African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund - FAQ

What is the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund?

The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is a multi-year initiative led by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to make an important and lasting contribution to our cultural landscape by elevating the stories and places of African-American activism and achievement.

Through the creation of the African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the National Trust aspires to double its own programmatic efforts over a period of several years, and establish a new grant fund for the protection and restoration of places of significant African-American history.

By drawing attention to the remarkable—and still largely unrecognized—collection of places and stories in our midst evoking centuries of African-American activism and achievement, the Trust will fill an important gap in our country’s cultural heritage landscape, inspire a new generation, and further our vision of a stronger, more united America where all our stories are reflected in the places that surround us.

Who is partnering with the National Trust on this effort?

The National Trust is pleased that a number of major funders have stepped forward to provide resources for the Action Fund including the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundations and The JPB Foundation who are leadership partners. Additional funders include the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Leaders in academia, business, government, arts, and philanthropy have answered the call to form an Advisory Council. Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation will serve as the chair. See the full list of advisors.

What will the funds raised for this initiative be used for?

The Action Fund will support preservation advocacy at historic sites across the country and provide grants needed to protect places significant to the African-American story. It will empower youth through the Trust’s Hands-On Preservation Experience (HOPE Crew) program, uncover hidden stories of African-Americans at historic sites across the nation, and promote cities that work for everyone.

Why has the National Trust decided to embark on this fund right now?

The national conversation about the ways our collective past is represented in our culture and public spaces, presents a unique and compelling opportunity for us all to boldly step forward to preserve culturally significant places and tell the often-overlooked stories of African-Americans and their contributions to our nation.

We believe now is the time to come together to expand the national narrative and make an important and lasting contribution to the cultural landscape of our great nation.

In what other ways has the National Trust been involved in advocating for underrepresented communities?

For decades, the Trust has advocated for stronger federal programs and funding, assisted in on-the-ground preservation and advocacy efforts, and supported private grant funding to preserve and honor America’s underrepresented stories. Today, more than 40 percent of its portfolio of National Treasure advocacy projects represent sites of women and under-represented communities.

In recent years, the organization’s work has resulted in increased federal funding and/or national monument designations for iconic places such as the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in Alabama, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland, and the Pullman National Monument in Chicago.

The Trust also has advocated for funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the African American Civil Rights Grant Program, and competitive grants for National Register listings for underrepresented communities. Funding for these programs grew from $500,000 in FY 2015 to $17.5 million in FY 2017.

How can the public get involved in this fund?

There are many ways the public can join the National Trust and its partners in this effort.

  • Important places need not be nationally significant—tell us about the places that matter to you and your community. Share the story of a place that has impacted your life; send us your tweets and videos using #TellTheFullStory.
  • Look for places in your community where overlooked stories can be told and enlist the help of your local preservation organization.
  • Join our efforts through a financial donation.

Support the Action Fund

Join us in protecting and restoring places where significant African American history happened.

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