2024 Program Overview

The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership was awarded $250,000 by American Express to provide direct grants to help Black owned and/or operated businesses and attractions along Route 66. The funds are also designed to support research and programs that interpret and tell the stories of Black experiences associated with Route 66.  

Goals of the Route 66 Black Experience Grant Program include:

  • Helping Black owned/operated Route 66 Businesses/Attractions stay in operation.
  • Helping Black owned/operated Route 66 Businesses/Attractions reopen.
  • Helping preserve, restore and/or expand Black owned/operated Route 66 Businesses/Attractions, per Secretary of the Interior Standards: Learn More
  • Helping new, Black owned/operated Route 66 Businesses/Attractions open.
  • Supporting research, preservation, and/or interpretation of Black experiences and sites along Route 66, especially ones related to the Green Book.

For additional information regarding the grant program’s timeline, eligibility requirements, review criteria, etc. access the "Program Guidelines" below as well as access the "Frequently Asked Questions" section.

Participation Steps

Review the three steps below to learn more, prepare your submission and submit your online grant application form.

STEP 1. Read the Program Guidelines

Black Experiences Grant Program Purpose & Guidelines

Purpose

The Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program seeks to support businesses and attractions that are majority owned or operated by African Americans, that are located along Route 66. 

Background

The Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program is part of the Road Ahead Partnership’s efforts to celebrate the upcoming Route 66 Centennial by helping the millions of people who live, work, and travel the Mother Road.  Through private fund-raising efforts, including a major gift from American Express, the Road Ahead Partnership will award up to $50,000 via the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant program. There will be three grant rounds:

Goals

Goals of the Route 66 Black Experience Grant Program include:

  • Helping Black owned/operated Route 66 Businesses/Attractions stay in operation.
  • Helping Black owned/operated Route 66 Businesses/Attractions reopen.
  • Helping preserve, restore and/or expand Black owned/operated Route 66 Businesses/Attractions, per Secretary of the Interior Standards: Learn More
  • Helping new, Black owned/operated Route 66 Businesses/Attractions open.
  • Supporting research, preservation, and/or interpretation of Black experiences and sites along Route 66, especially ones related to the Green Book.

Awards

A total of $250,000 will be awarded over five years from 2022 thru 2026. The first $50,000 in awards were made in 2022 and another round of $50,000 in 2023. . A total of $50,000 [10 awards of up to $,5000 each] will be awarded in 2024, then again in 2025, and 2026. 

 

Business Eligibility and Non-Eligibility

Businesses and attractions that are eligible to apply include those that: 

  • Are wholly or majority (at least 51%) Black-owned or Black-operated.
  • Are physically located on a Route 66 alignment (i.e., a “brick-and-mortar” location) and/or operate in a Route 66 neighborhood or community.
  • Employ fewer than 20 full-time employees (including the company owners).
  • Are a registered business entity in good standing in the state where they were formed and the state in which they do business.
  • Independently travel the road, serving other businesses/attractions along Route 66, including, for example: small tour operators, suppliers with Route 66 as their sales region, etc. 
  • Small, locally owned franchises with 5 or less locations.

Businesses and attractions that are not eligible to apply include those that are:

  • Digital-only businesses (digital includes, without limitation, online and application-based businesses or attractions).
  • Part of a large national franchise (i.e. 6 or more locations and/or a chain that serves areas primarily outside of the Route 66 corridor).

Eligible Activities

Activities for which grant applications can be submitted include, but are not limited to: 

Business/Organization Improvement/Sustainability

  • Purchase of equipment or furnishings.
  • Materials and services such as printing, photographs, telephone, and supplies.
  • For non-profit organizations, organizational capacity building activities such as hiring fundraising consultants, conducting board training, etc.
  • Development of promotional materials (either physical or virtual).
  • Updates to websites for better operations and communications.
  • Mailing costs for distribution of materials or merchandise.

Historic Preservation Planning/Work

  • Fees for consultant services (such as architect, preservation architect, contractor, consultant to produce a business plan or marketing plan, web or app designer, landscaper or landscape architect, etc).
  • Building, construction, repair, or maintenance activities (work needs to meet preservation standards and/or maintain the historic integrity of the building).
  • Public-facing improvements to the business or attraction, including, but not limited to: murals, awnings, lighting, signage upgrades, painting or cleaning of interior or exterior, creation of indoor or outdoor seating areas, etc.

