Preservation Magazine, Fall 2021

President’s Note: The Power of Preservation Grants

As this issue of Preservation came together, I was gratified to see it filled with the impacts of our grantmaking—one of the ways in which the National Trust partners with people and organizations who steward and support historic places around the United States. I’m deeply proud to say that the National Trust is one of the country’s largest sources of grant funding for preservation projects. Grants are a critically important tool for supporting different forms of preservation and advancing our vision for a preservation movement that is more equitable, inclusive, and relevant.

Scattered through this issue are a number of examples. A modest pre-development grant of $5,000 to Artspace in 2015 helped with initial planning for the Pullman Artspace Lofts in Chicago (page 6). Much larger capital grants totaling $400,000 support restoration work at the Vernon A.M.E. Church in Tulsa (page 29), through our African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and the National Fund for Sacred Places (a cooperative program of the National Trust and Partners for Sacred Places). On page 13, executive editor Meghan Drueding notes the most recent grant awards from the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. Through this fund, the National Trust has invested more than $7.3 million to help preserve more than 105 historic landscapes and buildings connected to Black history.

On page 56, we are announcing a powerful new grant program. With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities as a part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, our “Telling the Full History” initiative will provide at least $2.5 million in grants to designate, preserve, and interpret historic places with meaningful connections to the stories of women, immigrants, Native Americans, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, African Americans, Latin Americans, and LGBTQ individuals—places and stories that far too often have been missing from our shared historical narrative.

In all of our grantmaking, we endeavor to support projects that are deeply meaningful to communities and respond to the most pressing issues we face. Earlier this year, we partnered with American Express to create the Backing Historic Small Restaurants Grant Program in the midst of the pandemic. These places are cultural touchstones that embody physical spaces but also represent the spirit and traditions of their communities. This summer, we’ve also made an initial round of Climate Action Grants at our own National Trust Historic Sites, helping them model sustainable stewardship in the context of a changing climate in ways that range from supporting biodiversity to utilizing historic architectural features for climate control to harnessing new technologies to reduce carbon footprints.

I hope you share my pride in the National Trust’s grantmaking and my admiration for the people whose preservation efforts we are honored to support. I also hope you will consider how our grants could advance preservation needs in your own communities, or how you might help us grow this essential part of the National Trust.

Editor's Note: This story was updated on November 9, 2021.

Paul Edmondson is the president & CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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Applications for the Telling the Full History Preservation Fund grant program are due December 15, 2021.

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