Conserving Black Modernism

Conserving Black Modernism Grant Program

The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF), which is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has launched the new 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.

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Learn more about this initiative on SavingPlaces.org.

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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 are stewards of 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 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 other grant option is a mix of project planning and limited capital improvements which can be allocated as $90,000 for planning activities, $45,000 for capital expenses, and $15,000 for indirect expenses. 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.

The initial Letter of Intent (LOI) must be submitted by Monday, December 19, 2022, at 11:59 PM local time, through the online grants portal. If the LOI is accepted, a full application will be requested from the applicant. The 2023 grant cycle will be the inaugural round of the two-year Conserving Black Modernism grant initiative. All applicants who submitted an LOI will be notified of their status via email in early March.

Criteria

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.
  • Modern architecture that demonstrates an approach to Modernism and that 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 level of local support for the project, demonstrated through letters of support and information collected on the full application such as site visitation information, volunteer statistics, and other related metrics.
  • The potential of the project to be a catalyst for further positive action 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 additional cash investments or donated materials and services, including what other funds might be leveraged by an existing award.
  • 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.

Historic Asset Example Archetypes

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

  • Buildings located on the Campuses of HBCUs
  • Churches and Sacred Places
  • 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

      Eligible Activities and Expenses

      Grants from the AACHAF’s Conserving Black Modernism program are designed to advance ongoing preservation activities for 20th-century sites of Modernism that are designed by Black architects. Grant awards will support eligible planning activities OR planning activities with a limited capital improvement component. 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 other grant option is a mix of project planning and limited capital which can be allocated as $90,000 for planning activities, $45,000 for capital expenses, and $15,000 for indirect. 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.

      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 Analysis
      • 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

      Planning grants are available for research and planning projects for significant 20th-century buildings that involve practitioners from multiple disciplines and may include research of 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.

      Eligibility

      Grant-funded projects must focus on Modern architectural assets and buildings designed by Black Architects/Designers. 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.  

      Application Process

      There is a two-step process to be considered for funding:

      1.  Letter of Intent: Deadline: Monday, December 19, 2022 at 11:59 pm local time.

        A preliminary indication of interest and capacity. All Letters of Intent must be submitted through the National Trust’s online grant application system by the deadline, or they will not be reviewed. A link to the application system is included at the bottom of this page.

      2. Application: Deadline: March 31, 2023

        The Letter of Intent review period will take approximately twelve weeks. All applicants will be notified of their status at the end of this initial review period, in early March. If the applicant’s Letter of Intent is accepted, a full application will be requested. Instructions on how to complete the full application will be sent only to those organizations moving forward. Applicants will have approximately four weeks to complete and submit the full application once they receive a notice to proceed.

      National Trust staff members will engage with the prospective grantees during the full application stage, and they will offer their assigned applicant technical support and advice to ensure they are submitting competitive grant proposals. Each staff member will act as the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund liaison and will help applicants craft grant proposals. This collaborative engagement will benefit our selection process and grant-making. 

      Grant Conditions

      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 are leveraging additional investments are strongly preferred. The following grant conditions apply: 

      • Applicants that have received previous National Trust financial assistance are eligible provided that all grant requirements are current. The grant recipient must either own the property or have a written agreement with the property owner stating that the grantee has permission to undertake the grant-funded project. 
      • Grants or any matching funds cannot be used directly or indirectly to influence a member of Congress to favor or oppose any legislation or appropriation.
      • Any documents or plans for preservation work that result from the project must conform to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
      • Any construction projects must conform to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
      • Unless prior written approval of a bid waiver is obtained from the National Trust, at least three (3) competitive bids/quotes must be obtained for any procurement of services that exceed $50,000. This provision applies only to portions of the project supported by National Trust grant funds.
      • Consultants must be approved by the National Trust before grant funds are disbursed. Board members of the application organization cannot serve as consultants unless appropriate conflict-of-interest procedures are followed and documented.
      • Grant recipients must include appropriate acknowledgment of the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and its philanthropic partners' financial support in all printed materials generated for the project. As part of the grant agreement, language will be provided for the acknowledgment and a toolkit for promoting the grant will be provided to each grantee. 
      • Grant recipients are required to sign a contract agreeing to the conditions of the program.
      • Grant-funded planning projects must be completed within one year of the initial grant disbursement date. Capital project-related grants that implement the planning document recommendations must be completed within 18 months of the initial grant disbursement.
      • Upon the project’s completion, a final narrative report and financial accounting of the expenditure of the grants must be submitted. If the project is not completed in accordance with the contract, the grant funds must be returned.
      • Applicants must agree not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, or sexual orientation. This obligation also extends to disabled veterans, Vietnam-era veterans, and handicapped persons.
      • The National Trust’s philanthropic partners may require additional grant conditions. These conditions will be outlined in the grant contract.

      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 

      How to Apply

      A Letter of Intent (LOI) must be submitted using the National Trust’s online grant application system. The LOI form will capture basic information about your organization and your project. When completing the form, you may need the following items:

      • An IRS letter of determination (nonprofit applicants)
      • A list of major donors to your organization or project
      • Up to three photos of your site, if applicable

      Application

      Click here to access the Letter of Intent form. (Please note: You will be taken to the National Trust grants application system where you will need to create a user profile for your organization. This is a separate login from your National Trust login.) If you have questions regarding the use of the grants portal Foundant, please email grants@savingplaces.org. If you have questions about project eligibility, please email the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Department at actionfundgrants@savingplaces.org.