Preserving Black Churches: Frequently Asked Questions

Letters of Intent were due September 2, 2022.

Have questions? Check out these resources:

Who is eligible to apply for a Preserving Black Churches grant, an initiative of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund?

Eligible applicants for a Preserving Black Churches grant include historic Black churches with active and non-active congregations; 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations stewarding a historic Black church with or without an active congregation; and public agencies.

What types of projects are eligible for funding from Preserving Black Churches?

Eligible applicants can apply in the following funding categories: Capital Projects, Project Planning, Programming and Interpretation, Organizational Capacity Building and Operations, and Endowment and Financial Sustainability. Eligibility under each funding category depends on the applicant and type of project. For details on funding categories, view the Preserving Black Churches grant guidelines.

What is a historic Black church?

For the purposes of Preserving Black Churches, a historic Black church is defined as one or more of the following:

  • A historic religious building built and erected by a Black congregation, continuously occupied by active Black congregations;
  • A historic religious building designed and/or constructed by Black architects/builders, occupied by an active Black congregation, or repurposed for public programming;
  • A historic religious building not originally built by or for a Black congregation, but continuously occupied by an active Black congregation for at least 50 years;
  • Active historic Black congregations that are a part of historic religious denominations including, but not limited to, African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AMEZ), the Baptist Church, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME), Church of God in Christ (COGIC), Episcopal Church, Lutheran Church, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, Catholic Church, non-denominational.

What is an active congregation?

For the purposes of Preserving Black Churches, active congregations are those which hold regular worship services and/or conduct public programming from a historic Black church building (defined above).

Does my historic Black church need to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places or designated as a local landmark to apply for a Preserving Black Churches grant?

No. It is not required for properties to be formally listed or designated as historic to apply. But a special emphasis will be placed on sites that have had a prominent physical and/or historical place in their community. If you are interested in learning whether your historic church is listed or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, contact your State Historic Preservation Office.

Is Preserving Black Churches open to applicants of all faith traditions?

Applications from non-Christian faiths will be considered on a case-by-case basis. For more information on how to submit an application to Preserving Black Churches, contact

Is a match required for Preserving Black Churches grants?

Yes and no. Matching funds are not required for the following funding categories: Capital Projects, Project Planning, Programming and Interpretation, and Organizational Capacity Building and Operations. (While matching funds are not required, projects that are leveraging additional investments are strongly preferred.) Matching funds are required for the Endowment and Financial Sustainability funding category.

Are only historic Black church buildings eligible to apply for funding?

Yes. Historic Black church buildings are eligible to receive grants in all funding categories. Historic cemeteries owned by a historic Black church are only eligible under Project Planning. Funding for capital projects for historic cemeteries is available through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF) National Grant Program.

Can we apply for Preserving Black Churches and the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund National Grant Program?

Yes. Grant recipients of the AACHAF National Grant Program are eligible to apply for a grant from Preserving Black Churches. However, the existing AACHAF grantee must submit the Letter of Intent (LOI) under a different funding category than previously awarded. For example, an AACHAF grant recipient of Capital Projects funding is not eligible to apply to Preserving Black Churches for a Capital Projects grant, and should apply through a new funding category such as Project Planning, etc.

Can we apply for Preserving Black Churches and the National Fund for Sacred Places?

Yes. Eligible applicants can apply to National Fund for Sacred Places and Preserving Black Churches. However, funding received from other National Trust programs, including the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund's Preserving Black Churches and the National Grant Program, cannot be used to match grants from National Fund for Sacred Places.

Can grant funds be used for staffing and technology needs?

Preserving Black Churches provides funding to support organizational capacity building and operations. The grants are intended to support creation of new staff positions that directly support the preservation and stewardship of historic Black church buildings. Funding cannot be used to support clergy or religious staff. Grant funds can be used to support technological needs associated with non-religious programming and historic interpretation.

Can grant funds be used for worship-related building elements?

No. Individual sanctuary elements intended solely to enhance the worship space or worship experience (i.e., replacement of altars, pipe organ restoration or replacement, repair and replacement of pulpit furniture, etc.) are not eligible to receive funding. Repair and restoration of historic sanctuary features might be eligible if a part of a larger capital project and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

How do we apply for a Preserving Black Churches grant?

There is a two-step process to receive a grant from Preserving Black Churches. Eligible applicants must submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) to be considered for funding. The Letter of Intent (LOI) is an online application for applicants to demonstrate eligibility and show a preliminary indication of interest and capacity. All Letters of Intent (LOI) must be submitted through the National Trust’s online grant application system, by the deadline, or they will not be reviewed. If the applicant’s Letter of Intent (LOI) is accepted, a full application will be requested.

Can we submit applications for multiple projects?

Eligible applicants can submit one Letter of Intent under each funding category. However, if selected, only one LOI will be invited to submit a full application.

Can multiple people work on the LOI/application?

Yes and no. Only one email address can be linked to an application, but you can use the collaborate feature from the LOI to invite others to review, edit, and/or submit the application. You can learn more about that process here.

Can I see a copy of the LOI questions? How do I submit an LOI?

You may only submit an LOI through our online grants system. Emails, phone calls, or physical letters will NOT be reviewed. A copy of the LOI questions may be viewed here. Note that between the “Project” and “Historic Resource Information” questions, each project category has a section of specific questions. For example, if you are filling out a Capital Project LOI, you will see the questions under that section, but not the questions for any of the other categories when you are filling out the LOI within the grants system.

What is my historic resource? If I am not doing physical work on a site do I still need to answer this?

Your historic resource is your church building/site. In the “Historic Resource Information” section we’re requesting information on the physical location of your site so that we can put them on a map. If your project involves a historic building or site, please list the name and address of it.

Do I need to upload a budget, church financial paperwork, or project planning documents with the LOI?

No. For the LOI we are only asking you to upload a few photos. We will need more documentation, including a project budget for the full application, but for now we do not need any additional uploads.

Will applicants or recipients be required to have a UEI or active SAM/CAGE registration?

No. The National Trust is a non-profit organization, not a Federal Agency, and this is a privately funded grant program.

Can you provide examples of successful LOIs or project?

No, this is a new program and this is our first grant cycle. However, many of the project categories are similar to those in our African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund grants, and you can learn about grantees (which include churches and non-religious organizations) here.

Can I ask for reimbursement for work that has already taken place?

No. Work that has been completed prior to the grant award date in November 2022 is not eligible for funding.

Are elevator/ADA projects eligible? Are electrical projects eligible? Are stained glass window repair projects eligible?

These would all be projects eligible under the Capital Projects category.

Can I use grant funds to repair our historic pipe organ?

Only if this work is part of a larger project, such as repairs made to a sanctuary due to water infiltration that also impacted the organ. Work solely focused on elements created to enhance the worship space or worship experience will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If you have a situation like this, please email to explain the situation before submitting an LOI.

I can’t find my church’s Letter of Determination from the IRS. Can I still apply?

Yes, you can still apply. If you have a EIN please list that, if you don’t we may follow up later in the process to confirm your tax status.

When I tried to set up an account in the grants system it said the EIN I put in was already in the system? What do I do?

Some church denominations share one tax ID (EIN) between several churches, so that may be why this message has shown up. You can click past that message and set up a new account.

We believe all Americans deserve to see their history in the places that surround us. As a nation, we have work to do to fill in the gaps of our cultural heritage.

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