The National Main Street Center leads a movement committed to strengthening communities through preservation-based economic development in older and historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. Learn more at

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About the Award

Since its founding, the Main Street program’s success has depended upon the commitment and vision of local Main Street directors. To celebrate these directors and recognize the outstanding leadership of the Main Street program’s own founder, Main Street America is introducing the Mary Means Leadership Award (named in recognition of Mary Means, the Main Street program's founder).

Annually at the Main Street Now conference, the award will be a celebration of one outstanding local leader per year and will simultaneously showcase a wide range of exemplary Main Street director nominees who have made significant impact on their communities. 

We invite all Coordinating Programs to submit a nomination (limit one per Coordinating Program) and the winner will be selected among the pool of those nominees by a jury consisting of members of the Coordinators' Leadership Council, NMSC staff, and Mary Means. For now, please keep your nomination a secret! Nominees will be announced in advance of the Main Street Now Conference and the recipient will be announced at the Opening Plenary.

Nominating Criteria:

  • Nominee must be currently employed as Main Street Executive Director or Manager; 
  • Nominee must have been in current position for a minimum of 3 years;
  • Nominee's organization must be an Accredited Main Street America Program;
  • Nomination should identify how the nominee:
  1. Builds local capacity
  2. Leads through strategy
  3. Exhibits innovation and ingenuity
  4. Brings together diverse stakeholders through shared vision
  5. Demonstrates commitment to continuous learning
  6. Advances a preservation ethic in their work

Thank you for your interest in writing for the Main Street America blog. Our blog is crucial to advancing our mission of revitalizing older and historic districts and demonstrating our commitment to place and building stronger communities. We welcome guest bloggers to share success stories from around the network, provide unique perspectives on industry trends and thought leadership, and offer tools and strategies to help commercial district practitioners lead results-oriented revitalization efforts.

In advance of filling out this form, please review our guest blogging guidelines.  

Questions? Please email

Background Information

The National Main Street Center is pleased to offer two full scholarships to the Main Street America Institute, a professional development program designed for revitalization professionals implementing the Main Street Approach, in honor of two of NMSC’s distinguished former board members, Mary Thompson and David J. Brown. 

Mary Thompson’s career in commercial district revitalization has spanned over 40 years, crossing a variety of geographies and in many roles. In 1984, Mary created what is now the Washington Main Street program and went on to spur state-wide programs in California, Arizona and Hawaii, as well as taking on a role working for the National Main Street Center. She has also served as the State Historic Preservation Officer for Washington state, a preservation professor, and on numerous boards.

David J. Brown has dedicated his career to the advancement of preservation in local, state-wide, and national roles. Most recently, he served as the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s founding Chief Preservation Officer, where he led the organization’s programmatic work, including the successful campaign to retain the Historic Tax Credit during the 2017 tax reform process. Prior to working with the National Trust, David was the founding executive director of the Virginia Preservation Alliance as well as serving as the director of the Historic Staunton Foundation, in the Great American Main Street award-winning community of Staunton, Virginia.

Mary and David’s contributions to the Main Street movement have shaped the field to what it is today. As a celebration of their careers and commitment to this work, these full scholarships to the Main Street America Institute will help develop the next generation of Main Street leaders.

The Main Street America Institute’s full suite of educational offerings include online and in-person trainings across the Main Street Four Points, with an emphasis on district Transformation Strategies and Leadership Development designed for commercial corridor managers. Upon successful completion of all coursework and a rigorous final examination, participants will receive both the Leadership Development certificate and the Community Transformation certificate, as well as the Main Street America Revitalization Professional (MSARP) credential, the highest achievement available through the MSAI. This scholarship opportunity is valued at $4,150. 

Each scholarship will include:

· Participation in ten (10) online courses

· Participation in two (2) in person workshops

· Fees associated with the MSARP Final Exam.

Please note: the scholarship does not cover travel expenses to the two in-person workshops. Depending on the location, combined travel expenses are estimated to be approximately $1500 for hotels, travel and meals.

Scholarship recipients will have flexibility to complete coursework over a 24-month time-frame and should show progress through successful, timely course completion to maintain the scholarship. MSAI staff will ensure that participants are kept aware of progress and provide support as needed throughout.

Application Criteria

Successful applicants for this full scholarship opportunity will demonstrate a commitment to the pursuit of a career in commercial corridor revitalization with an emphasis on historic preservation and community engagement. Though a specific educational background is not required, ideal candidates will have 2-3 years of experience in their Main Street role and a passion for the position. Applicants will also show a desire to complete the full credential program, with the support of both their Main Street coordinating program and their local program board. 

Application Process

Applicants should complete the form below by December 15, 2019. Decisions will be made by the first week of January 2020 with online course offerings beginning immediately thereafter by a committee including our honorees, Mary Thompson and David J. Brown.

Program Overview and Application Instructions

Small businesses are vital to thriving communities. They help strengthen and diversify neighborhoods and provide pathways for innovation and entrepreneurship. But the retail landscape is changing. That’s why American Express® is teaming up with Main Street America to give 10 small business owners $10,000 each to help their businesses innovate in this evolving retail landscape. The American Express Future of Shopping Small Grant Program will celebrate small businesses across the country that are a vital part of their community, have demonstrated new approaches to traditional business strategies, and those businesses looking to try out creative techniques.

Grant recipients should demonstrate commitment to both their local community and principles described in American Express’ Future of Shopping Small Guide. With insights garnered from WGSN, the Future of Shopping Small Guide is filled with actionable tips to help small business owners begin to future-proof their businesses. This guide is available here

To be eligible, entrants must complete the entire application (except for the optional demographics portion) and review the program terms and conditions (LINK TO T&Cs). Taking applications through March 31, 2020. 

All applications will be judged based on the following criteria:

Big Idea 

Idea for use of grant funding represents compelling value proposition, innovation, and replicability/scalability.


Proposed idea represents innovative approach to retail and/or connects to principles outlined in American Express' Future of Shopping Small guide. 

Community Impact 

Business demonstrates a commitment to giving back to community and/or community engagement.


Proposed idea is feasible/reasonable given grant amount.

For questions, please contact

National Main Street Center