New Partnership will Provide Youth Preservation Training at Sites of African American History
Grant from Fund II Foundation will engage African American youth in the preservation trade at Nina Simone’s North Carolina birthplace and at African American historic sites nationwide
Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that with support from Fund II Foundation, it will broaden the scope of its national preservation training program to focus on engaging African American youth in learning preservation trades at sites tied to African American achievement and activism. This support, provided as a part of the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, will begin at the childhood home of legendary musician and Civil Rights activist, Nina Simone in Tryon, N.C. where the National Trust has been leading a campaign to rehab and repurpose the home since naming it a National Treasure in 2018.
“This Fund II support—the largest investment in HOPE Crew’s 5-year history--represents an important evolution in the National Trust’s commitment to telling stories that reflect the African American experience in this country,” said Brent Leggs, executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
HOPE (Hands-on-Preservation-Experience) Crew was created by the National Trust in 2014 to provide young people preservation trades training in window restoration, masonry repair, and other skills at historic sites--primarily those located in national parks. The grant from Fund II Foundation enables HOPE Crew to expand beyond national parks to proactively engage diverse youth in preserving places tied to African American activism and achievement nationwide.
“We can’t think of a better way to celebrate HOPE Crew’s 5th anniversary than to commit new resources to engaging African American youth in the preservation of sites that tell our nation’s full history, beginning with the home of this iconoclastic singer and Civil Rights activist,” said Monica Rhodes, director, HOPE Crew, National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The seven HOPE Crew participants—all African American and from the Carolinas—are currently enrolled in a pre-apprenticeship program with the Schenck Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center of North Carolina. They will be at the Nina Simone home for several days, repairing and re-painting the exterior of the 660-square foot home which has been vacant for years and in disrepair. Their work is an important first step in preventing further disrepair and preparing the home for extensive rehabilitation and reuse.
“Our commitment to HOPE Crew supports two key pillars of the Foundation: to preserve the rich, cultural heritage of African Americans whose contributions have left an indelible mark on the world, and to introduce young people to occupations in STEM related fields,” said Linda Wilson, executive director, Fund II Foundation. “The projects celebrate iconic figures, instill community pride, and also provide the opportunity to educate about them and their achievements for generations to come.”
“When three fellow artists and I purchased the Nina Simone home in 2017, we did so with the desire that the site be transformed into something more than a relic,” said artist Adam Pendleton. “We want it to become a space for cultivating a kind of present-tense thinking about history and cultural heritage that's oriented towards the future. This partnership with the HOPE Crew is making that a reality.”
With support from the World Monuments Fund and other foundations, the National Trust has hired an architect to guide stabilization of the home and will convene a visioning session in May with partners, local stakeholders, artists, and musicians to begin identifying future use options. The public is encouraged to weigh in with their vision for the home at SavingPlaces.org/NinaSimone.
Paint for the project was generously provided by Benjamin Moore. A supporter of the National Trust, Benjamin Moore has donated thousands of gallons of paint over the last few years to help preserve many historic sites throughout the United States.
“Benjamin Moore is committed to the communities we serve, supporting preservation and workforce development programs across the country,” said Keri Fleming, chief human resources officer, Benjamin Moore & Co. “Our donation of sustainable coatings to the revitalization of the childhood home of Nina Simone brings two of our core community outreach initiatives together and offers us the opportunity to help young people learn the painting trade and importance of restoring a historic treasure.”
Other HOPE Crew activities planned with Fund II support include preservation projects at the Pittsburgh home of author August Wilson and the home of John and Alice Coltrane in Long Island and six-week intensive internships for architecture students enrolled at two HBCUs—part of Fund II Foundation’s commitment to diversifying STEM fields of education.
About the National Trust for Historic Preservation
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to save America’s historic places. National Treasures, the National Trust’s signature program, are a revolving portfolio of cherished and nationally significant historic places for which the organization deploys the full range of its preservation, advocacy, and public engagement resources to secure long-term sustainability. Since the start of the program in 2014, HOPE Crew has completed more than 165 projects, trained over 750 young people (including veterans) in preservation trades, performed more than $18 million of preservation work and recruited thousands of volunteers to protect places that are significant to their communities. For more information, visit: savingplaces.org/treasures | @savingplaces
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 Andrew W. Mellon 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. savingplaces.org/actionfund
About the Fund II Foundation
Founded by businessman and philanthropist Robert F. Smith, Fund II Foundation makes grants to 501 (c)3 public charities in five areas: 1) preserving the cultural richness of the African-American experience; 2) safeguarding human dignity by giving voice to the voiceless and promoting human rights; 3) conserving the environment, promoting the benefits of the great outdoors to people of all ages and backgrounds; 4) affording music education to nourish both talent and the soul; and 5) sustaining the American values of entrepreneurship, empowerment, and innovation. For more information, visit: fund2foundation.org | @Fund2F