof of payment includes: 1) copies of canceled checks, both front and back 2) copies of credit card transactions, expanded to show detailed information 3) signed Contractor Certification Form from contractor(s)/fabricator(s). For a detailed timeline, please review the grant application.

What if my project isn’t completed? Can I still get my award at the end of the Fiscal Year?

Unfortunately the City cannot fund partial projects. In your application, please take care to demonstrate how you will ensure project completion on time. Additionally, City staff is committed to helping you complete your project on time and will be checking in half way through the grant cycle to assess and determine what potential interventions might be necessary.

Please contact Christina DiLisio, Associate Economic Development Specialist, with additional questions: 617/349-4601 or cdilisio@cambridgema.gov