Program aims to increase foot traffic in Oakland’s commercial corridors, support Oakland’s small businesses, and showcase Oakland’s arts and culture community.

OAKLAND, CA – Today, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and the City of Oakland’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development (EWDD), in partnership with the nonprofit Visit Oakland, announced the launch of Activate Oakland to increase foot traffic in Oakland’s commercial corridors, support Oakland’s small businesses, and showcase Oakland’s arts and culture community. 

The Activate Oakland sponsorship program will provide funding and marketing assistance to incubate small events and activations in Oakland’s commercial districts. 

“I am so proud to announce this new program today to support our small businesses and bring Oaklanders back into our commercial corridors to gather, enjoy Oakland arts and culture, and celebrate our world-class restaurants, shops, and gorgeous public spaces,” Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said. “Community safety is one of my administration’s top priorities, and this program will boost foot traffic and help our City create safe, welcoming, inclusive, and thriving communities. Together, we can support our small businesses and a safer city.”

“We are honored to have been asked to be the administrator for the Activate Oakland grant sponsorship program” said Peter Gamez, President and CEO of Visit Oakland.  “As the Destination Marketing Organization for Oakland, we are focused on promoting The Town and committed to supporting and elevating our community.  Safety and security go hand in hand with this success.”

"We are thrilled to roll out these grants for up to $10,000 to support events and activities that bring us together in celebration of Oakland’s unique culture, "said Sofia Navarro, Interim Director of the Economic and Workforce Development Department. "Oaklanders are incredibly creative folks, and we are excited to hear ideas from artists, business owners, and merchant associations on how to engage patrons and audiences through events and activations that create a draw for neighbors and visitors alike."

Activate Oakland applications will be accepted from Thursday, September 14 through October 12, 2023 at 5:00PM PST.

Eligible projects include free exercise/dance classes, fashion shows, paint parties, movie nights, kids’ story time, games, or activities, outdoor karaoke, pickleball lessons and tournaments, block parties, music, art, spoken word performances, yoga, cooking classes, art-making activities, district walking tours, poetry readings, pop-up retail shops, and more.

Visit Oakland has hired a Grant Administrator to oversee the process of distributing the 400K in funds.  Working closely with Oakland’s EWDD, a diverse team of panelists will be selected that will include representatives from EWDD and the Department of Race and Equity, as well as community panelists including artists, businesses, event organizers, and community stakeholders invested in Oakland’s commercial corridors.

The review panel will evaluate all applications based on four program goals:

  • The event serves under-invested Oakland commercial districts and supports event participants and applications from priority Oakland neighborhoods, especially new events (30%)
  • The event benefits Oakland-based small businesses, artists, cultural groups, and especially commercial districts in priority neighborhoods (25%)
  • The event builds social cohesion and contributes to the Oakland community’s shared positive experience. (25%)
  • The applicant shows readiness, capacity, and ability to implement the event successfully. (20%)

Details for eligible applicants are:
  • Any business, resident, community group, or nonprofit organization may apply.
  • Sponsored events must be free to the public and take place in an Oakland Commercial Corridor.
  • Applications for small and new events are encouraged.
  • The Activate Oakland program will fund $1,000 - $10,000 per event. The program may not be able to award the full amount requested on the application.
  • Applications for event series are encouraged and may request up to $20,000 for the entire series.
  • Applicants may submit multiple applications, one for each unique event proposal
  • Events must occur between October 24, 2023 and August 31, 2024.
  • All funded events must apply for, and receive, any required permits prior to the event.

To submit an application, review requirements, apply to be an application reviewer and learn more about Activate Oakland go to

About Visit Oakland

Visit Oakland is a non-profit organization marketing Oakland, California as a travel destination. Visit Oakland offers a wide variety of complimentary services and materials for travelers interested in visiting Oakland. For more information, check out Want to share the Oakland love with the world? Follow @visitoakland on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.  #visitoakland #oaklandloveit


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