HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative

HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative

Through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Andrew J. Mellon Foundation, 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.

Grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Cultural Heritage Stewardship program provide funding to HBCUs to develop Cultural Heritage Stewardship Plans to ensure HBCUs are equipped to preserve and maintain their historic campuses and historic assets. Grant awards may be made for activities such as obtaining the services of qualified consultants with expertise in areas of preservation architecture, planning and reuse, landscape design, engineering, and environmental sustainability to complete campus preservation plans or individual-building plans.

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Learn more about this initiative on SavingPlaces.org.

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HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Grants: Guidelines & Eligibility

Funding will be provided in two categories:

  1. Campus-wide preservation plans for the institution’s buildings, landscape, and cultural assets (including, but not limited to, cemeteries, art and archival collections, and monuments). Grants for a campus-wide preservation plan will be $150,000.
  2. Preservation plans, such as a historic structures report, a conditions assessment, or rehabilitation plans, for individual buildings or sites on the campus. Grants for an individual building plan or site will be $60,000.

Letters of Intent for this program are due by 11:59 pm local time on Friday, November 5, 2021. All interested institutions will be invited to attend a webinar on the program and the application process which will take place on Friday, October 20, 2021 at 1PM Eastern. Final grants will be announced in February 2021. You can register for the webinar here.

Application Process

There is a two-step process to receive a grant from the HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Program:

1. Letter of Intent
LOI Period Opens: Tuesday October 5, 2021. 
Deadline: Friday, November 5, 2021 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. Applicants will be asked to indicate if they are interested in applying for a campus-wide preservation plan, an individual plan, or both. If they would like to submit for both, two Letters of Intent should be submitted, one for each category. Applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal in only one of these two categories. A link to the application system is included at the bottom of this page.

2. Application
Deadline: Friday, January 7, 2022 at 11:59 pm local time.
The Letter of Intent review period will take approximately four weeks. All applicants will be notified of their status at the end of this initial review period. 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. You will have approximately four weeks to complete and submit the full application once you receive a notice to proceed.

Eligible Applicants

Applicants must be a historically black college or university established prior to 1964 and accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary of Education to be a reliable authority as to
the quality of training offered. A list of currently accredited HBCUs can be found here.

The applicant must own any properties that will be included in the grant-funded planning project.

Applicants that have received previous National Trust financial assistance are eligible provided that all grant requirements are current. Only one grant will be awarded per institution in any grant round.

Eligible Activities and Expenses

Grants from the HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative are restricted to preservation-related planning activities in two categories: campus-wide planning and individual site planning that involves historic buildings, landscapes and cultural assets. For the purpose of this grant a Historic Building is defined as those constructed prior to 1980; Landscape is defined as open land including parks, campus yards, and cemeteries; Cultural Assets are defined as art collections, monuments, and museums as they are connected to the campus culture and housed in historic buildings.

Grant funding is available for obtaining the services of qualified consultants with expertise in preservation architecture, planning and reuse, landscape design, engineering and environmental sustainability.

Planning for Campus-Wide Planning

  • Hiring of qualified preservation consultants to develop a campus-wide preservation plan which:
    • Analyzes priority buildings significant to the institution for preservation planning
    • Evaluates the full collection of historic buildings, landscapes and cultural assets on the campus
    • Identifies significant spaces and features on campus and feasibility of use for modern function
    • Addresses the condition of historic buildings and landscapes in a comprehensive manner and provides guidance to institutional leadership
    • Informs the Campus Physical Master Plan process by providing historic and cultural resource information and integration of assets into the campus environment

 Planning for an Individual Building(s) or Site(s) can include:

  • Hiring a preservation architect to produce a historic structure report or to a develop a rehabilitation plan for single sites and landscapes
  • Hiring a consultant to produce a conditions assessment report for individual buildings
  • Hiring a landscape architect to develop a landscape plan
  • Individual building plans can include multiple buildings and landscapes if they are contiguously connected and/or share historical and design significance

 Eligible Expenses

  • Fees for consultant services relevant to the grant-funded project, including fees for subcontractors with specific expertise
  • A maximum of 10% of the grant award can be used for organizational overhead or administrative costs (administrative costs are capped at $15,000 for campus-wide plans and $6,000 for individual building/site plans)