Telling the Story

  • Acquisition of objects designed for public display, and that relate to the history/heritage of the property.
  • Fees for speakers or trainings.
  • Partnering with local artists for a community event or mural. 
  • General support for community meetings and gatherings, such as sponsoring a community gathering or community educational event to celebrate a historical or cultural moment that is meaningful to the neighborhood. Can include costs for catering, food & beverage, entertainment at these gatherings or meetings.

Accessibility/Community Outreach

  • Enhancing a building or space to align it with ADA accessibility standards.
  • Language translation of menus, websites, or other materials to be more inclusive and accessible to diverse local customers and audiences.

Sustainability

  • Innovations to improve sustainability of a building or attraction, such as reducing energy consumption or food waste.

Program Timelines

The 2024 Round of the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program will follow this timeline:

  • Grant Application must be received via online application by midnight [in the applicant’s time zone] on Jun 2, 2024.
  • Grant Awards will be announced the week of June 24, 2024.
  • Final Reports are due within 90 days of completion of a project .

Grant Application Review Criteria

Black Experiences Grant Projects will be reviewed based on how they:

  • Help a Black owned or operated Route 66 business or attraction remains in operation.
  • Help a Black owned or operated Route 66 business or attraction reopen.
  • Preserve, restore, and/or expand a Black owned or operated Route 66 business or attraction, per Secretary of the Interior Standards or maintenance of a building’s historic integrity.
  • Help open new, Black owned or operated Route 66 business or attraction.
  • Supporting research, preservation, and/or interpetation of Black experiences and sites along Route 66, especially ones realted to the Green Book.

Grant Application Review Preferences

When grant award decision are made, preference will be given to businesses or attractions that:

  • Are small, independently owned, and/or located in an historic or older building or neighborhood in a Route 66 town
  • Contribute to the history and/or identity of the surrounding community or neighborhood and/or Route 66.
  • Have a compelling or inspiring inclusive historic narrative or cultural significance.
  • Have been disproportionately impacted by economic challenges, disasters, or other hardships.
  • Did not receive a grant through the Route 66 Black Experience Grant Program within the last 12 months.
  • Include a 50% or more funding match for the project, contributed by the business or attraction.
  • Help expand knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of Black experiences along Route 66.
  • Businesses and attractions located directly on a Route 66 alignment.

Guidelines

  • Registered not-for-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) status must provide their IRS letter of determination.
  • The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership does not and shall not discriminate because of race, color, religion [creed], gender, gender expression, age, national origin [ancestry], disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status in any of its activities or operations. Decisions regarding grant awards are based on guidelines that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Only fully completed grant applications, received on time per program deadlines, will be processed and reviewed for consideration of a grant award.
  • All grant application materials submitted become the property of the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program. Grant applications will not be returned. 
  • The Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program Review Committee may request additional information to assist in its evaluation of an application.
  • The Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program Review Committee reserves the right to increase or decrease grant awards made per each grant program round, based on the number and quality of eligible grant applications received. 
  • The Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program Review Committee reserves the right to reject any and all applications, in whole or in part, at any time and from time to time, in its sole discretion.
  • Grantees are responsible for the proper expenditure of funds and for maintaining supporting documents that provide full and complete disclosure of the use of grant funds, should such records be requested with a project’s Final Report. 
  • There is no guarantee that any business or attraction will receive funding. Applicants who submit qualified applications, but do not receive funding - due to insufficient funding or lower review scores compared to other applications – may submit applications to future rounds of the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program. 
  • Grant funds awarded cannot be used in support of any political campaign, election activities, or other political activity. 
  • In most instances, grant funds to individuals are counted as taxable income on the recipient’s federal tax return. Please contact your accountant if you have questions.
  • If there are significant changes to a business or attraction’s structure or personnel during the grant period, the grant applicant shall notify the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program of the change in writing.
  • Privacy: Information provided through the application process is the responsibility of each applicant. Applications submitted to Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program will remain confidential to the general public and any fellow applicants. Applicants will not hold the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership’s officers, employees, and/or agents liable for any losses, damages, costs, or expenses of any kind relating to the use or the adequacy, accuracy, or completeness of any information submitted via the application process. 
  • Conflict of Interest: Current directors, officers, employees and contractors of the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership, Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program Review Committee, and such individuals' family members (spouse, parents, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and spouses of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) are not eligible to receive an award. 
  • Publicity: If awarded, please be advised that the business or attraction’s application information, name, statements, and other information provided during the application process may be used for promotional purposes in all forms and media and the business or attraction may be contacted by the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership for such purposes. Applications to the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program entails a perpetual license to use such information without additional compensation (except where prohibited by law), and without any right to review and/or approve such content. Until notified, applicants must agree not to share any status as a grant recipient publicly, including but not limited to all social media platforms, news media, or local publications.

