GAMSA Application Process

The Great American Main Street Awards® (GAMSA) application has multiple components, including detailed questions on the history and successes of the Main Street program; up to ten (10) photos; 3-5 letters of support and other supporting documents.

Only entries that conform to the application directions will be considered. All materials submitted will become the property of the National Main Street Center, Inc. and will not be returned.

Eligibility Guidelines

The Great American Main Street Awards® competition is open to all Nationally Accredited Main Street Programs. At this time, previous winners are ineligible to apply for GAMSA. Learn more about accreditation.

All applications, accompanied with payment, submitted by midnight (CST) February 5, 2014 will be considered equally. 


Please submit payment of $150 to:

National Main Street Center
53 W. Jackson, Suite 350
Chicago, IL 60604
Note that your application will not be considered complete until payment is received.  You will receive an email confirmation within 2 business days of receiving payment confirming your application is complete.

Application Criteria

  • Overall strength of the Main Street in creating an exciting place to live, work, play and visit;
  • Demonstrated success of the Four-Point Approach in your community, with a focus on economic impacts;
  • Commitment to historic preservation;
  • Active involvement of Public and Private sector;
  • Model Partnerships–Participation of multiple groups, entities and individuals who have been involved in making Main Street a great place.

Selection Process

All applications submitted by the deadline are reviewed and scored by Main Street Coordinators and National Trust staff using the criteria below. A jury of representatives from community revitalization, economic development, and historic preservation fields will review top scored applications, using the same criteria and select the winners. You can expect an official notification via email in early March on the status of your application.

Tips and Recommendations

Tip #1: Prepare! Know the story you want to tell before you begin. What makes your community stand out from the other 600+ eligible communities? Don’t assume reviewers know your community (the opposite is more likely). Be sure answers are well edited and intended for an audience that is looking at your community for the first time.

Tip #2: Pictures matter! Make sure you are selecting photos that support the information and story you are relaying in the application. Put some good time and effort into selecting quality photos that truly reflect your unique story. Also use your captions wisely.

Tip #3: Take credit! The key words in GAMSA are "Main Street". Reviewers and jury need to see the connection between Main Street and the success of the revitalization efforts.

Tip #4: Don’t get discouraged. On average, GAMSA winners have applied at least 2 times and many have won on their 3rd or 4th application. There is tough competition for those winning slots each year and sometimes it takes a few times to be named a winner.

Important Notes

  • All materials submitted are the property of the National Main Street Center. Inc. and will not be returned.
  • Only applications submitted in the format indicated above will be accepted.
  • You will be able to save your responses online and return to edit them. However, we strongly recommend that you compose your responses beforehand and paste them into the online form. 

Recognition of Winners

Winners of the Great American Main Street Awards® competition will be officially honored in May at the National Main Streets Conference in Detroit. The awards ceremony will feature the winners' achievements, as well as the presentation of the award. The information on winners is kept confidential until the official announcement.

The National Main Street Center will also distribute press releases announcing the award winners to local and national media and winning communities will be featured in an issue of the National Main Street Center's quarterly journal, Main Street Now and on, as well as other media. Great American Main Street Awards® winning communities also receive a plaque and a certificate marking their achievement.