Only in Seattle Grants

Only in Seattle Initiative

The Only in Seattle Initiative provides grant funding and staff support to foster inclusive neighborhood business districts that allow small businesses to thrive. The Initiative focuses on supporting business and property owners to organize around a common vision for their district and attract investment. Participating districts start by developing a strategic vision, creating an action plan, and determining clear outcomes and leads, and getting to work.  From new crosswalks, murals, and lighting improvements, to business coaching, community festivals, and litter cleanup, Seattle's business districts have used Only in Seattle resources to put their vision into action.


Learn about the Only in Seattle Initiative and Explore Business District Wins (coming soon) for highlights of the Initiative at work in Seattle's business districts.



Only in Seattle Request for Application (RFA)

The 2018 Only in Seattle Initiative RFA is now closed. Please check back in September 2018 for 2019 funding opportunities and sign up for the OIS newsletter for additional annoucements. The 2018 RFA information is included below for reference.


The Only in Seattle Initiative is a partnership between OED, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON). Approximately $1,400,000 is available (contingent upon federal and City funding allocations) for district grants and services that accomplish goals in the five strategy areas.  Please sign up for the Only in Seattle newsletter to get the latest information and contact us if you have any further questions or want to apply for the upcoming funding round. 


The RFA will be available on September 30, 2017 at 9 AM. Applications are due on Monday, October 30, 2017 at 9:00 am PST  via the grant system (link below). Late applications and paper copies will not be accepted.


Follow these steps to complete your application.

  1. Review the Only in Seattle Initiative Program Description


    If you are new to the Only in Seattle Initiative or want to learn about the new elements in this year’s RFA, read the Program Description. It will make completing the RFA much easier. 

  2. Download a copy of the full Only in Seattle Initiative grant application


    Download the PDF version or Word version of the application to review it as a whole and begin drafting your responses. We recommend filling out your application in Word first, so you can save as you go. Please note, these documents are provided only for review and preparation purposes - all applications must be submitted through our online database (link below).

  3. Access Application Templates and Example Action Plans


    Download and attach the Budget Template and Key Outcomes Template needed for the Tier I application. The online system will prompt you to upload these documents at the appropriate time. 

  4. Read the FAQs and Helpful Tips


    While we're always a phone call or email away to help you with your questions, many answers can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and GoGrants Helpful Tips sections to assist you in your grant application.

  5. Start your application


    Please create a new user account to begin the application and choose the profile type, "Organization" in the account creation page.


Are you considering applying and have questions? Having trouble creating an account? Contact the Only in Seattle team to get help.

Contact Us

Theresa Barreras
Business Districts
Heidi Hall
Business Districts
Mikel Davila
Business Districts
Phillip Sit
Business Improvement Area
Ken Takahashi
Development Finance Advisor




Only in Seattle Initiative 2018 Program Description


The Only in Seattle Initiative is a partnership between OED, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON). Approximately $1,400,000 is available (contingent upon federal and City funding allocations) for district grants and services that accomplish goals in the five strategy areas. Visit Only in Seattle Grants to access the current application process.


Investment Tiers

This Initiative provides seed funding and support that can help a business district move ahead of its current state to a new level of organization and operations. Participating districts develop a strategic vision of where they want to be, an action plan to achieve that vision and clear outcomes that are intended from the work. Districts can apply for any of the following tiers for which they qualify. However, priority for Tiers II - VI is given to districts that have or are developing action plans. 

Tier I: Action Plan Grants. These grants fall into three categories, based on the district's work: 

Organizing - For districts working on organizing (or reorganizing) stakeholders in the district to develop a shared vision and create a new action plan. Grants are generally for consultants and/or staff to conduct outreach, facilitate planning meetings, develop a plan, and complete early projects that build momentum. 

Transforming - For districts with a new action plan beginning implementation. The grants are given to a lead agency that serves as the central hub for the vision and action plan and coordinates implementation and communication with and between all participating parties. Grants can cover staff, project costs, consulting, etc. 

Established - For districts with an established action plan and ongoing implementation that have a key project that will help grow the district's work. Grants can cover staff, project costs, consulting, etc. 

Tier II: Business Improvement Areas Consultation 

Tier II is intended for commercial districts that are seeking assistance in forming a Business Improvement Area (BIA), modifying an existing BIA's boundaries or rate payment structure, or exploring the feasibility of a BIA. Districts receive consulting services to guide them through the steps from feasibility analysis to the legislative process. 