Grant Application Form

Scroll down the form and fill in the fields.

Frequently Asked Questions

    We have organized the most common Frequently asked questions that come up when applying for a Route 66 Black Experience Grant.  They are worth reviewing as you make your application.

    Q: What is the purpose of the Route 66 Black Experience Grant Program?

    The Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program seeks to support businesses and attractions that are majority owned or operated by African Americans, that are located along Route 66. 

    Q: What are the Goals of the Route 66 Black experiences Grant Program?

    Goals of the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program include:

    • Helping Black owned/operated Route 66 Businesses/Attractions stay in operation.
    • Helping Black owned/operated Route 66 Businesses/Attractions reopen.
    • Helping preserve, restore and/or expand Black owned/operated Route 66 Businesses/Attractions, per Secretary of the Interior Standards. 
    • Helping new, Black owned/operated Route 66 Businesses/Attractions open.
    • Supporting research, preservation, and/or interpretation of Black experiences and sites along Route 66, especially ones related to the Green Book.

    Q: Why was the Route 66 Black experiences Grant Program Established?

    The Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program is part of the Road Ahead Partnership’s efforts to celebrate the upcoming Route 66 Centennial by helping the millions of people who live, work, and travel the Mother Road.  

    Q: How Much Money will the Route 66 Black experiences Grant Program Award?

    Through private fund-raising efforts, along with support from American Express, the Road Ahead Partnership will award up to $250,000 via the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program, over grant five rounds between 2022-2024. 

    Q: Do I need to Provide Any Matching Funds for my Project?

    Match funds from the property owner, applicant, or other sources are welcome, but are not required to apply for the grant program.

    Q: How Long do I have to Complete a Project Funded by the Route 66 Black experiences Grant Program?

    Grantees must complete their projects within 12 months of the date they receive their funding. A final report on the project will be due within 90 days after the project is completed.

    Q. What is the Schedule for Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program?

    Five rounds of the program will be conducted from 2022-2026. Maximum grant awards will be $5,000.00, with up to 10 grant awards made per each round of the program.

    Q: When Will Decisions be Made and Grants Awarded in 2024?

    The grant schedule includes:

    • Grant Application must be received via the online application by midnight [in the Applicant’s time zone] June 2, 2024
    • Grant Awards will be announced the week June 24, 2024. 

    Q: When Will Grant Award Checks Be Distributed?

    Before checks are distributed, grant award recipients are required to submit the following items:

    • Signed W9 Form.
    • 1-2 photos of the grant recipient with Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program Award Certificate.
    • 2-3 Sentences describing the impact of the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant.

    Q: What Businesses, Organizations, and Attractions are ELIGIBLE to Submit an Application to the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program?

    Businesses and attractions that are eligible to apply include those that:

    • Are wholly or majority (at least 51%) African-American -owned or -operated.
    • Are physically located on a Route 66 alignment (i.e., a “brick-and-mortar” location) and/or operate in a Route 66 neighborhood or community.
    • Employ fewer than 20 full-time employees (including the company owners).
    • Are a registered business entity in good standing in the state where they were formed and the state in which they do business.
    • Supporting research, preservation, and/or interpretation of Black experiences and sites along Route 66, especially ones related to the Green Book.
    • Small, locally owned franchises with 5 or less locations.

    Q: What Businesses, Organizations, and Attractions are NOT ELIGIBLE to Submit an Application to the the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program?

    Businesses and attractions that are not eligible to apply include those that are:

    • Digital-only businesses (digital includes, without limitation, online and application-based businesses or attractions).
    • Part of a national franchise (small locally owned franchises with less than 5 locations are eligible).

    Q: What are examples of eligible activities an application can be submited for? 

