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.