Tier III: Racial Equity in Business Districts 

In this tier, you can apply to receive training and support to better serve under-represented businesses and business of color in your district. This includes participating in a training cohort with other districts and access to the Department of Neighborhood's Community Liaison program. The program hires liaisons who share language, culture, ethnicity, or other demographics with local business owners to provide a bridge of communication and understanding between the businesses and the local organization. These liaisons can do outreach, conduct surveys, help facilitate focus groups, etc. in close partnership with the local organization. 

Tier IV: Mobile Business Consulting 

Mobile Business Consulting brings OED's business consulting, financing and problem-solving services directly to neighborhood businesses. OED will work with the business district organization to conduct outreach to businesses and schedule individual appointments with the consultants. Based on identified interests and needs of the businesses, OED will bring the right technical assistance partners to the meeting and small businesses can connect with several providers at the same time and location. 

Tier V: City Infrastructure/Public Space Improvements 

OED has available a pool of $370,000 for capital improvement projects that enhance business districts. Eligible neighborhood business districts include those that have: paid on-street parking; a majority of low-moderate income residents; and/or significant impacts from construction. Tier VI projects include design, cost estimating and construction of infrastructure and amenities in parks and in the public right of way. Projects are often completed directly by the Seattle Department of Transportation but can also result in a grant to the business district to hire consultants and contractors. 


Application Timeline

  • September 30: Request for Applications released
  • October 13, 2:00 PM: Grant Information Session - Register here
  • October 30, 9:00 AM: Application deadline
  • November 8, 9, 13: Presentations to Only in Seattle Review Committee. To select preferred dates/times for your district to present, please visit our Doodle Poll
  • December 31: Notification of funding decision


Contracting Process

Grantees selected through this application process will receive a one-year investment commitment for 2018 with the potential for investment in upcoming years. Each year the investments are contingent upon the availability of funds for this program and the grantee's satisfactory progress on activities during the previous year(s). 

2018 contracts need to be completed and signed before work is eligible for reimbursement. Contracts can be developed immediately after investment notifications in December. Contracts can no longer be back-dated. The contract will include specific activities, milestones and a budget based on an action plan that is accepted by OED and the district.


Program Requirements

Target Area - Business districts need clearly defined geographic boundaries that will be the focus of the work. 

Coordination - If multiple organizations are working together, there must be a clear plan for coordination, with one organization or individual identified as the lead for overseeing the implementation of the action plan.

Strong Stakeholder Participation - While the activities are overseen by a local lead organization or individual, no one agency can do everything. Public agencies, nonprofit organizations, area residents, businesses and property owners must share investments in and responsibility for strengthening their neighborhoods. Action plans must be developed with the input and involvement of key stakeholders and each component of the plan must identify the organizations, staff or volunteers identified to take responsibility for ensuring implementation. 

Impact and Long Term Sustainability - The action plans should be focused on making an immediate impact in the district and developing infrastructure that will allow the work to be sustainable over time. 

Investment - OED will make an investment of grant dollars, technical assistance, training resources and staff time in each participating business district. The grant funding can reimburse operating and direct costs incurred by the lead agencies and other agencies submitting joint proposals. This can include staff costs, supplies, marketing, etc. Funding can also be used for physical improvement projects such as business district beautification. 

One Proposal Per Business District - As mentioned above, efforts in the district should be coordinated among community stakeholders. Therefore, we only want to receive one application from each commercial district. If we receive multiple applications from different groups in a district that are either unaware of each other's work or are competing for the grant, we will require that the groups work together to develop shared priorities. The application can include funding for multiple agencies and the lead agency or individual will be responsible for coordinating the work of organizations involved. 

Funding Requirements - A majority of funding for this program is federal - Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Business districts receiving federal funds will need to be located in primarily residential (as opposed to primarily industrial) areas with over 51% of low-moderate income residents served by the district. Business districts that do not meet this requirement can still be eligible to receive City General Funds. 

Neighborhoods Qualifying for Federal Funds - Business districts within the following neighborhoods would potentially qualify for the federal funding: Central Area, Rainier Valley, Chinatown International District and Little Saigon, Capitol Hill, White Center, South Park, Pioneer Square, Delridge, University District and Lake City. Federal funding eligibility will need to be determined for each proposal.


Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions for the Only in Seattle Initiative. Visit Only in Seattle Grants to access the current application process.