Downtown Improvement Blog

Providence DID Anniversary Celebration

Providence DID Celebrates 10 Years!

Providence DID Celebrates Their 10 Year Anniversary!

Launched in February 2005, Providence Downtown Improvement District celebrated a decade of service to Downtown Providence with a fitting community celebration at the Providence Public Library.

Providence DID has always been about the community — working with the people in the city, business-owners, visitors and residents, to stimulate a better living experience for everyone. The DID partnered with Block by Block during it’s formation to equip the district with ambassadors actively working to bring people together and celebrate what makes Providence so special.

Our ambassadors worked with the Downtown Improvement District to identify their mission: To continuously enhance the quality of life in downtown Providence. This led to the creation of cleaning and safety programs to supplement existing city services. The Providence DID’s highly visible Clean & Safe Teams were formed, and their bright yellow and black uniforms have been a recognizable symbol of friendliness and service to the district ever since.

These ambassadors patrol the streets daily sweeping walkways, collecting litter, removing graffiti, pressure-washing sidewalks, shoveling snow, maintaining landscaping, and contributing to beautifying the district in any way possible.

Ten years later, the programs are still immensely successful. In 2014, Clean and Safe Teams in Downtown Providence:

  • Removed 6,667 graffiti stickers and 4,010 graffiti tags.
  • Collected and removed 648,460 lbs. of trash.
  • Made a combined 10,848 contacts with property and business owners.
  • Spent 1,506 hours watering flowers and 800 hours removing snow.
  • Rode 1,069 miles on bikes while patrolling the district.

Martha Sheridan, president and CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau, stated, “Whether coming to Providence for leisure or business travel, visitors want to arrive in a city that is clean, safe and friendly. The Downtown Improvement District team is a visible reminder for travelers that our city is just that. The DID’s work helps us to position Providence as the inviting, vibrant city that Travel + Leisure readers named number one in the United States.”

So on March 3, the DID proudly came together to celebrate their first decade of operation and all it accomplished, while looking forward to continued growth for the community. Frank LaTorre, DID director of public space, led the program which included PPL Executive Director Jack Martin, DID Chairman Richard Lappin, Mayor Jorge Elorza, Council President Luis Aponte, and Councilman Seth Yurdin.

According to Downtown Providence, LaTorre described the city core as “the downtown for all Providence neighborhoods,” repeating the mayor’s campaign slogan of “One Providence.” He highlighted a variety of DID initiatives–including advocacy for streetscape projects, the Hospitality Resource Partnership and marketing efforts.

Future projects for Providence DID include an increased focus on public art, stronger lighting, activated alleys and more bike/pedestrian-friendly projects.

Read more at Downtown Providence.

Read about recent projects of Providence DID and Block by Block ambassadors at The Providence Journal or GoLocal Prov.

Photo: Marianne Lee

Free Candy from Louisville Downtown Partnership Ambassadors

Louisville Downtown Partnership

Louisville Downtown Partnership Spreads the Spirit of Valentine’s

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, Ambassadors from the Louisville Downtown Partnership extend their hospitality by passing out candy over the weekend.

Ambassador David Warren said, “The Ambassadors try to do everything they can to make everyone’s downtown as nice as it can be. This is just a little something to let them know that we appreciate them coming downtown and we’d like for them to come back.”

The Louisville Downtown Partnership has been passing out Valentine’s Day candy for 11 years. This is one of the many ways the Ambassadors work hard to serve the Louisville public, and spread positive attitudes and friendliness among the district.

Watch the interview here.

Special Interview with Grand Rapids Ambassador

Grand Rapids Ambassador Interview

Meet Grand Rapids Ambassador, Veronica Aho

Wood TV’s eightWest does a special interview with Downtown Grand Rapid’s Kristopher Larson and Block by Block Grand Rapids ambassador, Veronica Aho, who was recently named Downtown Ambassador of the year.

Larson explains the Block by Block Grand Rapids Ambassador program as, “It’s a team of good samaritans we deploy in the downtown 6 days a week…Anywhere from 8 to 10 ambassadors there to really help people. I like to tell them they get the honor of being someone’s hero everyday…They’re there to help people. They’re there to find somebody who needs some type of assistance.”

On how to find the right type of person to become a Grand Rapids ambassador, Larson responded, “I need superheros and rockstars like Veronica here. It really requires a special breed of person.”

Watch the interview at

Photo courtesy of eightWest.

Hollywood Ambassadors work to provide safe and welcoming downtown environment

Hollywood Ambassadors

How Hollywood Ambassadors Help Keep the District Safe

The Sun Sentinel features an article about Hollywood Ambassadors’ Safety Program and their latest stride to maintain calm in spots that are known for both tourism and crime.

The article takes a close look at how exactly Block by Block Hollywood ambassadors thwart crime and keep the district safe, while maintaining their other responsibilities such as removing graffiti and litter and providing outreach to the downtown’s homeless population.

