Welcome Dreamers

Supporting Downtown Dreamers

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. To make it easier, in 2013 the Downtown Sacramento Foundation launched the Calling All Dreamers competition to support an entrepreneur to bring their dream of opening a downtown storefront to reality. Winners of the annual competition have quickly become signature retailers downtown, inspiring new classes of dreamers to pursue their big idea year after year.

Yet, the economic impact of closure and reduced operations during the COVID-19 health crisis in 2020 has made this one of the most difficult for these businesses. Recognizing the need for support, the Downtown Sacramento Foundation, with support from long-time program sponsors Kaiser Permanente and SMUD, will immediately make available grants to support ongoing operations for past competition winners, including The Allspicery, Oblivion Comics & Coffee, NEO Escape Room – opening soon at the Old Sacramento Waterfront – and Nash & Proper, who plan to open their Nashville-style fried chicken storefront on K Street in late July.

“We are proud to support the Downtown Sacramento Foundation and their efforts to sustain a thriving downtown community during this pandemic. At Kaiser Permanente, we believe that economic health is vital to the overall health of our communities.”

–Sandy Sharon, Senior Vice President and Area Manager, Kaiser Permanente Sacramento 

Grants can be used for the following:

  • Capital costs associated with meeting COVID-19 safety requirements;
  • Restocking costs to add inventory, purchase ingredients and/or support reopening;
  • Continuing to meet business operational costs including debt service, utilities and rent; and,
    Marketing and communications activities.

“SMUD is proud to be a founding sponsor of the Downtown Sacramento Foundation’s Calling All Dreamers competition and thrilled to support prior winners during COVID-19.”

  —Frankie McDermott, Chief Energy Delivery Officer at SMUD 

Supporting Downtown Dreamers grants are funded by the Downtown Sacramento Foundation with support from Kaiser Permanente and SMUD and the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. The Downtown Sacramento Foundation plans to revive the retail competition in 2021 to continue to support entrepreneurs with big ideas for downtown storefronts.

We Are Downtown. Together. Everyone can safely support downtown businesses.

Businesses are taking extra safety precautions to keep employees and customers healthy and safe and they need your support! Whether it’s ordering curbside pick-up, enjoying an ‘al fresco’ patio, grabbing takeout, placing an order for delivery, shopping online, or simply sharing a little love, you can continue to support the many unique businesses that make the fabric of downtown Sacramento. When heading out to support, remember to Keep COVID In Check: maintain physical distance and cover your mouth and nose to keep yourself, servers, and everyone safe.

You can also support businesses in #DowntownSac by making a donation to the Downtown Sacramento Foundation at GoDowntownSac.com/donate. 100% of tax-deductible donations are invested in locally owned, downtown businesses to keep the heart of our region vibrant, growing, and ready to rebound



Congratulations to our 2019 Calling All Dreamers winner, Nash & Proper!

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Nash & Proper Win 2019 Calling All Dreamers Competition

Sacramento-born chef and co-owner Cecil L. Rhodes II is evolving the popular Nash & Proper food trucks into Sacramento’s first brick and mortar restaurant focused on hot chicken, a fiery fried variety inspired by Nashville’s famous flavor. Putting his own spin on the iconic dish, expect a similar cult following for Sacramento hot chicken. Check out their social media: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Produced by the Downtown Sacramento Foundation, Calling All Dreamers is a retail business plan competition that encourages entrepreneurs to compete for the chance to open a downtown storefront and earn a coveted business start-up package valued at nearly $100,000 to turn their dream into reality.

The first year is the most difficult for small businesses. Many startups struggle with capital, overhead expenses, permitting processes and the details of actually managing a business. This competition is a game-changer. It provides the winner with the essential resources and tools needed to successfully open a business in downtown Sacramento, including: 

  • Up to $10,000 in matching funds
  • A business service prize package that includes financial planning, store design, marketing, graphic design, legal services, accounting, permit process assistance, and more.

Winner, 2019: Nash & Proper

Cecil Rhodes II & Jake Bombard, Owners   In 2019, Cecil Rhodes II & Jake Bombard were selected as the grand prize winners of the Calling All Dreamers business competition. We caught up with the first-time entrepreneurs …

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