Alliance Offers Five-Figure Grants to Those Who Talk the Talk
The Downtown Alliance is now accepting applications for its Walking Tour Incubator Grant Program, which will award grants of up to $12,500 each to five entrepreneurs to develop new walking tours in Lower Manhattan.
“So much of New York City’s history has taken place in Lower Manhattan, with every block offering a rich tapestry of stories,” says Alliance president Jessica Lappin. “This incubator program will present tour operators with the chance to shine the spotlight on the fascinating stories that have previously been overlooked and to provide New Yorkers and visitors alike with fresh perspectives on the neighborhood.”
Applicants will be judged by their ability to run a business and their familiarity with tourism—either in New York City at large, or specifically in Lower Manhattan. (Experience operating a walking tour is not required, but established operators wishing to start or improve upon a Lower Manhattan tour are welcome to apply.) The Alliance is seeking entrepreneurs to develop a program that can be sustained in Lower Manhattan for at least one year.
Additional criteria include being located close enough to the community to effectively run a localized tour seven days a week, and aiming not only to launch a walking tour business, but to scale it beyond a one-person operation.
Preference will be accorded to proposals that transcend the usual ambit of Downtown highlights, such as the role of the financial industry in Lower Manhattan’s evolution. Proposers are encouraged to incorporate any area south of Chambers Street (including Battery Park City, the South Street Seaport and Governors Island) and to embrace the broadest possible range of subjects.
Aspirants are urged to formulate walking tour ideas that are compelling and original, and touch on a wide variety of subjects. Possible examples include running tours, food tours, and historical tours. BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented groups to encouraged to apply.
Submissions are due by April 10, and five winners will be announced on April 15. These designees will each receive an initial grant of $7,500, with a possible additional installment of $5,000 based on meeting performance metrics. Winners will also be given two one-on-one sessions with tourism industry leaders, and access to an educational curriculum specifically designed for tour businesses, along with logistical support from the Alliance. The program is slated to begin on May 10.