Appendix A: National Main Street Accreditation Criteria


Main Street America communities use the Main Street Approach™ to guide local revitalization efforts. To measure their progress, they participate in a regular accreditation process that requires them to meet a series of rigorous standards. Achieving Accredited status is a mark of distinction and a powerful advocacy tool that highlights a program’s work and achievements.

Several years ago, Main Street America embarked on an intensive evaluation and assessment of the Accreditation framework to inform how we might improve the standards and streamline the evaluation process. In 2022, Main Street America debuted the new Standards, training materials, and resources to help communities prepare for full integration in 2024.

Broad-Based Community Commitment to Revitalization

This Standard confirms that at its core, the Main Street Approach is community-driven, and that successful and sustainable revitalization is only possible with active commitment from all sectors of a community. This Standard highlights the importance of forging public and private sector partnerships that demonstrate a shared responsibility on the district's revitalization efforts; the crucial need to foster a strong sense of ownership about the district that leads to active engagement in its revitalization program; and the value in connecting with stakeholders and communicating on the progress the district makes and the opportunities for community engagement.

Inclusive Leadership and Organizational Capacity

Strong, thriving communities don’t just happen. They need effective leaders at all levels, from a broad base of committed volunteers to dedicated professional staff offering their time, talents, and passion for this work. This Standard place a strong value on PEOPLE as Main Street’s greatest resource and should reflect our network’s core value that Main Streets are for everyone. The Standard places an important priority on ensuring that Main Street organizational structure offers an inclusive environment for community engagement and effective leadership development.

Diversified Funding and Sustainable Program Operations

A successful revitalization program must have the financial resources necessary to carry out its work and prepare for the future. Through this Standard, communities will demonstrate their financial investment of the district and its revitalization program through a diversified mix of public and private sector funding sources and appropriate financial management systems and operational best practices along with fund-development initiatives aligned with action plans that ensure a solid foundation for success.

Strategy-Driven Programming

This Standard promotes the value of Main Street as a comprehensive framework for addressing all aspects of revitalization through a strategy-driven balanced level of activities centered around the proven Four-Points. While the first few years are usually focused on achieving small wins that build momentum. As vitality grows, this Standard promotes the importance of elevating the Main Street program’s focus from project to strategy-driven to ensure that the work of the program is comprehensive and led with strategic direction (Transformation Strategies). Through this Standard, Main Street programs can incorporate all the integrate a focus on community-informed and market-based decision making that leads to aligned planning and implementation across all Four Points to continually move revitalization forward to the next level of success.

Preservation-Based Economic Development

Main Street is founded on the premise that true economic development can only be successful if the community places value on its local and existing assets. Through this Standard, communities can demonstrate their attention to achieving economic development while leveraging their unique historic and cultural assets. This Standard confirms our firm belief that a community’s historic architecture and cultural assets reflect the richness and strength of its identity, which sets a community apart and offers an economic market advantage.

Demonstrated Impact and Results

Main Street communities are part of a national movement with a proven track record for generating impressive economic returns and strengthening the district’s positioning in the community and its marketplace. This Standard highlights the importance of tracking, packaging, and demonstrating the qualitative and quantitative impact of the program’s efforts and the district’s incremental revitalization. It also provides the opportunity for the local Main Street program to tell their stories to continually build a strong sense of ownership and pride in the district and the community.


Was this content helpful?