    Activities for which grant applications can be submitted include, but are not limited to:

    Business/Organization Improvement/Sustainability

    • Purchase of equipment or furnishings
    • Materials and services such as printing, photographs, telephone, and supplies
    • For non-profit organizations, organizational capacity building activities such as hiring fundraising consultants, conducting board training, etc.
    • Development of promotional materials (either physical or virtual)
    • Updates to websites for better operations and communications
    • Mailing costs for distribution of materials or merchandise

    Historic Preservation Planning/Work

    • Fees for consultant services (such as architect, preservation architect, contractor, consultant to produce a business plan or marketing plan, web or app designer, landscaper, or landscape architect, etc).
    • Building, construction, repair, or maintenance activities (work needs to meet preservation standards and/or maintain the historic integrity of the building).
    • Public-facing improvements to the business or attraction, including, but not limited to: murals, awnings, lighting, signage upgrades, painting or cleaning of interior or exterior, creation of indoor or outdoor seating areas, etc.

    Telling the Story

    • Acquisition of objects designed for display, that relate to the history/heritage of the property.
    • Fees for speakers or trainings.
    • Partnering with local artists for a community event or mural. 
    • General support for community meetings and gatherings, such as sponsoring a community gathering or community educational event to celebrate a historical or cultural moment that is meaningful to the neighborhood. Can include costs for catering, food & beverage, entertainment at these gatherings or meetings.

    Accessibility/Community Outreach

    • Enhancing a building or space to align it with ADA accessibility standards.
    • Language translation of menus, websites, or other materials to be more inclusive and accessible.

    Sustainability

    • Innovations to improve sustainability, such as reducing energy consumption or food waste

    Q: What Review Criteria will be Used to Evaluate Grant Application to the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program?

    Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program projects will be reviewed based on how they:

    • Help an African-American owned or operated Route 66 business or attraction remain in operation.
    • Help an African-American owned or operated Route 66 business or attraction reopen.
    • Help open new, African-American owned or operated Route 66 business or attraction.

    Q: Will Any Preferences be Considered During the Review of Grant Applications to the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program?

    When grant award decision are made, preference will be given to businesses or attractions that:

    • Are small, independently owned, and/or located in an historic or older building or neighborhood in a Route 66 community.
    • Contribute to the history and/or identity of the surrounding community or neighborhood and/or Route 66.
    • Have a compelling or inspiring inclusive historic narrative or cultural significance.
    • Have been disproportionately impacted by economic challenges, disasters, or other hardships.
    • Did not receive a grant through the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program within the last 12 months.
    • Include a 50% or more funding match for the project, contributed by the business or attraction.
    • Businesses and attractions located directly on a Route 66 alignment. 

    Q: How Do I Submit an Application to the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program?

    Complete and submit applications online at: https://roadahead.route66centennial.org/
    You will receive an acknowledgement after you submit your application and, if relevant, a request for any additional information desired by the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Review Committee.

    Q: What Guidelines Must Businesses and Attractions Follow per the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program?

    The guidelines are:

    • Registered not-for-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) status must provide their IRS letter of determination.
    • The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership does not and shall not discriminate based on race, color, religion [creed], gender, gender expression, age, national origin [ancestry], disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status in any of its activities or operations. Decisions regarding grant awards are based on guidelines that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
    • Only fully completed grant applications, received on time per program deadlines, will be processed and reviewed for consideration of a grant award.
    • All grant application materials submitted become the property of the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program. Grant applications will not be returned. 
    • The Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program Review Committee may request additional information to assist in its evaluation of an application.
    • The Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program Review Committee reserves the right to increase or decrease grant awards made per each grant program round, based on the number and quality of eligible grant applications received. 
    • The Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program Review Committee reserves the right to reject any and all applications, in whole or in part, at any time and from time to time, in its sole discretion.
    • Grantees are responsible for the proper expenditure of funds and for maintaining supporting documents that provide full and complete disclosure of the use of grant funds, should such records be requested with a project’s Final Report. 
    • There is no guarantee that any business or attraction will receive funding. Applicants who submit qualified applications, but do not receive funding - due to insufficient funding or lower review scores compared to other applications – may submit applications to future rounds of the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program. 
    • Grant funds awarded cannot be used in support of any political campaign, election activities, or other political activity. 
    • In most instances, grant funds to individuals are counted as taxable income on the recipient’s federal tax return. Please contact your accountant if you have questions.
    • If there are significant changes to a business or attraction’s structure or personnel during the grant period, the grant applicant shall notify the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program of each applicant. Applications submitted to Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program will remain confidential to the general public and any fellow applicants. Applicants will not hold the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership’s officers, employees, and/or agents liable for any losses, damages, costs, or expenses of any kind relating to the use or the adequacy, accuracy, or completeness of any information submitted via the application process. 
    • Conflict of Interest: Current directors, officers, employees and contractors of the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership, Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program Review Committee, and such individuals' family members (spouse, parents, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and spouses of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) are not eligible to receive an award. 
    • Publicity: If awarded, please be advised that the business or attraction’s application information, name, statements, and other information provided during the application process may be used for promotional purposes in all forms and media and the business or attraction may be contacted by the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership for such purposes. Applications to the Route 66 Black Experiences Grant Program entails a perpetual license to use such information without additional compensation (except where prohibited by law), and without any right to review and/or approve such content. Until notified, applicants must agree not to share any status as a grant recipient publicly, including but not limited to all social media platforms, news media, or local publications.
    • Businesses and attractions located directly on a Route 66 alignment. 

