Preserve Route 66 Legacy Business Grant Fund FAQs

What is the deadline to submit an application?

The deadline for nominations is January 12, 2024 at 11:59 PM ET.

How does the National Trust define a “Route 66 Legacy Business?”

Route 66 Legacy Businesses are independently owned enterprises located in communities or neighborhoods that Route 66 passes through between Chicago and Los Angeles. Legacy Businesses exemplify and contribute to community heritage and culture and often provide unique services, products, or crafts. Route 66 Legacy Businesses should meet at least 3 of the following 5 criteria. If you aren’t sure if your business qualifies as a legacy business, contact .

  1. An independently owned business or organization operated under the same ownership or name for at least 10 years.
  2. Operated in the same location for at least 10 years.
  3. Located in a culturally significant structure, as reflected by distinctive architecture, signage, and materials.
  4. Provides a locally or regionally distinctive service, product, or craft.
  5. Serves the community and/or Route 66 travelers and strengthens area culture and heritage with a connection to Route 66

My business isn’t right on Route 66. Am I still eligible to apply?

Yes, businesses that are located in a community on Route 66 that are not located directly on Route 66 may still be eligible to apply, if they can demonstrate a connection to Route 66. For example, Green Book properties that served African American Route 66 travelers were often located off the route, but would be eligible. There may also be other be other businesses in Route 66 communities that are beloved local places or that are important to the residents of Route 66 communities such as theaters, shops, or other locally owned businesses that contribute to the unique history and identity of their Route 66 community.

What kind of projects can this Route 66 legacy business grant program fund?

Examples of the work this grant can fund are as follows:

  • A Route 66 business invests in fixing up their façade or restoring their neon or vintage sign to working order.
  • A Route 66 business seeks funding for an energy audit to help them look at preservation sensitive ways to reduce their energy consumption and operating expenses.
  • A restaurant in a community along Route 66 creates versions of their menu in other languages, sharing information about menu options and the story of their restaurant with non-English speaking customers.
  • A businessperson seeks assistance to prepare a feasibility study to explore the viability of different business options to restore and revitalize a Route 66 building or resource that is currently underutilized (for example, used for storage).

I am starting a new Route 66 business. Would I be eligible for this grant program?

Generally, no, however if you are proposing a new business or expansion that would be in a vacant or underutilized historic Route 66 building, and if your proposal helps to ensure that that historic resource is rehabilitated, revitalized and put back into use, you would be eligible to apply. This program is also intended to incentivize the preservation and revitalization of original Route 66 resources.

What are the selection criteria for evaluating Route 66 legacy businesses?

The grant selection criteria for eligible Route 66 businesses are as follows:

  • Is a small/independently owned business located in a historic or older building or neighborhood in a community on Route 66.
  • Contributes to the history and/or identify of its surrounding Route 66 community or neighborhood.
  • Tells an inclusive story about heritage and community in America to demonstrate that Route 66 is a true microcosm of America.
  • Has a compelling and inspiring historical narrative or cultural significance with a connection to Route 66.
  • Has been disproportionately impacted by economic challenges, disaster, or other hardships.
  • Will help to revitalize a vacant or underutilized commercial property in the Route 66 corridor that would otherwise be at risk of being lost.

What is the program timeline?

  • January 12: Application Period Closes at 11:59 PM ET
  • Late March: Notification to Selected Businesses
  • One year after notification: Project Completion

Who should be filling out this application?

This application is designed to be completed by the business owner. Only the person who submits the application will receive updates and information pertaining to this program and the application. If this is an issue, please contact


Are there specific eligible uses of funds?

The Preserve Route 66 Legacy Business Grant Fund will be available for the following three categories of projects: (1) capital improvements, (2) planning, and (3) marketing and outreach. Eligible project types and expenses are listed below. Grant funds can be used to launch new initiatives or to provide additional support to on-going efforts.

Capital Projects:

  • Restoration, rehabilitation, stabilization, and preservation of historic assets and buildings that help to tell a fuller story of Route 66.
  • Bricks-and-mortar preservation, including but not limited to projects such as repointing, carpentry, window restoration, sign restoration, awnings, painting or cleaning of exterior facades, the creation of outdoor seating areas, ADA accessibility upgrades, and material testing to support the preservation of older buildings.
  • Mechanical projects, including but not limited to replacing or installing new electrical and HVAC systems to improve energy efficiency.
  • Restoration, rehabilitation, stabilization, and preservation of archaeological sites or cultural landscapes that help to tell a fuller story of Route 66.
  • Purchase of equipment or furnishings.
  • Innovations to improve sustainability of a building or attraction, such as reducing energy consumption or food waste.

Planning Projects:

  • Producing a historic structure report, preservation master plan, feasibility studies, environmental studies, energy audits, business plans, marketing plans, etc. for a historic business or historic building connected to the communities whose places and stories have been underrepresented in the historic preservation of Route 66.
  • Obtaining the services of consultants with expertise in the areas such as preservation architecture and planning, business development, engineering and environmental studies, legal issues, fundraising and financial sustainability, organizational development, etc. to develop plans to further preservation efforts around the communities whose places and stories have been historically underrepresented in the historic preservation of Route 66.

