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Community Engagement through Placemaking Grant – An Invitation to Apply

This new ESL grant opportunity is focused on our Building Strong Neighborhoods funding priority area and invites neighborhood and community-based non-profit organizations (or those with a non-profit fiduciary) throughout Greater Rochester to submit proposals for urban and rural projects that seek to strengthen community connection and neighborhood identity through placemaking.

Community Engagement through Placemaking Overview

Proposed projects should include physical improvements in public spaces and demonstrate neighborhood engagement in the project’s planning and implementation. Examples include but are not limited to public art, pocket parks, decorative bike racks, public safety improvements, street furniture, murals, etc.

photo of safe crosswalk

The Urban Institute defines placemaking as the practice of designing spaces that reflect the priorities of the community, foster a sense of belonging, and improve residents’ quality of life. Placemaking that enhances public spaces can be a catalyst for building community and connecting neighborhoods, particularly when projects are part of a larger plan to enhance neighborhood identity, improve resident confidence, and engage community members in their planning and implementation.

Funding Request Information

Requests must demonstrate that they will engage neighborhood residents and community stakeholders in the planning and implementation phases. Additionally, those that include the following will be prioritized:

  • Alignment with the Rochester 2034 Comprehensive Plan (2019), particularly: Design at the Pedestrian Scale, Create Beautiful Spaces, Celebrate Assets, and Strengthen Multi-Modal Travel.
  • Projects that are part of a larger neighborhood plan to promote a sense of identity, connection, and that develop visible assets that support resident engagement and confidence.
  • Collaborative projects or initiatives involving multiple stakeholder groups.
  • Projects that evaluate impact. Evaluation could include, but is not limited to, pre- and post-surveys to measure neighborhood confidence, perceptions of safety, vehicle speeds, retail foot traffic, etc.

photo of a neighborhood corner on East and Main St.

Applicants may request grant funds in one or more of the following areas:

  • Programming/Implementation: Support for the cost of implementing a neighborhood placemaking project that is part of a larger community plan or strategy.
  • Planning: Support for developing an implementable neighborhood plan designed to market the neighborhood and build identity.
  • Evaluation: Support for internal evaluation or the hiring of an evaluation consultant to help evaluate the impact of the proposed project.

Funding may not be used for:

  • Large capital campaigns
  • Inherently religious activities such as religious worship, religious instruction, proselytization, etc.
  • Endowments

Submission Details

Eligibility: 501(c)3 non-profits serving communities in Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, and Wayne that are community based or with demonstrated experience engaging with their community OR community-based groups with a 501(c)3 fiduciary.

Grant Size: One-year requests of $1,000 - $100,000 will be considered. We will consider up to 50% of the total project cost and the requested amount must be commensurate with the proposal’s scale and scope. We can consider funding 100% of a project budget up to $10,000 if that amount is less than half of the organization budget.

Funding Cycle: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis through Friday, April 12, 2024. Funding decisions will be made within 60-90 days of submission.

Required Documents: Applications should include descriptions of how funds will be used, identify other sources of funds and outline reporting criteria, including demographic information and any key learning. Other required documents are listed in the online grant portal.

How to Apply


If you have questions about applying for funding or your proposed project, please contact:

Eric Van Dusen
Manager, Community Impact

Monika Reifenstein
Relationship Manager, Community Impact

Learn more about ESL Community Impact initiatives.