‘DREAMERS’ Receive Grants to Pivot During COVID-19

(August 3, 2020) — The Downtown Sacramento Foundation today announced it will issue grants to support the ongoing operations of the small businesses winners of its Calling All Dreamers retail competition.

Made possible with funding from long-time competition supporters, Kaiser Permanente and SMUD with the support of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, the new “Supporting our Dreamers” grants will support past winners of the annual competition with the capital needed to implement new COVID-19 safety requirements; add inventory and/or purchase ingredients to support reopening; meet business operational costs including debt service, utilities and rent; and, marketing activities.

“We are proud to support the Downtown Sacramento Foundation and their efforts to sustain a thriving downtown community during this pandemic,” said Sandy Sharon, Senior Vice President and Area Manager, Kaiser Permanente Sacramento. “At Kaiser Permanente, we believe that economic health is vital to the overall health of our communities.”Photo of Gabriel and Acme

The first year is usually the most difficult for small businesses with many startups struggling with capital, overhead expenses, permitting processes, and the details of actually managing a business. Factor in the economic impact of closures and reduced operations to protect public health during COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has made this one of the most difficult for winners nearing opening their doors, NEO Escape Rooms and Nash & Proper, as well as seasoned businesses winners, Oblivion Comics & Coffee and The Allspicery.

“This financial assistance is going to help us afford new protective equipment to keep our employees and customers safe and market our new business,” said Cecil Rhodes II, co-owner of Nash & Proper opening on K Street later this summer. “This grant give us confidence knowing that we have so much support already.”

In 2013, the Downtown Sacramento Foundation launched the Calling All Dreamers business competition to support an entrepreneur to bring their dream of opening a downtown storefront to reality. Providing startup capital and a prize package with resources ranging from legal and interior design services to advertising and marketing support, the competition has helped not just its seven winners open, but also supported nearly two dozen businesses across the city to bring their dreams of business ownership to life.

“We are incredibly grateful for the Downtown Sacramento Foundation and their partners for their continued guidance, and support as we navigate the launch of our startup during these uncertain times,” said Gabriel Berzamina, owner of Neo Escape Rooms, the unique storefront preparing to open at the Old Sacramento Waterfront (when guidance allows). “This grant brings us one (big) step closer to our grand opening. We are so blessed to be a part of the Calling All Dreamers family!”

The Downtown Sacramento Foundation plans to revive its small business retail competition in 2021 to continue to support entrepreneurs with big ideas for downtown storefronts. Learn more at CallingAllDreamers.org. 

Downtown Businesses Need You to Safely Support!

“Downtown businesses keep the heart of our region vibrant, growing, and ready to rebound,” said Michael Ault, executive director of Downtown Sacramento Partnership. They need customers, now more than ever.

Downtown businesses are taking extra precautions to keep employees and customers healthy and safe. From ordering curbside pick-up, enjoying expanded ‘al fresco’ patios, grabbing takeout, requesting delivery, shopping online, or simply sharing a little love, customers can continue to support the many unique businesses that inspire entrepreneurial dreams year after year. Learn more about how downtown businesses are “Keeping COVID In Check” so that customers can safely support them at GoDowntownSac.com/safe.


Contact:    Emilie Cameron (916) 287-9960

About Downtown Sacramento Foundation

Established in 2011, Downtown Sacramento Foundation (DSF) is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 that supports programs that complement Downtown Sacramento Partnership priorities to improve the economic, physical, cultural and social environment in order to foster civic pride.