Marketing and Outreach Projects:

  • Language translation of menus, websites, or other materials to be more inclusive and accessible to diverse local customers and audiences.
  • Collaborating with artists, creatives, and subject matter experts to design and implement innovative exhibits and interpretative programs to elevate or illuminate the stories of communities along the Route 66 corridor that have been historically underrepresented.
  • Designing, producing, and marketing printed materials or other media communications to draw attention to the stories of people along the broad Route 66 corridor, especially People of Color (including but not limited to indigenous peoples, Latinx, Black Americans, Asian Americans, and others), women, immigrants, LGBTQ+ communities, and veterans.
  • Web site development to aid preservation efforts, improve business operations, and support storytelling for the communities that have historically been underrepresented in the preservation of Route 66.
  • Materials and services such as printing, photographs, telephone, and supplies.

If I am leasing space, is my business still eligible?

Yes, business owners who are building tenants are eligible to apply. If the applicant does not own the building, they will be required to upload an owner letter of consent in the application.

What businesses are eligible?

Eligible entities are those:

  • That are small/independently owned legacy businesses or businesses in historic or old buildings.
  • That contribute to the history and/or identity of its surrounding Route 66 community or neighborhood.
  • That have a compelling and inspiring historical narrative or cultural significance to share.
  • That have a physical location (meaning “brick-and-mortar” location).
  • That are a registered business entity in good standing in the state in which it was formed and the state in which it does business (e.g., not an unincorporated contractor or self-employed individual).
  • That are not part of a national franchise. Digital-only businesses are not eligible (digital includes, without limitation, online and application-based businesses). Applicant must be an owner of the eligible small business and 18 years of age or older.
  • Additionally, an existing or new business seeking assistance to open a business in an existing vacant or underutilized Route 66 building (for example, to complete a preservation or business plan).

My building is not a designated historic landmark. Am I still eligible?

Yes, buildings do not need to be formally designated or listed on a historic register to apply for this grant. If you are unsure if your building is considered historic, please email us at

I understand that business owners from diverse groups (People of Color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ+ and veterans) will be given priority. I identify as one of more of the above community groups, but I own the business with my partner who does not. Would our business be considered to have underrepresented ownership?

Yes, your business would still receive preference in this grant program.

My business is not owned or owned in part by owners who identify as part of one or more of the above community groups. Are there any other factors for prioritizing applications?

Yes. The National Trust will also prioritize applications from Route 66 businesses that demonstrate that they are located in an economically distressed area, or businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID pandemic, natural disasters or other significant challenges. Additionally, if your Route 66 business was historically owned by one of the underrepresented groups above, and your grant project helps to make that historic hidden legacy visible, your application would also meet the “preferred” criteria.

My business is in a residence or a coworking space. Is my business eligible?

No. Your business must operate in a “brick-and-mortar” location in the United States or on tribal lands. Home-based businesses and businesses located within a coworking or similar shared commercial space, even those in historic neighborhoods, are not eligible.

Are nonprofits eligible?

No, nonprofits are not eligible.

Are franchises eligible?

No, franchises are not eligible.

Are sole proprietors eligible for the grant?

Yes, sole proprietors or business owners with no employees are eligible to apply, but they must be a registered business entity in good standing with their appropriate agency.

Grant Program Details

What is the awarded grant amount?

Grantees will generally receive anywhere from $5,000-$10,000. The selected businesses will enter into a grant agreement with the National Trust outlining the terms and conditions of the grant.

How will the funds be disbursed?

Grantees will receive all the funds up front via direct deposit after signing a grant agreement and other required documents.

How will selected businesses demonstrate completion towards the project?

Businesses will be required to submit a final report one year after the funding is dispersed. In this report, businesses will need to upload photographs of completed projects and financial documents showing how the funds were spent.

Is there any technical assistance available to help me complete the project at my business if selected?

Formal technical assistance will not be provided for every grantee, but if you have questions about your project, please feel free to reach out with specific questions.

What is the expected completion date of projects?

Selected businesses must complete their project one year after receiving the funds. Any changes to the project completion date must be approved in advance by the National Trust.

Do grant funds need to be repaid?

No, grant funds do not need to be repaid. However, all taxes associated with the acceptance and/or uses of cash awarded are the sole responsibility of the individual grantee.

Is a match required?

No, there is no match required for this grant.

Grant Application Details

Which documents do I need to upload in my application?

In the application, you will be asked to upload the following documents: 1. Photos of your business 2. A certificate of good standing OR an active business license (You only need to provide one of these documents – not both. Applicants may choose between submitting an active business license or an up-to-date certificate of good standing. Only one of these documents is required, and you may choose which of these two types of documents you wish to upload in your application)

What is a Certificate of Good Standing?

A certificate of good standing is a document from the state. In many states it's from the Secretary of State’s office or a similar agency. Some states refer to them as “certificates of existence,” “status certificates,” or “certificates of status.” This document demonstrates that your business is licensed and are in good standing with the state in which your business was formed and is doing business. Check with your state’s Secretary of State website or the office to request a certificate of good standing/existence.

Can I save a draft of my application?

Yes, at the bottom right of the application, there is a save button. Please be sure to save frequently.

How will I know if my application has been submitted?

When you log into the grants portal, you can see the status of your application on the applicant dashboard. You will also receive an email from the grants portal ( confirming your application submission. These emails often go to the spam folder, so be sure to add the email to your contacts list.

Can I change my application once it has been submitted?

No, you cannot make any changes to your application once it has been submitted.

When will I be notified about the status of our application?

We will notify all applicants about the status of their submission in Spring 2024, via the email provided in your application. Be sure to check your email regularly, including your junk folders. Email updates to all applicants will come from Foundant at Grant recipients will receive next steps from Failure to reply promptly to next steps may result in disqualification from the grant program.

Have a question?

Read through the Preserve Route 66 Legacy Business Grant Fund Guidelines as well as the FAQs on this page before reaching out to

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