Conserving Black Modernism Grant Program: Guidelines & Eligibility

The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF), a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has launched the Conserving Black Modernism grant program through funding from and a partnership with the Getty Foundation’s Keeping it Modern initiative. The Conserving Black Modernism grant program is designed to empower and equip preservationists and stewards with funding and technical support to preserve the material heritage, innovation, and legacy of modern architectural sites designed by Black architects.

Integrated into the Action Fund’s existing National Grant Program, the Conserving Black Modernism grant program will support non-profits and municipalities to steward 16 historic assets of modern architecture through funding, technical assistance, public awareness, and education. The program will support eligible project planning activities and seeks to develop future-looking plans that model and strengthen stewardship, interpretation, and asset management. This program aims to increase recognition of Black architects and their artistic expressions as well as diversify the meaning of American modern architecture and design. The Action Fund invites proposals from a broad pool of applicants who steward these places for public benefit and access.

Grants made from Conserving Black Modernism will total $150,000 each. Funding will be flexible and can support planning activities, limited capital improvements, and indirect costs. Funding ratios will be balanced to support and prioritize comprehensive project planning needs. For example, a $150,000 project planning grant with 10% indirect can be allocated to advance a full-scale building evaluation and preservation plan. The grant period for this type of project will be 12 months.

Conserving Black Modernism grants can also support projects consisting of a mix of project planning and limited capital improvements. Funding ratios will be balanced to prioritize project planning. For example, an applicant may propose a project which allocates $90,000 for planning activities, $45,000 for capital expenses, and $15,000 for indirect expenses. The grant period for this type of project will be 18 months.

Grantees can address the building’s priority needs and experience the full cycle of planning, design, and construction. Additional grantee support will include technical assistance, promotion, and conservation management training.

Historic Asset Example Archetypes

While this is not an exhaustive list, we are particularly interested in the following 20th-century property archetypes:

  • Buildings Located on HBCU Campuses
  • Community and Cultural Centers
  • Schools
  • Libraries
  • Houses and Residences
  • Spaces Associated with Sports & Recreation
  • Green Book Sites
  • Sites associated with Women’s History
  • Sites associated with LGBTQ+ History


In partnership with the Getty Foundation’s Keeping it Modern initiative, the AACHAF staff and a team of external reviewers will select grant recipients by considering, among other points, the following criteria:

  • The historic significance of the property to be assisted and its association with African American cultural heritage, 20th-century Black architects, and modern design and engineering.
  • Architecture that demonstrates an approach to Modernism and expresses a connection to social, cultural, and contemporary architectural values.
  • The national implications of and the ability for the project to be a replicable model for the field of preservation practice.
  • The extent to which the requested assistance will make a difference in preserving, restoring, and interpreting the historic asset and the design contribution of the architect.
  • The potential for the project to serve as a model to benefit other historic properties, neighborhoods, or communities.
  • The adequacy of plans and resources for future maintenance of the property or the continuation of activity for which grant support is requested.
  • The ability and willingness of the applicant to carry out the proposed plans or activity within the project’s timeframe, if awarded.
  • The amount of additional resources being brought to the project, either through cash investments or donated materials and services.
  • The commitment of selected grantees to work with the National Trust and Getty staff on project scoping and consultation and to participate in grantee program convenings and trainings with other award recipients.

Eligible Activities and Expenses

Planning grants are available for research and planning projects for significant 20th-century buildings that involve practitioners from multiple disciplines and may include research on historical documentation; research on the historic fabric of the building; physical analysis and testing of original materials used in construction, such as their properties and performance under specific conditions; the development and testing of technical solutions; and preparation of technical drawings, budget estimates, and schedules of work. Planning projects may also include the creation of comprehensive management plans for developing cyclical maintenance and long-term care policies.

Up to 10% of awarded grant funds may be used for organizational overhead and administration costs.

Examples of eligible projects include obtaining the services of consultants to develop the following plans/services for implementation by the applicant organization:

  • Conservation Management Plans
  • Material Analyses
  • Archival research, as part of a broader planning document
  • Structural Engineering Reports
  • Feasibility Studies (real estate development/reuse planning)
  • Historic Structures Reports with Cost Estimates
  • Engineering and Environmental Studies
  • Preservation & Interpretation Plans


Grant-funded projects must focus on Modern architectural assets and buildings designed by Black Architects/Designers. Architects and designers are not required to have been formally licensed during their careers. All grant awards will total $150,000. Requests below this amount will not be reviewed. Only one grant will be awarded per organization in any grant round. Grant recipients from previous rounds of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund’s National Grant Program are eligible to apply. Historic assets must be at least 50 years old, but unique exceptions to this general rule will be considered.

Eligible applicants include:

  • Public agencies: State or local agencies including boards, commissions, departments, accredited public colleges or universities, offices, agencies, public bodies, or political subdivisions of the state or of a county or municipality. Examples include state historic preservation offices, city and county preservation offices and planning departments, state and local commissions focused on different aspects of heritage, and publicly owned historic sites, cultural centers, libraries, and museums.
  • 501(c)(3), and other (federally designated) nonprofit organizations: A broad range of 501(c)(3) organizations are eligible to apply, including state and local preservation organizations, churches, accredited private colleges or universities, historic sites, museums, historical societies, and genealogical associations.

Grants from the AACHAF’s Conserving Black Modernism program may be used to fund up to 100% of the proposed project. While matching funds are not required for this program, projects that leverage additional investments are strongly preferred.

Ineligible Activities and Expenses

  • Catering, entertainment, food, and beverage costs.
  • Costs associated with planning for or constructing new buildings or structures, including the creation of monuments and statues.
  • Costs associated with the creation or maintenance of archival collections (books, documents, ephemera, etc.)
  • Expenses incurred prior to the grant award date.
  • Proposals that are capital project (Brick-and-mortar) focused without a project planning emphasis.


There is no Letter of Intent (LOI) for the 2024 Conserving Black Modernism grant program. Applications must be submitted through the online grants portal by Thursday, February 1, 2024, at 11:59 PM local time. All applicants will be notified of their status via email by early summer of 2024.

  • Opening: December 14, 2023
  • Deadline: February 1, 2024 February 15, 2024

Access the application for the Conserving Black Modernism program.

You will be taken to the National Trust grants application system where you will need to create a user profile for your organization. If your organization has applied for a grant previously, you will sign into your existing organization profile.

Please direct questions to

Please add to your address book to ensure you receive email communications sent from our grants application system about your application.

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