Roll out the New Year with a Bright Idea: $10K in grants available

Do you have an innovative idea, but you just don’t have the funding to bring it to light?  Enter Bright Idea Innovation Grants, Staunton’s newest funding resource.

staunton2edits“We believe that a simple, smart idea can have a significant positive impact in our community,” says Julie Markowitz, executive director of the Staunton Downtown Development Association (SDDA).  “We’re excited to announce this first round of Bright Idea Innovation Grant funding.”

The grants are designed to accelerate projects that are in the light bulb stage by bringing them to the marketplace efficiently, quickly and with an eye towards long-term economic success.

Participants will compete for one of two $5,000 grants – one grant will be set aside for a local entrepreneurial business and the other will be reserved for a nonprofit entity. The business grant will go to an existing, independent commercial operator physically located in SDDA’s Downtown Service District or in the Newtown Historic District, and the nonprofit grant will go to a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has an impact on those districts.

“The Bright Idea Innovation Grants are designed to specifically target those businesses and organizations that are already impacting the downtown Staunton service district,” says Markowitz.

Applicants are invited to pitch their product and/or service ideas during a Bright Idea Exchange, which will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 29. Jurors will select the best ideas, and recommend them to be developed with outside assistance and support.  The business grant finalists will receive free assistance from the Staunton Creative Community Fund, the Small Business Development Center, and the Community Foundation, as needed.

Staunton is brimming with inventive and creative people,” says Markowitz.  “We want to hear from them.”

“Many of the best ideas through the years have come from our creative and dedicated community of nonprofit organizations. It is that extraordinary spark of an idea that we hope to encourage and support through these grants,” says Dan Layman, CEO of the community foundation of the Central Blue Ridge.

For additional information about the Bright Idea Innovation Grants, including how to apply, visit  Interested participants also may contact Markowitz at (540) 332-3867.  Applications are due by Jan. 22nd, and must be submitted online.  Finalists will be determined by the end of January and winners will be announced at the end of March.  The Staunton Downtown Development Association will administer the grants.

The Bright Idea Innovation Grants project is supported by a partnership including the Virginia Main Street Downtown Improvement Grant, the Staunton Downtown Development Association (SDDA), the Staunton Department of Economic Development (SDED), the community foundation of the Central Blue (CFBR), and the Staunton Creative Community Fund (SCCF). The grant funds must be dedicated for the purposes described in the Bright Idea Concept Plan and the project implemented on or before April 1, 2015.


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