2016 Renaissance Block Challenge Details Announced

by | Oct 12, 2015 | Downtown - Reinvest, Healthy Neighborhoods

The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation has announced details for the 2016 Renaissance Block Challenge, a program that offers matching funds to home owners up to $2,000 to put towards exterior home improvements. The program encourages and rewards neighborhood groups to work together in an effort to reinvest in their own communities.

Pre-applications for neighborhoods interested in participating in the 2016 program will be available on the JRC website beginning October 1, 2015.

“We have been able to accelerate the application process for next year,” said Mary Maxwell, neighborhood associate with the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation. “In previous years, we had to wait to award the grants because we did not have the funds until May. With the grant from the John Alfred and Oscar Johnson Memorial Trust, we can move the application deadlines to an earlier date,” said Maxwell. Earlier in the year, John Sellstrom, Johnson Foundation co-trustee, and Carole Sellstrom, Johnson Foundation executive director, made an initial donation of $250,000 toward the Renaissance Block Challenge program with an additional $250,000 to be made in the future.

City residents who would like to participate in the program need to form a neighborhood cluster with a minimum of five property owners which can include homeowners, landlords, and businesses. Once a group has formed, the pre-application process can begin. Aside from matching grant funding, participating homeowners have access to discounts from sponsoring hardware stores and garden centers as well as discounts on coordinated purchasing of materials, services, and design.

“The new deadlines will give property owners a better time of the year to contact their neighbors and get started on the process. It will also give those awarded the 2016 grant more time to finish their projects,” said Maxwell. Not every home improvement project qualifies for the program. Many of those that do include: painting, porch repair, soffit repair, sidewalk repair, mailboxes, exterior lighting, front-yard landscaping, front doors/windows, driveways, driveway aprons, and gutters.

Since 2011, 27 clusters have participated in the program, with almost 300 property owners investing more than $775,000 in exterior improvements and repairs. A few neighborhoods have participated in the program more than once. Neighborhoods that want to participate again must have at least 60 percent of the homeowners be first-time participants to be approved. The neighborhoods with the best chance of being approved for the program are those that can demonstrate a commitment to cultivating strong communication between neighbors and a shared sense of identity so that momentum gained in 2016 can be carried forward and result in a sustainable impact on the community.

Learn more about the RBC pre-application process by attending an informational workshop on Tuesday, October 13, or Thursday, October 15, at 6:00 pm at the Lillian Vitanza Ney Renaissance Center, 119-121 W. Third Street. Reservations are requested. Pre-applications for the 2016 program can be found at www.jamestownrenaissance.org under the “Healthy Neighborhoods” section. Call Mary Maxwell at 664-2477, ext. 224 or email mary@jamestownrenaissance.org for questions regarding the Renaissance Block Challenge or to reserve your space for a workshop.

The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation is a nonprofit organization that supports downtown and neighborhood revitalization in Jamestown, NY, by promoting reinvestment, stakeholder engagement, and innovation.


Thursday, October 1 – Pre-application will be available

Tuesday, October 13 – Pre-application informational workshop

Thursday, October 15 – Pre-application informational workshop

Friday, December 11 – pre-applications is due

Friday, January 8, 2016 – Invitations to the final applications will be announced

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 – final applications are due

Thursday, March 31, 2016 – RBC grant awardees announced

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