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CT Main Street Center Receives $150k Grant from M&T Bank’s Amplify Fund for Diversity on Main Collaborative in Partnership with Black Business Alliance

Funding Will Support Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in New London Pilot
For Immediate Release – March 1, 2024

(Hartford, CT) – The M&T Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of M&T Bank (NYSE:MTB), announced that it has awarded $150,000 to Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) for its new Diversity on Main program in partnership with the Black Business Alliance (BBA). The funds will be distributed over a two-year term beginning in 2024. The grant is part of the second round of giving through the Amplify Fund providing more than $8.2 million to 68 lead non-profit organizations throughout New England, Long Island, and Rockland County, NY.

The new Diversity on Main program will bring together CMSC’s statewide expertise in developing and sustaining vibrant downtowns with BBA’s comprehensive resources for Black-owned businesses, including education, capacity building, and technical assistance. The aim of Diversity on Main is to advance equity and support thriving and inclusive downtowns by establishing opportunities for minority-owned businesses to occupy and own main street storefronts and properties.

The Diversity on Main program will provide a framework that can be applied in any community seeking to address storefront vacancies by taking a curated approach to the type and placement of businesses. It does so by providing opportunities that will draw innovative, homegrown entrepreneurs to Connecticut’s main streets, investing in BIPOC small businesses, and removing barriers to entry. Progress will be measured through the implementation of a comprehensive GIS measurement tool that tracks vacancies, inventories current businesses, and measures foot traffic. 

Diversity on Main will launch its inaugural collaboration with the City of New London. Diversity on Main: New London is a two-year program that creates a collaborative framework with downtown stakeholders including municipal economic development, the regional Chamber of Commerce, local entrepreneur support organizations, the Cultural District Commission, property owners, and business owners, with the intention of filling vacant storefronts that will contribute to the overall economic health and vitality of New London’s downtown. CMSC will collect baseline data, convene the downtown stakeholders to activate storefront vacancies, and develop new incentive and marketing strategies. BBA will identify, place, and support entrepreneurs in downtown brick-and-mortar spaces, partnering with the main street stakeholders to create an environment that ensures their success and sustainability.

“We’re thrilled the M&T Charitable Foundation recognized the impact a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem can bring to a downtown and excited to partner with BBA to support small and minority-owned businesses in the New London area,” said Michelle McCabe, CMSC Executive Director. “This funding provides a unique opportunity to partner with BBA – an outstanding resource for black-owned businesses – and a dynamic municipality like New London to support small businesses and address vacant properties from multiple angles. Together, we’ll provide a 360-degree approach to main street economic development that prioritizes advancing equity and inclusion in the most valuable commercial areas of a town or city.”

“The Diversity on Main Collaborative allows us to bridge the gap between what black and minority-owned businesses offer and what they need from a community to thrive,” said Anne-Marie Knight, BBA Executive Director. “Working with the City of New London and its downtown stakeholders will allow us to create a template we can share with other Connecticut communities, creating a vital network of successful entrepreneurs and improving economic vitality in distressed areas.”

“The City of New London and the Office of Economic Development are thrilled to have CT Main Street Center and the Black Business Alliance anchor themselves in the heart of our downtown to promote, advance and help lead our efforts to a more bustling and vibrant central business district,” said Felix J. Reyes, New London Director of Economic Development & Planning.

About the Amplify Fund

First announced in May 2022, the Amplify Fund is a $25 million philanthropic investment as part of the merger between People’s United Bank and M&T Bank. Powered by the M&T Charitable Foundation, the Amplify Fund is a one-time supplemental charitable program to provide further support in the legacy People’s United communities. The first round of funding totaled more than $11.8 million to 105 nonprofit organizations and focused on equity and environmental initiatives, mission-driven and capacity-building work, community and tenant organizing, and financial empowerment and education for individuals and small businesses. 

Phase II of the Amplify Fund focused on providing funding, for up to three years, to nonprofit collaboratives working together toward a common goal for solving a specific social issue, to help advance equity in the following key areas of focus: 

  • Family Stability: Affordable housing, food security, and access to quality and affordable childcare.
  • Income & Wealth Equity: Employment, small business development, homeownership, and financial empowerment initiatives.
  • Workforce Development: Education and training opportunities focused on upskilling and career pathways in high-growth sectors leading to economic prosperity.
  • Health Equity: Access to quality and affordable healthcare, with a priority on youth mental health and women and infant health.

The Amplify Fund is designed to drive sustainable impact that is equitable, accessible, and responsive to local needs. Regional representatives of the bank will continue to meet with local leaders to help inform the strategic direction for the Fund’s third round. 

“Through the Amplify Fund, we are committed to continuing our partnership with organizations like Connecticut Main Street Center that work hand-in-hand with community members in the field to provide the critical resources and programming necessary to truly make a difference,” said Dominique Goss, Executive Director of the M&T Charitable Foundation. “At M&T, addressing the institutionalized and systemic issues preventing disadvantaged communities from accessing opportunities and achieving long-term success is key to our mission as a community bank. We are proud to provide the Amplify Fund as a difference-making resource in the communities we serve.” 

Learn More

For more information on CMSC, its members and programs, visit CMSC’s website. For more information on the Amplify Fund, including the full list of grant recipients in New England and Metro New York, please visit the Amplify Fund website.  

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Media Contact
Christine Schilke
Communications & Strategy Director
860-280.2356
christine@ctmainstreet.org


About Connecticut Main Street Center

CMSC is the expert resource for developing and sustaining vibrant downtowns that fuel our state’s prosperity. Our mission is to assess, educate, convene, and advocate to develop and grow our traditional downtowns, village centers, and urban mixed-use neighborhoods. We provide education and training, resources and technical assistance, and function as the statewide champion for downtowns and Main Streets of all sizes.

CMSC is supported by its Founding Sponsors, the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) and Eversource Energy. CMSC is also supported by its Growth Sponsors, UIL Holdings and the State Historic Preservation Office. More information is available at www.ctmainstreet.org

About M&T Charitable Foundation

The M&T Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of M&T Bank, is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization founded in 1993 and funded by M&T Bank. The M&T Charitable Foundation awards nearly $40 million in grants per year to thousands of nonprofit organizations focused on improving the quality of life in the areas the bank serves. M&T Bank Corporation is a financial holding company headquartered in Buffalo, New York. M&T’s principal banking subsidiary, M&T Bank, provides banking products and services in 12 states across the eastern U.S. from Maine to Virginia and Washington, D.C. Trust-related services are provided in select markets in the U.S. and abroad by M&T’s Wilmington Trust-affiliated companies and by M&T Bank. For more information on M&T Bank, visit www.mtb.com. 


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