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New Tourism Initiative Grants and Tourism Project Grants

Grants to New York Nonprofits for Events, Exhibits, and
Projects that Promote Tourism in Tompkins County

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Tompkins County

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Grants ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 to New York nonprofit organizations for new and established projects that promote tourism in Tompkins County. Eligible projects are those that demonstrate a strong likelihood of attracting overnight visitors.

Funding is intended to support projects that are likely to motivate many visitors to stay overnight in Tompkins County hotels and bed and breakfasts, and that are likely to implement key strategies identified in the 2020 Tompkins County Strategic Tourism Plan. Projects funded in the past through these grants include events, exhibits, and projects of lasting value that support a strong tourism infrastructure.

Proposed projects must demonstrate the strong likelihood of significant visitor attendance or participation and increased visitor spending and overnight stays in County hotels, motels, and B&Bs. The primary focus is on out-of-county attendance from areas at least 90 miles from Ithaca, including major cities and small towns. Projects limited to serving the local community without a strategy for growth and regional outreach are not likely to be funded.

Tompkins County will give priority to projects that hold potential to draw visitors during the mid-week and/or from mid-November through April.

Funding is available for New Tourism Initiative Grants and The Tompkins County Tourism Program:

New Tourism Initiative Grants support projects that generate significant amounts of new tourism in Tompkins County. New Tourism Initiatives must have occurred for less than three years in a row and be produced by not-for-profit organizations or municipalities. Not-for-profit organizations that have been in existence for longer than three years may apply for a New Tourism Initiative Grant if the project is truly a new concept and falls outside the current range of activities undertaken by the organization. It must also be designed to be an annual or lasting tourism generator.

Tourism Project Grant: Projects that mainly serve to enhance the value of current tourism offerings, or that are single projects of organizations that have been in existence for longer than three years and are in line with similar offerings that they have presented in the past, should apply for a Tourism Project Grant.

Allowable uses of funds include, but are not limited to, the following examples:

a. Expenses associated with temporary and permanent exhibits to include design, construction, and interpretive materials;
b. Public art acquisition;
c. Partial support of artistic salaries for notable talent, whose presence will generate significant out-of-town visitor attendance/participation;
d. Interpretive materials for significant natural, historic, or architectural assets;
e. An additional short-term staff position, or increased hours for current part-time staff, for the duration of the project.

The Tompkins County Tourism Program is interested in responding to applications that demonstrate strong partnerships and community support. Preference will be given to organizations and projects that outline a strong marketing strategy.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 175720

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

For the Spring 2018 round, there is a total of $80,900 available in New Tourism Initiative Grant funding and $105,373 in Tourism Project Grant funding. The maximum request is $25,000, and the minimum request is $1,000. Historically, few projects have received the maximum award.

Term of Contract:

Apply in the spring grant round for projects with major activities beginning anytime between May of the year that the application is due and April of the following year.

Applications for New Tourism Initiative Grants may be made annually, for a maximum of three years. There is no guarantee of multi-year support.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Requests are accepted from 501(c)3 not-for-profit entities, only for non-sectarian projects. Collaboration between for-profit and not-for-profit organizations is permitted as long as the lead agent is eligible under NY State Municipal Law to receive funding from a County.

Large capital requests (for the purchase of property or the construction, remodeling, or expansion of a facility) are not eligible under this program.

Requests for general operating support will not be accepted.

Requests for retroactive support will not be accepted. Any expenses accrued on a project before a grant is awarded by the Tompkins County Legislature will be considered ineligible.

Other Limitations:

- Equipment Rental and Purchase. With limited exceptions, purchase of equipment with grant funds is disallowed; only the rental of equipment is permitted.
- Fundraising Events. Applications will typically not be accepted for events whose primary purpose is to actively raise funds for a specific cause.
- Entertainment Costs. Grant funds may not be used to cover general entertainment costs such as for theater parties, museum receptions, etc.
- Events Only Open to Members and Faith Congregations. Membership in an organization must not be required in order to participate in or benefit from the project.
- Conferences and Gatherings for a Specific Interest Group. Groups offering conferences or gatherings in Tompkins County targeting very specific and limited interests should work through the Ithaca Tompkins County CVB to obtain conference services. These gatherings are not eligible for support from this program.

Pre-proposal Conference:

Tompkins County Festivals Program Presents: FREE Event Planning Workshops

WEEK 1 | BEGINNER TRACK: Wednesday, March 7, 2018
WEEK 2 | ADVANCED TRACK: Wednesday, March 28, 2018

9:00 - 3:00 PM each day at Cinemapolis Movie Theatre in Downtown Ithaca

Who should attend?

- Individuals and groups applying for STPB Room Tax grant funding
- Any event planners looking to do projects in 2018
- Groups and organizations interested in considering new events or growing existing ones
- Anyone interested in learning more about event coordinator responsibilities and planning.

New event planners are encouraged to attend both workshop days. Intermediate and professional organizers with experience are welcome to attend both as well, but may find the March 28th workshop to be most valuable.

Register using the link in Contact Information below.

Pre-Application Information:

Applications are due online by 11am, Monday, March 19, 2018.

In-depth application support will be available through the grant administrator no later than Wednesday, January 24, 2018.

The Ithaca Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau is available to provide technical assistance related to your marketing campaign. Applicants, both new and returning, are invited to review their marketing plans with Peggy Coleman, VP Tourism & Community Relations.

Applicants should contact the United Way to create a new account and with technical questions connected to the Apricot online grant management system.

During an expected staffing gap in February, when there will be no Tourism Program Director in place, Peggy Coleman of the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), will be available to review marketing plans and advise applicants on their marketing campaigns or answer in-depth questions about the Tourism Marketing and Advertising Grant program.

Applicants requesting support for a festival or event are strongly encouraged to take advantage of resources provided by the Tompkins County Festivals Program:

- Annual event management workshops on various topics. Led by the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and Tompkins County Tourism Program.
- Technical event assistance. Topics of individualized technical assistance include, but are not limited to, budgeting and fundraising, site planning and permitting, volunteer management, site management, succession planning, etc.
- Event equipment loan service
- Tompkins County event vendor lists
- Tompkins County event planning manual (see link below and pdf in Supporting Documents)

Contact Allison Graffin for more information on these resources.

A minimum 2/3 match is required; grant requests shall not exceed 33% (1/3) of budgeted expenses. If applying simultaneously for a Tourism Marketing & Advertising Grant, the TOTAL request from both sources must not exceed 33% (1/3) of the project budget.

Event Planning Manual:

Tourism Marketing Tips and Tactics:

General information on the Tourism Program:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Register for event workshops:

Online application portal:

Tom Knipe, Principal Planner / Tourism Program Director, (until January 24, 2018)

Peggy Coleman
Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB)

United Way contact information:

Kelsey Rossbach:
Samantha Granison:
Phone: (607-272-6286)

Allison Graffin
Downtown Ithaca Alliance

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: New York: Tompkins County