Start-Up Event Grant

The grant application is now closed as of April 10, 2021.

The Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA) is accepting applications for the Start-Up Event Grant. Applicants may apply for up to $3,000 in funds to host new, pandemic-appropriate events or passive activities or programs like public art, in downtown Rochester.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Start-Up Event Grant funding?

Up to $3,000 per event is possible for new activities, programs, events, or event series. Individuals, businesses, community groups, and organizations may apply.

  • Please note: Due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, RDA is expanding this grant application to include passive programs (pop-up parks, public art installations, small music series, etc.) in addition to events. Any activity that can demonstrate an ability to safely bring audiences downtown will be considered.

If awarded, organizers must submit pre-event documentation including a COVID-19 safety plan as required by the state of Minnesota (see Grant Requirements section below).

Who can apply?

Individuals, businesses, community groups, and organizations may apply.

When do funded efforts need to take place?

Grant funded event/activity/program must take place between May 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021. If your event takes place prior to May 1, 2021 please contact Kanika Couchene, RDA director of events & strategic partnerships, at kcouchene@downtownrochestermn.com.

Where do events need to take place?

Events may be inside or outside and must take place in the downtown special service district (SSD). Click here to view a map or the SSD.

Grant requirements

Location: Events may be inside or outside and must take place in the downtown special service district (SSD). Click here to view a map or the SSD.

Safety: Event/activity/program applicant must demonstrate ability to operate safely under COVID-19 conditions, follow all state guidelines, and provide a COVID-19 safety plan if required at time of event/activity/program execution.

Weekend priority: RDA is especially interested in drawing audiences downtown on weekends. Events/activities/programs that take place on Saturdays and Sundays will be given priority.

Timeline: Grant funded event/activity/program must take place between May 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021. If your event takes place prior to May 1, 2021 please contact Kanika Couchene, RDA director of events & strategic partnerships, at kcouchene@downtownrochestermn.com.

Pre-event documentation: If awarded, organizers must submit the following no less than 30 days before the event: 

  • A final budget with revenue (including in-kind) and expenses. 

  • Permitting documents as required by the City of Rochester.  

  • COVID-19 safety plan as required by the state.  

  • Marketing plan (see below) describing how RDA’s brand will be used.  

  • All receipts and invoices related to RDA’s funding for the event.  

Post-event documentation: 

  • Any remaining receipts and invoices relating to RDA’s funding for the event.

  • Summary of event attendance and other key metrics.

Marketing requirements

  • The Downtown Rochester logo must be incorporated in any print or digital promotions. Downtown Rochester logos amend usage guidelines are available here.
  • Websites, social media, or blogs must have a link directly to the DowntownRochesterMN.com website.
  • Promotions must also state that the event is funded in part by a Start-Up Event Grant from the Rochester Downtown Alliance.

Restriction of grant funds

Funds may not be used for:

  • Food or beverage
  • Alcohol
  • Permanent (depreciable) assets (tools, etc.)

Timelines

  • March 24, 2021 – Applications open
  • April 5, 2021 – Zoom Event Planning Q&A (Applicants can request a recording from Kanika Couchene)
  • April 9, 2021 – Applications close
  • April 15, 2021 – Winners notified and announced
  • April 19 – 23, 2021 – TBD First Time Event Planner Workshop

To apply

Applications are now closed.

Each submitted request will be initially reviewed by RDA staff for completeness, then juried by RDA’s ACE Committee.

Applications will be evaluated based on:

  • Mission Alignment – How does your request align with the RDA mission statement, which is, “To create, enhance, and promote a downtown experience that is welcoming, fun, and livable.”
  • Location – Does the event/activity/program take place within the designated downtown SSD?
  • COVID-19 Safety Considerations - Event/activity/program must demonstrate its ability to operate safely under anticipated COVID-19 conditions.
  • Weekend Priority - Downtown Rochester, MN is particularly interested in activating downtown on weekends, and priority will be given to events/activities/programs that occur on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Uniqueness of Event/Activity/Program – Is this a different and new idea that adds variety to current offerings downtown?
  • Support of Underrepresented Communities – Does this event engage minority or underrepresented groups with downtown? Twenty percent of this year’s funds will be designated for event/activities/programs that engage underrepresented groups in our community, or that are organized by minority-owned enterprises.
  • Demonstrated Experience – Does the applicant have demonstrated ability to organize and execute this event/activity/program? First-time event organizers can strengthen their application by attending RDA’s optional Event Planning Q&A Session.

Questions?

Contact Kanika Couchene
Director of events & strategic partnerships
kcouchene@downtownrochestermn.com or 507-216-9884


New to Event Planning?

Click HERE to access our First-Time Event Planning Guide to help you plan your next event downtown.


Past Start-Up Grant Funded Event Photos