District Bridges Main Streets

The District Bridges Model

District Bridges is unique among the organizations that operate DC Main Street programs. Typically, when a new Main Street program is designated, a new nonprofit organization is born. This new nonprofit then, in under a year must set up all the systems necessary to effectively function, hire an executive director, develop programming and community support, participate in a variety of trainings, and of course, fundraise.

Unlike other DC Main Street organizations, District Bridges is one entity that manages multiple Main Street programs. District Bridges was the first organization in DC to manage multiple Main Street programs. Our Main Street programs include the Cleveland Park, Columbia Heights | Mount Pleasant, Logan Circle, Lower Georgia Avenue, and U Street Main Streets.

As the first multi-Main Street organization, District Bridges has developed a model that makes launching new Main Street programs a turnkey operation streamlining the operational setup of a new program, creating economies of scale to achieve greater impact, increasing staff capacity, and most importantly developing a strategic approach to community development that looks at the holistic needs of a city to create collaborative solutions that leverage each communities unique assets  to address the most pressing and critical needs they face.

Community Built. Community Driven.

The most successful community development organizations are built by and for the communities they serve. Successful Main Street programs rely on the direct input from community stakeholders.

To ensure each one of the District Bridges Main Street programs remains connected to the communities they serve, we developed advisor boards made up of key community stakeholders. We can these advisory board Neighborhood Strategy Councils.

The Neighborhood Strategy Councils provides leadership on neighborhood priorities for community-based economic development through District Bridges Main Street programs. Each Main Street program develops an NSC that works as a team to apply their experience and local understanding of community needs to support the designated Main Street neighborhoods. Specific activities of individual members may vary based on expertise, capacity, and availability.

The basic roles and responsibilities are as follows:

  1. Represent community priorities and concerns.
  2. Disseminate information to the broader community.
  3. Identify and develop Neighborhood Transformation Strategies.
  4. Lead or support Action Teams for specific events, programs, and priorities. 
  5. Set priorities for Annual Work Plans.
  6. Recruit volunteers for Main Street activities.
  7. Support the identification and cultivation of financial and in-kind contributions for priority activities.

The Main Street Approach

The Main Street Four Point Approach®

DC Main Streets builds on the Main Street Approach® that was developed by the National Main Street Center in 1980 to assist commercial revitalization efforts nationwide. The Approach consists of four points which work together to build a sustainable and complete community revitalization effort in the following areas:

Economic Vitality

Supporting local businesses

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Strengthening business operations to capitalize on market opportunities and improve competitive advantage through strategies with technical assistance and training in areas such as product diversification and inventory control. Recruiting businesses for vacant and underutilized commercial properties.

Organization

There has to be organization for us to accomplish anything!

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Creating public and private partnerships to build the resources (e.g. volunteers and funding) needed for sustainable Main Streets program, as well as public relations efforts that emphasize communication with stakeholders about the value of neighborhood commercial revitalization initiatives using tools such as website, newsletters, and annual reports.

Promotion

Promoting businesses helps create foot traffic

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Developing retail sales events and targeted marketing to increase the purchase of goods and services from neighborhood businesses, as well as special events and activities that increase foot traffic to the commercial corridor, as a whole, and create a positive image that attracts new businesses, investors, and visitors.

Design

Make it look pretty

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Revitalizing streetscape, signs, and public spaces to improve the physical condition of the neighborhood and create a clean safe, and appealing image and brand for residents, customers, and new and old businesses.