What is a Main Street Program

What is a Main Street?

DC Main Streets is a comprehensive program funded by the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) that promotes the revitalization of commercial districts in the District of Columbia. Created in 2002 through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, DC Main Streets serve as the citywide coordinating program that provides services and funding for the designated Main Streets programs in the District of Columbia.

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.

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


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.


There has to be organization for us to accomplish anything!


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.


Promoting businesses helps create foot traffic


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.


Make it look pretty


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.