Commonwealth Places

Background Information

MassDevelopment’s “Commonwealth Places” is a competitive opportunity to advance locally driven placemaking in downtown and neighborhood commercial districts in eligible communities throughout Massachusetts. Placemaking is a collaborative process through which people in communities work together to improve public spaces and maximize their shared value. The process facilitates creative patterns of use, and leverages the local physical, cultural, and social assets that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.

Funding Categories

The Commonwealth Places program will make awards through two funding categories:

Category 1 Seed Grants: Impactful placemaking and/or placekeeping is a community-driven process. Seed grants should be used to fund inclusive community engagement, visioning, and local capacity-building that will support future placemaking efforts. MassDevelopment will award individual grants of between $2,500 and $15,000 to projects within this funding category. Grants made within this category of work require a 1:1 local match, either cash or in-kind. Eligible in-kind matches may include: volunteer work, staff time, relevant planning and coordinated activities by organizing entities, or any equipment, goods, or services contributed that would have been eligible costs under this funding category.

Category 2 Implementation Grants: MassDevelopment will award individual grants of between $5,000 and $50,000 for the implementation of locally led placemaking projects. Grants made within this category of work require a 1:1 local match. In-kind contributions will not be counted towards the local match requirement for Implementation Grants.

Program Overview Presentation Slides

Program Overview Webinar Recording


Timeline and Awards

Activities in Calendar Year 2022

To apply for projects to begin implemented before December 31, 2022, please complete the application form below and submit it by 5 p.m. on Friday, September 30, 2022. Our program team will be in touch with questions and any feedback regarding the proposal (if needed) prior to your application’s review. 
Please note: this funding round is available only to non-profits, community groups, and for-profit businesses with projects that provide a public benefit; all implementation grants funded in calendar year 2022 must be matched through crowdfunding. 

2022 Guidelines

Apply for 2022 funding here


Activities in Calendar Year 2023 and Beyond

To apply for projects to be implemented in 2023 and beyond, this program is accessible through the Community One Stop for Growth, a single online application portal designed to allow applicants to apply for consideration of multiple sources of funding to support multiple phases and facets of a project. 

Please note: Commonwealth Places will now also accept applications from municipal governments for programming to take place in 2023. Additionally, the program will allow greater flexibility with regards to eligible matching funds sources.

Applications can be submitted through One Stop between May 2 and June 3, 2022.

2023 Guidelines

Apply for 2023 funding here

Application Guidance: To apply to Commonwealth Places in the One Stop: Commonwealth Places is included in the “Community Capacity Building” Section of the One Stop. To apply for 2023 programs, in the Full Application, select “Community Capacity Building” in questions 2.1 Section 2: Program Information, then choose “Placemaking” in the question 3.2 in Community Capacity Building Section.

For more information contact:

Nick Giaquinto, TDI District Partnership Officer
Commonwealth Places Program Manager


Background Information

What is Placemaking?
Placemaking aims to improve the quality of public places and the lives of communities through a participatory process. While urban design and economic development is central to placemaking, the most significant component is the community process and programming that can facilitate social interaction, spark public discourse and increase local capacity and engagement. Increasingly, placemaking has been used to revitalize commercial districts using these small, community-driven investments that leverage economic growth and development.

What is Crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is an increasingly used tool by which private organizations and public entities are able to fund projects ranging from consumer products to public space improvements. This, in effect, has democratized the raising of capital by allowing the public to monetarily support initiatives. Simply, it allows the public to vote with their wallets. By tapping a large donor pool for small donations, organizations are able to better leverage funds. Further, crowdfunding engages the public to play a part in achieving community improvements and instills community pride as residents become invested in their surroundings.

What is the Community One Stop for Growth?
This program is part of the Community One Stop for Growth, a single online application portal designed to allow applicants to apply for consideration of multiple sources of funding to support multiple phases and facets of a project. This process will streamline the experience for the applicant and better coordinate programs and staff on engagement and grant making. It will also reorient the state from a passive reviewer of funding requests to an active partner in economic development strategy, priorities, and investment. Access to this program is now exclusively available through the One Stop.