Press Release | Chicago, Illinois | November 15, 2017

National Preservation and Philanthropic Groups Partner for $25 Million Funding Initiative to Transform Our Nation’s Cultural Landscape

New African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Will Help to Preserve Overlooked Historic Places

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, in partnership with the Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations, today announced the launch of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF). The multi-year national initiative is aimed at uplifting the largely overlooked contributions of African Americans by establishing a grant fund for the protection and restoration of African-American historical sites. From the protection of Shockoe Bottom in Richmond to Fort Huachuca Black Officer’s Club in Arizona, the fund will help to support direct action needed to protect threatened sites of historic significance, address critical funding gaps for the preservation of African American historic sites, and help uncover hidden stories of African Americans connected to historic sites across the nation.

“There is an opportunity and an obligation for us to step forward boldly and ensure the preservation of places which tell the often-overlooked stories of African Americans and their many contributions to our nation,” said Stephanie Meeks, President and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We believe that this fund will be transformative for our country, and we are committed to crafting a narrative that expands our view of history and, ultimately, begins to reconstruct our national identity, while inspiring a new generation of activists to advocate for our diverse historic places.”

Leaders in academia, business, government, arts, and philanthropy have answered the call to form an Advisory Council for the Action Fund. Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation will serve as its chair. Celebrated actress, singer, and activist Phylicia Rashad will serve as both an advisor and ambassador to this effort and expressed her support in a video. Ms. Rashad and her family have worked for nearly two decades to preserve the historic Brainerd Institute in South Carolina.

“Without a thorough reckoning with the complex and difficult history of our country, especially when it comes to race, we will not be able to overcome intolerance, injustice, and inequality,” said Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation. “We have an opportunity with this Fund to broaden the American narrative to reflect our remarkably rich and diverse history."

The Action Fund has also drawn the support of a number of leading funders as partners—including four of the largest foundations in the country─ interested in furthering a vision of America where all its citizens’ diverse stories are reflected in the places that surround us. Joining the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and The JPB Foundation in supporting this multi-year initiative with a $25 million funding goal are the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

“As the scholar Carl Becker once wrote, history is what the present chooses to remember about the past,” said Patrick Gaspard, vice president of the Open Society Foundations. “The events in Charlottesville this past summer are a stark reminder of how one segment of American society chooses to celebrate a brutal past. We have an opportunity, through this tremendous project, to preserve, protect and cherish another history too often neglected—the vital story of African-Americans and their enormous contributions to the idea of America.”

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, chartered by Congress nearly 70 years ago, has decades of experience leading the preservation of African American historic sites and widening the tent for underrepresented communities in the professional field of preservation. In the past five years alone, the National Trust leveraged more than $10 million to preserve dozens of important African-American sites. In addition to the Action Fund providing grants to uncover African American stories at historic sites, the National Trust will empower youth through its Hands-On Preservation Experience (HOPE Crew) program, research preservation’s impact on contemporary urban problems that disproportionately affect communities of color, and advocate for preservation funding for underrepresented communities.

To see the complete list of Advisors and to learn more about the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the new African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, please visit:

To further support this important effort, please help to spread the word on Twitter and Facebook with these sample messages:

  • Twitter (@SavingPlaces) – Join the movement to elevate the overlooked stories and places that represent the African-American experience #TellTheFullHistory
  • Facebook (@NationalTrustforHistoricPreservation) – The National Trust for Historic Preservation is working to shine a light on the important contributions of African-Americans by protecting and restoring important African American historical sites and monuments. Join the movement by visiting #TellTheFullHistory

About the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund

The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is a multi-year initiative led by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in partnership with the Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, the Open Society Foundations and other partners, working to make an important and lasting contribution to our cultural landscape by elevating the stories and places of African American achievement and activism.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. | @savingplaces

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