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Start-Up Event Grant

2024 Applications are now closed. Please check back early 2025 for the next application cycle. 

The Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA) has accepted applications for the Start-Up Event Grant, which funds new events, fresh ideas, and exciting programs that will encourage community and business engagement in downtown Rochester between March 2024-March 2025. It is important to note that this grant is a reimbursement-based grant. Award funding will be distributed post-event.

This grant is focused on partnering with individuals/community organizations to build sustainable and effective events that align with RDA’s mission “to create, enhance, and promote a downtown experience that is welcoming, fun and livable, and engage a range of cultures, ages, and backgrounds."

Check out our Application Guide for more information. 

See the past recipients here

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The Start-Up Event Grant plays an important role in inspiring events that help meet the needs of downtown in any given year. In 2023, we are especially looking for applications that:

Show interest in partnering with RDA in event execution

Engage/Support current businesses by increasing downtown foot traffic and driving commerce

Activate the Peace Plaza and the Chateau Theatre

Anticipate large attendance with high community impact

Take place on evenings and weekends.

Are free and open to the public.

Take place in winter: November 2024- February 2025

RDA has made some changes for this grant program to better focus on partnership and event sustainability in downtown Rochester.

The maximum amount that is available per recipient has increased to $5,000. The team is focused on creating impactful and sustainable events.

Another focus this year is on partnership. We are looking for applicants excited in partnering with our team. We want to be a resource for your questions, share our event organizing knowledge, and help promote.

Pitch Night will be changed this year into Roundtable Questions and Conversations. We want to make sure that our focus is on highlighting the funded events, so we have decided to make this a private conversation between the panel and the applicants.

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

The grant funded event, activities, or programs must take place between March 2024 and March 2025, may be hosted at indoor or outside venues, and must take place in the downtown special service district (SSD). Click here to view a map of the SSD.

First year recipients: If this will be the first time receiving the Start-Up Event Grant funding, you may use it as your sole source of funding. This includes events that may have been done before but have never been funded by this grant.

Second year recipients: Second year recipients must demonstrate their ability to find matching funds to their RDA grant.

Third year and up recipients: If you are interested in partnership for a third year+ event, please reach out directly to

November 6, 2023: Applications open

November 27 - December 1, 2023: Open office hours for application questions (scheduled on doodle)

December 8, 2023: 6 p.m. Applications close

December 8 - 16, 2023: Applications reviewed

December 18, 2023: Contact applicants who are invited to the Roundtable Questions and Conversations.

December 19, 2022: RDA staff will contact applicants who will participate in Pitch Night

First week in January 2023: Roundtable Questions and Conversations with panel

January 15, 2023: Recipients contacted

Each submitted request will be initially reviewed by RDA staff for completeness.

There are two stages to the application review process:

Stage 1: Complete the online application with all the required documents including:

  • Your event, activity, or program budget that shows both expenses and anticipated revenue and/or in-kind contributions including requested amount from RDA (include permitting expenses)

  • Marketing plan

  • Inspiration photos, site plan, or drawing
  • Stage 2: Roundtable Questions and Conversations

    Applications will be reviewed, and a selection of applicants will participant in the second stage of the application process called the Roundtable Questions and Conversations.

    You will sit down with the grant panel and present your event proposal. This allows the panel to ask follow-up questions to learn more about your event details. This presentation will be done in a private conference room with just your organizer team and the panel.

    The event proposal will be evaluated on:

  • Does your event meet the grant's requirements?
  • Is the budget achievable and realistic to the timeline?
  • Does your event align with the 2024 RDA grant priorities?
  • Do you demonstrate interest in partnering and evidence of capacity to execute the event?
  • Is your event unique? Is it a new or fresh event that adds variety to the downtown experience?
  • Does your event drive foot traffic and increase commerce downtown?
  • Does your event involve, represent, or invite a range of cultures, ages, and backgrounds to experience downtown?
  • Click here to access our Event Planning Guide to help you plan your next event downtown.


    Contact the Rochester Downtown Alliance at or 507-216-9882.