 Ineligible Activities and Expenses

  • Organizational overhead costs in excess of 10% of the grant award, as detailed above
  • Catering, food and beverage, entertainment
  • Academic research
  • Construction or other capital improvement costs
  • Acquisition of real property or objects
  • Expenses incurred prior to award date


Grant recipients will be selected by considering, among other points, the following criteria:

  • The historic significance of the campus or individual property and its association to African American cultural heritage.
  • The extent to which the requested assistance will make a difference in preserving, restoring or interpreting the historic property or site, including what other funds might be leveraged by an existing award.
  • The competitiveness of the application geographically and thematically.
  • The potential of the project to be a catalyst for further positive action and investment.
  • The adequacy of plans and resources for future maintenance of historic and cultural resources.
  • The ability and commitment of the applicant to carry out the proposed plans or activity within the project’s timeframe if awarded (HBCUs with existing stewardship capacity are desired partners).
  • The amount of additional resources being brought to the project either through faculty and student participation, additional cash investments, and/or donated materials and services.
  • The level of institutional leadership support for the project, demonstrated through letters of support and information collected on the full application.
  • The potential to engage HBCU students with the project and consultants to support a more diverse and equitable field of practice

 Grant Conditions

HBCU Cultural Stewardship Grants 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:

  • Grant recipients are required to sign a contract agreeing to the conditions of the program.
  • Grants will be paid in three installments. Fifty percent (50%) of the awarded grant will be paid upon receipt by the National Trust for Historic Preservation of a fully signed and executed grant agreement. An additional twenty-five percent (25%) will be paid upon receipt and approval of an interim report on the project. The remaining twenty-five percent (25%) will be paid upon the funded project’s completion, as defined in the grant contract’s scope of work.
  • Grantees will be required to meet reporting requirements as described below.
  • Grants or 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.
  • 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 HBCU grant funds.
  • Consultants, if being used, must be approved by the National Trust before grant funds are disbursed. Board members of the applicant organization cannot serve as consultants unless appropriate conflict of interest procedures are followed and documented.
  • Grant projects must either begin within six months of award date or a formal extension must be requested. Failure to begin the project or request an extension in this time frame may result in the cancellation of the grant and you will need to reapply for funding.
  • Grant recipients must include appropriate acknowledgement of National Trust financial support in all printed materials generated for the project.
  • Within one year from the grant award date, a final report and financial accounting of the expenditure of the grant must be submitted. A final report form will be provided. 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 actual or perceived race, color, national origin, creed, age, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, mental and physical disabilities, sex (including pregnancy), personal appearance, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, genetic information, matriculation, political affiliation or veteran status.

 Grant Reporting Requirements

Beyond funding preservation plans, this project is interested in learning what challenges HBCUs face in their preservation work. The National Trust would like to identify common issues and solutions to share best practices with the broader audience. To help with this, grantees will submit progress report, including an interim report, through our grants management system. The reports shall describe the status of the project, any challenges the grantee is facing, and expenditures made from Grant funds.

Within three months from the completion date, a final report will be submitted through our online grants system.  The National Trust will verify completion and upon satisfaction of compliance with the terms of the grant agreement will issue payment for the balance of the Grant.

 How to Apply

You will need the following items as part of your application:

  • A campus map that can be uploaded and attached to the application form.
  • Up to four current digital images of high quality (300 dpi) with caption and credit information.
  • A list of the applicant's current board of trustees.
  • Applicant's Internal Revenue Service determination letter of tax-exempt status. If tax-exempt status has not been fully approved by the IRS, please provide evidence of filing for certification and letter of opinion from an attorney concerning the applicant's tax status.
  • A list of project team members to include stakeholders from across the school such as representatives from the president’s office, facilities office, trustees, faculty, and students.
  • Letters of support from the board of trustees and from the school’s president are required at the LOI stage. Additional letters of support from the community may be included with a full application.
  • A list of matching resources (cash or in-kind) that will be brought to the project.

National Trust grants staff can provide helpful guidance for the application process if you have questions. If you have specific questions about your project's eligibility, please contact our grants staff.


Fill out an application for HBCU Grant here. (Please note: you will be taken to our grants application system where you will need to create a user profile for your organization. This is a separate login than your National Trust login.) If you have questions, please email us.