    2022 Program Report

    Seven projects across Route 66 received Black Experiences Grant Awards in 2022. Combined, they are making a positive impact by helping retain and sustain Black owned/operated businesses along Route 66 and by better interpreting and telling Black stories associated with Route 66. 
     

    List of 2022 Awardees

    ProjectDescription
    Flagstaff's Lived Black Experiences on 66 ProjectFund ongoing research, preservation, and interpretation of oral histories collected over the past 12 years by Dr. Ricardo Guthrie at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona - and develop heritage site materials for virtual and physical tours centered around key sites that are significant to the Lived Black Experience on Route 66.
    Mes Place soul Food Kitchen & Joplin African American History Center ProjectPhase I of a 3 phase project to transition from a full service café into the new "MEs Place Soulfood Kitchen & Joplin African-American History Center", located in Joplin, Missouri.
    Interactive Green Book Route 66 ProjectDesign and development of a new 'Digital Green-Book" highlighting current Black-owned business and attractions along Route 66.
    Threatt Filling Station Restoration ProjectRetain a Historic Preservation Architect to oversee construction work being done to restore the Theatt Filling Station in Luther, OK - purportedly the only African-American owned/operated gas station on Route 66 during the Jim Crow period. 
    Route History Junior Historian ProjectTrain 250 students as "Route History Junior Historians", using a curriculum focused on African-American experiences along Route 66 - targeting grades 3-8 in Springfield, Illinois. 
    After the Peanut ProjectFund a research project used to produce a short documentary depicting contributions made by Black farmers along Route 66 in Will County, Illinois . 
    GBCC - Green Book Cannabis Company ProjectEnhance the curbside appeal of the Greenbook Canabis Company building located in El Reno, Oklahoma.

    2023 Program Report

    Ten projects across Route 66 received Black Experiences Grant Awards in 2023. Again, they are making a positive impact by helping retain and sustain Black owned/operated businesses along Route 66 and by better interpreting and telling Black stories associated with Route 66. 

     

    List of 2022 Awardees

    ProjectDesciptionAwardees
    The Waxx BratCover basic overhead costs such as rent and purchase supplies for this skin care business
    Donielle DantzlerAcquire new trailer for food truck business
    Threatt Filling Station Foundation Complete Phase I and Phase II of Threatt Family Farm & Filling Station Restoration Project
    The Minnie Hackney Community Service Charitable FoundationUpgrade ADA compliance at this community center that offers meeting space, civic classes, services for the elderly, and resources for the needy.
    Tameka Lawson (Walton)Documentary focused on  cultural heritage of the Latino community and how it is intertwined with the connection of the Black experience and the history of Route 66 .
    Choctaw Freedman Citizenship Footprints, inc.Update organizations website; Help cover accounting services; Help cover mailing corts for organizations publications
    Historic Fort Reno, Inc.Repair Buffalo Soldier tombstones
    Greenwood Seneca FoundationHonoring Black Experiences Along Route 66: Bridging History and Community Engagement
    Country Q BBQExpand from BBQ Food Truck to Brick and mortar building along Route 66 in Tulsa, O
    Flagstaff Arts CouncilHelp fund art exhibit focused on western migration of skilled African American lumber workers in the timber industry in Northern Arizona.
    Dardee Deals LLCSoftware solutions for small businesses