For example, the Sun Sentinel details how the Hollywood ambassadors, “work from 4 to 10 p.m. five days a week, and from 4 p.m. until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Clad in bright yellow shirts, they are unarmed, but keep in close contact with police and each other via two-way radio.

“Roaming on foot and bike, they report crime, alert officers to suspicious activity and keep an eye out for code violations. They also walk visitors to their cars, give directions and answer questions about the area, handing out brochures on shops, restaurants, special events and trolley schedules.”

Read more at the Sun Sentinel.

Photo courtesy of Michael Laughlin, Sun Sentinel.

University of Cincinnati safety ambassadors promote campus resources

uofc safety

University of Cincinnati Safety Ambassadors Raise Campus Safety Awareness

Our University of Cincinnati safety ambassadors have partnered with the University Police Department and Student Safety Board in a collaborative effort to ignite awareness among students to promote safety resources on campus.

The organizations have combined forces to create a “safety table” in residence halls Wednesday and Thursday. According to The News Record, University of Cincinnati’s independent newspaper, Dave Hoffman, UC crime prevention officer stated, “The purpose of the safety table is to educate students, faculty, staff and parents on UCPD’s activity and to ensure a safe environment on campus and within the surrounding community.”

The University of Cincinnati safety ambassadors are working with UC on a, ‘Be Smart. Be Safe’ initiative to encourage students to make smart and safe decisions on and around campus.

Read more at The News Record.

Photo courtesy of Coulter Loeb, The News Record Staff Photographer.

Block by Block Receive Cleveland Police Foundation Award

Cleveland Police Foundation Award 2014

The Cleveland Police Foundation awarded Block by Block with the Cleveland Police Foundation Award for their work serving alongside Downtown Cleveland Alliance since 2009. The award was presented at the 3rd Annual Cleveland Police Foundation Gala on November 15, 2014 at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel Grand Ballroom in Cleveland, OH.

Block by Block and Downtown Cleveland Alliance have worked together to cultivate a culture of ownership with one mission — “To do whatever it takes to positively shape the downtown Cleveland experience through safety and appearance.”

The Cleveland Police Foundation 2014-2015 Annual Program writes, “In 2013, Block by Block removed 509,056 pounds of trash, cleaned 5,950 graffiti sites, resolved 5,929 panhandler issues, safely escorted 3,419 people, and assisted people 50,421 times with directions, answering questions and being exemplary ambassadors for our city.”

“We’re extremely proud of all we’ve accomplished working alongside the Downtown Cleveland Alliance. We couldn’t be more honored to receive this award.” Blair McBride, President of Block by Block said. “It’s been incredible to watch the district grow and evolve, and we look forward to continuing our partnership.”

Block by Block’s district boundaries go north and south from Lakeside to Carnegie and east and west from East 18th to West 10th, covering roughly 105 city blocks. Block by Block employs 79 staff members in Cleveland, including 68 ambassadors, five full-time leaders, one outreach specialist, one training manager, one office administrator, two operations supervisors and two operations managers.

Learn more

Take a closer look at our partnership with Downtown Cleveland Alliance or find us at a neighbor near you.

South Side Ambassadors improve appearance and safety in Bethlehem, PA

South Side Ambassadors

The South Side Ambassadors Keep the District Safe, Clean and Friendly

On September 5, Lehigh University’s President Kevin Clayton and Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez announced in a press conference the launch of the new South Side ambassadors program in Bethlehem, PA.

Since then, the South Side ambassadors have proven their working knowledge of the area to help both residents and visitors and are acting as a “task force” focusing on safety, cleaning and hospitality services.

Hector Lopez, supervisor of the South Side Ambassadors, stated that the ambassadors are already helping by providing an extra level of presence in the neighborhood to report and incidents they witness.

Jordan Snelling, the business recruitment, retention and expansion manager for the City of Bethlehem echoes this sentiment with, “(The ambassadors) will be working with the city closely to report what happens and will be the eyes and ears on the street.”

Read more at The Brown and White.

Photo courtesy of M. Reilly, B&W Photo.

Take the Downtown Cleaning Checklist

Downtown Cleaning Checklist

This downtown cleaning checklist allows you to do a quick audit of your district’s cleanliness. Get refreshed with some helpful cleaning ideas and learn strategies for how best to accomplish them.

It’s always great when your district booms with so much activity. But, the little things that help make your district so attractive in the first place can get lost during busy seasons. It’s the perfect time to tackle some of these cleaning projects, and keep your district looking its best.

How many of these could you check off with confidence?


Remove graffiti


Clean and paint fixtures


Remove gum spots


Power wash surfaces


Remove litter


Plant and prune landscaping


Sweep curbs


Set up pet waste receptacles


Our complete Downtown Cleaning Checklist provides helpful tips and tricks for getting your city in top shape. We’ve compiled best practices based on examples across the nation, so you can check each of these off with confidence and 100% this list.

Download your cleaning checklist

Download your free Downtown Cleaning Checklist for cleaning ideas and strategies to tackle trouble spots, garnish a fresh, bold look and keep it that way.

downtown cleaning checklist