The information below applies to proposals that are intended to serve the Pioneer Square neighborhood or both Pioneer Square and the Chinatown-International district. Applicants will be expected to specify how their projects will benefit the identified neighborhoods.

There are no limitations for organizations submitting more than one project in this funding round. However, please do so in separate applications.

Funding Amounts

HSD will invest approximately $650,000 in total funding for competitive projects that serve Pioneer Square/both neighborhood(s), and that will expend the requested funds prior to November 15, 2022. Individual projects will be awarded grants up to the following amounts:

  • Capital requests: there is no limit at this time for a capital ask in Pioneer Square/both neighborhood(s). Applicants should be aware that even though no formal limit is stated, final award amounts will depend upon the quality of other competitive grants submitted during this round, in the context of the total amount available. The Community Review Panel may chose to provide a partial or full award.
  • Operating: successful requests will be funded up to $65,000 each, depending upon the quality of other competitive grants submitted during this round, in the context of the total amount available.
  • Applicants should be aware that the Community Review Panel may opt to fund all or part of a request.

Contracting and Funding Disbursement

Successful applicants will engage in a contracting process with Historic South Downtown, which will include details about the disbursement schedule, performance benchmarks, and reporting requirements. Depending upon the project and size of budget, grant payments may be made in one lump sum, based on a reimbursement schedule, or defined performance benchmarks. All project funding for all rounds must be distributed and deliverables completed by November 15, 2022.

Organizational Background

Historic South Downtown (Historic South Downtown) is a state-created agency responsible for preserving, restoring, and promoting the health, safety, and cultural identity of Seattle’s Pioneer Square and Chinatown-International District neighborhoods. 

Historic South Downtown was created by the Washington State Legislature as the first community preservation and development authority in the state. Historic South Downtown exists to respond to impacts from ongoing construction of major public facilities, public works, and capital projects in both neighborhoods. It is governed by a board of thirteen volunteer, elected directors that represent community stakeholders from Chinatown-International District, Pioneer Square, and local legislature.

Historic South Downtown received funding from King County Transit Oriented Development bonds that will be distributed to the communities we serve via a competitive grantmaking process. This Request for Proposals is the fourth and final in a series of proposal rounds that will distribute at least $4.2M in funding.

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Drawing from Historic South Downtown’s Strategic Plan, the Board of Directors has determined that all grant solicitation, review, evaluation, awards, and monitoring will be conducted in furtherance of the authority’s defined values:

  1. Equity. Mitigate historic racial and social inequity and model equity in work and impact.
  2. Neighborhood Self-determination. Advocate for Chinatown-International District and Pioneer Square to exercise self-determination with regards to our character, future, needs and wants.
  3. Continuous Learning. Rooted in history and remain responsive to our changing neighborhoods.
  4. Accountability. Act transparently and maximize the potential of our assets to benefit our community.
  5. Resiliency. Respond to opportunities and threats while maintaining mission focus.

Guiding Principles

The Guiding Principles are the framework for scoring and evaluating the grant proposals received:

  1. Grants should lead to community benefits that remain after Historic South Downtown funding is expended.
  2. Ideally, funding should be leveraged. Historic South Downtown participation should build upon other resources and support.
  3. Funding will be given to projects located within or serving people in Pioneer Square or the Chinatown-International District (or both), as defined by the City of Seattle. Current district maps may be found at: (C-ID) and (Pioneer Square).
  4. Funding will be awarded to nonprofits or applicants that are fiscally sponsored by a nonprofit. Applicants may apply prior to finalizing their fiscal sponsorship; however, no awards will be made without a valid fiscal sponsorship agreement. Applicants that do not have nonprofit status are encouraged to contact Historic South Downtown staff to discuss this requirement further. A list of potential fiscal sponsors is available at Applications can be submitted by a single Applicant or a partnership, so long as the lead entity qualifies as a nonprofit.
  5. All participants in the solicitation, evaluation, awarding, and monitoring of Historic South Downtown grants shall be trained to implement the Historic South Downtown strategic plan.

Priority Funding Areas

Historic South Downtown seeks to provide funding in areas that will help to elevate the voices of those who live, work, and play in the South Downtown neighborhoods; that will help build community strength and identity, and develop resiliency in these two historic communities. Specifically, Historic South Downtown will be target grantmaking toward:

  1. Capacity for Local Organizations

Historic South Downtown may provide a portion of its funding to support time-limited projects that empower local voices and promote equitable results for the neighborhoods of South Downtown. Examples of work that may be funded includes neighborhood advocacy, organizing, and project incubation.

2. Business Development

Historic South Downtown recognizes that small, micro and, culturally relevant businesses represent a gateway to economic stability for individuals and families, enlarging employment opportunities for residents and creating a platform for sustainable economic prosperity. Historic South Downtown may fund projects that build the capacity and resilience of these businesses. Funded projects must comply with the State of Washington Constitution’s prohibition against lending of public credit or gifting of public funds (Wash. Const. Art. 8 §5, 7).  Examples of projects that could be funded include, but are not be limited to:

  • a nonprofit that provides training for small business start-ups;
  • funding of façade improvements that are needed to comply with the special review procedures of the two Historic Districts;

3. History/Culture

Historic South Downtown may invest in projects that promote, preserve, document, and strengthen the history and culture of the two neighborhoods. Examples of projects could include, but not be limited to: historic exhibits at museums, installations of historical markers, art installations.

4.  Public Realm

Historic South Downtown may invest in projects that support activation, safety, and engagement in the public realm. We understand the public realm to be a critical investment for the residents, businesses, and visitors to our communities, and essential to the quality of life in the areas we serve. Examples of projects that could be funded include, but are not be limited to: activities that promote usage of area parks, plazas, or other public spaces, alley improvements.

Appeal Process

  • Historic South Downtown shall notify all applicants of the results of the RFP process, including notification on RFP review and appeal processes
  • If any applicant feels Historic South Downtown has failed to follow its defined process, they may send an appeal form to the Board President, c/o Historic South Downtown, 409B Maynard Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98104. The Board President shall consult with the Executive Committee and the Executive Director and respond to the appeal letter within 30 days
  • Funding awards are not subject to appeal
  • Applicants may also seek review of unsuccessful applications by the Executive Director, who will respond to their request within 5 business days

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