• National Trust Awards $1.6 Million in Grants to Organizations Dedicated to Preserving Black History

    July 5, 2019

    On July 5, 2019, at the 25th annual Essence Festival in New Orleans, the National Trust announced more than $1.6 million in grants to 22 sites and organizations through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. Now in its second year, the Action Fund has granted a total of $2.7 million since its launch in November of 2017.

    In his announcement from Center Stage at this year’s Essence Festival, Brent Leggs, executive director of the Action Fund, underscored the importance of this work, noting, “The recipients of this funding shine a light on once lived stories and Black culture, some familiar and some yet untold, that weave together the complex story of American history in the United States.”

    The Action Fund is a $25 million multi-year national initiative aimed at uplifting the largely overlooked contributions of African Americans by protecting and restoring African American historic sites and uncovering hidden stories of African Americans connected to historic sites across the nation. This year’s awardees include the home of Negro League Baseball phenom Satchel Paige; the Emmett Till Memorial Commission; ‘The Forum’ in Chicago’s Bronzeville; and more.

    This year’s funds, provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, were awarded to key places and organizations that help the Action Fund achieve its mission of protecting, restoring, and interpreting African American historic sites and uncovering hidden narratives of African Americans and their contribution to the American story. Grants were given across four categories: capacity building, project planning, capital, and programming and interpretation.

    “Beyond saving important African American heritage sites, the Action Fund is helping Americans understand more deeply who we are as a nation,” remarked Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander. “We applaud the ongoing work of the Action Fund in calling greater attention to the diversity of American history and lifting up narratives that have been too long neglected or forgotten.”

    External review for grant applications was provided by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

    Learn more about all 22 awardees.

  • African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Grant Spurs Restoration of Original Windows in Chicago Art Center

    June 12, 2019

    On June 12, 2019, the South Side Community Art Center kicked off the restoration of the building's original windows through a grant provided by the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund in July 2018. The 1892 Classical Revival home in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood was converted into an art center in 1940, one of nearly 100 art centers in the country established by the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project in the 1940s.

    Since then, the Art Center has served as a cultural and artistic hub in Chicago, fostering emerging African American artists and showcasing established talent while connecting South Side residents to art through exhibits, classes, lectures, and other community programming.

    The Art Center's window restoration grant was part of more than $1 million provided by the Action Fund last year to support the preservation of sites and stories of black history. The next round of Action Fund grants will be announced on July 5 at Essence Fest in New Orleans.

    Watch the video below to learn more about South Side Community Art Center and the window rehabilitation grant, and stay tuned for an additional project at the Art Center through the National Trust's HOPE Crew (Hands-On Preservation Experience) program on June 17-18, 2019.

  • Hands-On Preservation Project Completed in Atlanta's Herndon Home Museum, Thanks to Action Fund

    June 11, 2019

    On June 11, 2019, the National Trust's Hands-On Preservation Experience (HOPE Crew) program completed a project at The Alonzo Herndon Home Museum in Atlanta, the historic home of Atlanta’s first black millionaire and founder of Atlanta Life Insurance Company.

    Under the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF), HOPE Crew performed work on the property, part of its partnership with the Fund II Foundation to engage African American youth in learning preservation trades at sites tied to African American achievement and activism.

    “The historic Herndon Home, owned by one of the most prominent black families in Atlanta’s history, provides a lens to explore and engage with the city’s role as a center for black business, education, and culture,” said Brent Leggs, executive director of the Action Fund.

    The crew members were provided by Greening Youth Foundation, a black-owned nonprofit youth corps based in Atlanta. Over a period of several days, the all-African American team carefully repaired, scraped, and re-painted the back porch and elements of the home's front facade under the supervision of a local master craftsman.

    “Rising from slavery to become one of the wealthiest African Americans in the South by 1927, Alonzo Herndon exemplifies the best of what our community can achieve and contribute,” says Linda Wilson, executive director, Fund II Foundation.“Herndon built a business empire, a part of which still exists today, 114 years later. His empire not only enriched his life, but the lives of those in the community he served through good business practices and civic responsibility.”

