Thursday, December 15, 2016

Columbia Heights and Mt. Pleasant gains official "Main Street" status: $200,000 for improvements and more

This is great news! The Columbia Heights Initiative and other local groups have been working for some time to become an official, city-recognized Main Street organization, and a few weeks ago they got it! Which means they get $200,000 in grant funds for improvements, staff, cleanups, facades and more for our area. The city describes the goal of the Main Street program as:
Though our ten independent, nonprofit neighborhood Main Street programs, we revitalize communities by retaining and recruiting businesses, improving commercial properties and streetscapes, and attracting consumers. Leaders in these neighborhood organizations assist businesses and coordinate sustainable community-driven revitalization efforts in their neighborhoods.
Here's what Brianne Dornbush, director of Columbia Heights Initiative, had to say about some ideas:
As for general plans, we will continue to host community events that bring people together, work with local businesses to connect them with resources and support to grow and thrive in the neighborhood, and work to continue to build unique partnership across sectors. We will be working with both Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights to serve and connect both neighborhoods- while maintaining and celebrating their distinct identities.
Here's more about the Main Street program from the city. Dupont, Shaw, Barracks Row and H Street are other areas with Main Street groups.

The area where the Columbia Heights/Mt. Pleasant Main Street will operate is Mt. Pleasant Street from Harvard to Park, 14th from Harvard to Spring, 11th from Kenyon to Park Monroe, Irving from Mt. Pleasant to 11th, Park from 14th to 11th, and Kenyon from 14th to 11th. (See the map I made below.)

Here's more info from their press release:

Community Nonprofit Earns Main Street Designation, Funding for Neighborhood Development

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Columbia Heights Initiative has been announced as the newest designee of the DC Main Streets program by the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD).  Their Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant Main Street will join eleven other DC Main Streets programs that have been accredited through DC Main Streets and the National Main Street Center, Inc. As a DC Main Street designee, Columbia Heights Initiative will implement programs and services to support the growth and development of neighborhood businesses and the revitalization of the commercial corridors of Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant.

The Columbia Heights Initiative, responsible for the eleven-year running of the Columbia Heights Day festival, took major strides to develop into a stronger community organization over the past year. In 2016, the Columbia Heights Initiative volunteer Board of Directors hired Brianne Dornbush as the nonprofit’s first Executive Director. Under their collective leadership, the organization profoundly expanded its presence and impact in the community by introducing a series of new community events, creating monthly volunteer and networking opportunities, developing a business and nonprofit network, and building an enthusiastic and active volunteer corps.

The $200,000 grant from DSLBD will allow the Columbia Heights Initiative to provide technical assistance to support capacity building, business retention, program design and implementation, and commercial-revitalization planning to maintain the traditional and unique character of the distinct neighborhoods included in the Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant Main Street boundaries. DC Main Streets, managed by DSLBD, is the coordinating agency that oversees the locally designated nonprofit Main Streets organizations. Funding is made possible through the Commercial Revitalization Assistance Fund. The grant will be matched with private-sector funds raised by Columbia Heights Initiative. Columbia Heights Initiative’s commitment to the community and intentional relationship development has garnered broad community support, ideally positioning the organization to manage this new Main Street Program.

In celebration of this award and the impact of the organization over the last year, the Columbia Heights Initiative is hosting its inaugural Columbia Heights Night gala fundraiser on Friday, December 2nd at 7pm.

“We invite all our neighbors from across DC to join us as we celebrate this tremendous achievement,” says Dornbush. “We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve our community as a DC Main Street and we welcome all who want to see the good work of the Columbia Heights Initiative continue to come out for a night of fun at our special event.”

The evening will feature a “Taste of Columbia Heights” buffet catered by some of the neighborhood’s beloved restaurants, live local music by the Harry Bells, a silent auction, and specialty gifts and raffles. The proceeds from this event will go toward supporting the continued growth of the organization as it works to build a successful DC Main Street Program in Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant. Tickets can be purchased for $75 through the Columbia Heights Initiative website at

Read DSLBD’s Official Announcement: Special Notice

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