Morgan State University

photo by: Paul Burk

HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative

  • Seeking HBCU Partners

    Through the Initiative, the National Trust seeks to partner with up to eight HBCUs to provide targeted assistance to increase their capacity for preserving and improving campus facilities.

  • Apply for Funding

    We invite HBCUs to apply for funding to support the development of new Cultural Heritage Stewardship plans for their historic campuses, buildings, and sites.

    Learn More

Through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, J.M. Kaplan Fund, and The Executive Leadership Council have invested $1 million to pilot an HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative.

In partnership with up to eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), this program will provide technical assistance and fund new Cultural Heritage Stewardship Plans. The partnership seeks to empower HBCUs with the resources to protect, preserve and leverage their historic campuses, buildings, and landscapes, ensuring these academic institutions and symbols of African American pride are preserved to inspire and educate future generations.

Note: The National Trust is now accepting applications for funding through the HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative. Learn more about the grant guidelines on Preservation Leadership Forum, and please contact hbcu@savingplaces.org with any questions.

The Legacy of HBCUs

From Tuskegee University to Spelman College, Shaw University to Florida A&M, our nation’s 105 HBCUs are living testaments to African American history and the ongoing achievements of generations of highly influential scholars, artists, attorneys, scientists, and activists.

The historic buildings and landscapes on HBCU campuses—many of which were built and designed by African American architects, planners, and students—hold a diverse and empowering collection of stories and artifacts that help tell the full American story and reflect the important legacy of the Black educational experience and communities that surround and support these institutions.

The exterior of Founders Library at Howard University

photo by: Jennifer Hughes

Founders Library at Howard University.

Stewardship Plans

Yet despite the pivotal role HBCUs play in the cultural landscape of our country, their preservation is often overlooked and vastly underfunded, leading to deferred maintenance, vacancy, and the threat of demolition. To counter these trends, the National Trust for Historic Preservation will fund up to six single-structure and two campus-wide preservation plans during the pilot program. In addition, the National Trust will:

  • Grow existing and establish new relationships with HBCU executive leadership, including Board of Trustees, Presidents, and Directors of Campus Facilities.
  • Provide direct grants to HBCUs to hire qualified consultants to prepare the stewardship plan.
  • Provide targeted preservation expertise and support to HBCUs and establish replicable stewardship models.
  • Promote HBCU history and culture and increase visibility of HBCUs as African American historic sites.
  • Convene HBCU program participants to discuss the implementation of the completed stewardship plans and the opportunities and challenges potentially impacting HBCU cultural heritage stewardship.
  • Encourage HBCUs to engage design and preservation students, African American architects, and professionals to support a more diverse and equitable field of practice.

Since listing HBCUs as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 1998, the National Trust has advocated and worked to strengthen the stewardship capacity of HBCUs, while also raising national awareness of their significance and the ongoing threats of demolition, deferred maintenance, and insufficient funding. The National Trust and its partners aim to grow the leadership and preservation capacity of HBCUs that steward some of the most diverse and exceptional collective of historic assets in the world.

HOPE Crew Preservation Practicum participants learn to restore windows at Tuskegee University

HOPE Crew window restoration workshop at Tuskegee University.

Advisory Committee

This HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative is an opportunity to directly assist HBCUs with developing solutions to preserve their historic buildings and campuses. To inform and advise the National Trust, an esteemed community of national leaders in campus planning, architecture, preservation practice, and landscape design have joined the HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative Advisory Committee, including:

  • Arthur J. Clement, Preservation Architect
  • Nakita Reed, Associate, Quinn Evans
  • Jack Pyburn, Principal, Lorde Aeck Sargent
  • Robert Z. Melnick, Director, Cultural Landscape Group, Professor Emeritus, University of Oregon
  • Kim McCalla, Morgan State University, Head of Facilities
  • Derrek Niec-Williams, Howard University, Executive Director, Campus Planning, Architecture & Development
  • Brian E. Hogg, Senior Historic Preservation Planner, University of Virginia
  • Michael Marshall, Principal, Michael Marshall Design, Washington D.C.
  • Adam D. Thies, Associate Vice President, Capital Planning, Indiana University
  • Thaisa Way, FASLA, FAAR, Professor, University of Washington

Join the movement to save and sustain historic African American places. The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund will help every American see themselves, their history, and their potential in our collective story and national cultural landscape.

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