    Through this and several more projects occurring throughout summer 2019 (including the Pittsburgh home of author August Wilson, the home of John and Alice Coltrane in Long Island, Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and six-week intensive internships for architecture students enrolled at two HBCUs), the Action Fund and HOPE Crew will work to proactively engage diverse youth in preserving places tied to African American activism and achievement nationwide.

  • New Gift to African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Will Support Hands-On Preservation Training Efforts

    May 2, 2019

    Five HOPE Crew corpsmembers paint the exterior of Nina Simone's childhood home white.

    Participants paint the exterior of Nina Simone's childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina.

    On May 2, 2019, the National Trust announced a leadership gift from the Fund II Foundation through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund to scale up the HOPE Crew (Hands-On Preservation Experience) program on its five-year anniversary to train more African American young people in the preservation building trades while preserving historic sites tied to African American achievement and activism. Fund II Foundation's support represents the largest investment in HOPE Crew's history.

    The first HOPE Crew project undertaken with Fund II support will be Nina Simone's childhood home, a National Trust National Treasure being restored through the Action Fund in Tryon North Carolina. The seven HOPE Crew participants for the upcoming project, provided by the Schenck Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center of North Carolina, will be at the home for several days, repairing and repainting its exterior. The project is an important first step in preparing the home for extensive rehabilitation and reuse.

    Fund II's support of HOPE Crew in the upcoming year is tied to two of the foundation's key pillars: preserving African American cultural heritage and introducing young people to occupations in STEM-related fields. According to Linda Wilson, executive director of the Fund II Foundation, "The projects celebrate iconic figures, instill community pride, and also provide the opportunity to educate around them and their achievements for generations to come."

    Other HOPE Crew activities planned with Fund II support include preservation projects at the Pittsburgh home of author August Wilson, the John and Alice Coltrane Home and Chicago's South Side Community Art Center (both National Treasures of the National Trust), and six-week intensive internships for architecture students enrolled at Historically Black Colleges and Universities Morgan State University and Tuskegee University.

  • Cultural Preservation Leadership Summit Shapes Agenda for a Fuller Telling of the American Story

    April 8, 2019

    A community of America’s thought leaders and cultural influencers convened in New York City on March 28-29, 2019, to articulate an innovative agenda for preserving African American history and stories as an engine of social justice through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. In partnership with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, and The JPB Foundation, the summit capitalized on the national spotlight and momentum around the Action Fund to create a nation where all Americans see their stories, history, and potential in the African American historic places that surround us.

    Action Fund Advisory Council co-chairs Darren Walker and Phylicia Rashad kicked off an evening of music and conversation at the historic Apollo Theater, with jazz legend Wynton Marsalis and Action Fund Advisory Council co-chair Elizabeth Alexander, president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. What followed was a day of dynamic and inspirational dialogue with a think tank of leaders from every sector—the arts, business, policymaking, academia, preservation, and more. We explored a forward-looking future and the role of cultural entrepreneurs, arts activists, preservation philanthropists, students, filmmakers, playwrights, and other new voices in shaping and defining our emerging social movement called the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

    From our panelists and moderators like Richelieu Dennis, Linda Wilson, Adam Pendleton, Daniel Beatty, and Yoruba Richen, to the next generation of cultural preservation professionals, to the Action Fund Advisory Council members Sherrilyn Ifill, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Evelyn Higginbotham, Irvin Henderson, Rep. Terri Sewell, and Dana Bourland, these and other speakers made this landmark event a success. They continue to inspire and motivate new forms of partnership, interpretation, and community.

    The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is the largest nonprofit campaign ever undertaken to elevate and celebrate African American history in the places where it happened nationwide. The Action Fund is investing $25 million to save the places where African American artists, activists, and achievers of every generation made their mark and moved us all closer to America’s founding ideals. An esteemed National Advisory Council of America’s most respected and penetrating thinkers and leaders guides and directs this effort.

    Learn more about the Action Fund.

    Support us now.

1 - 5 of 12 updates

Your votes will help unlock $2 million in preservation funding for women's history on historic Main Streets across America.

Vote Now