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Cultural Diversity Scholarships 

12-09-2015 17:35

Over the last six years, the National Trust Cultural Diversity Scholarship Program has attracted more than 600 ethnically diverse participants to the annual National Preservation Conference. The goal of the program, which is partially funded by the Getty Grant Program of the J. Paul Getty Trust, is to encourage the involvement of people and groups that traditionally have been underrepresented within the preservation movement, thus extending the reach of historic preservation. Cultural Diversity Scholarship recipients are charged with taking what they learn at the conference back to their communities and organizations, building upon it, and implementing programs to help preserve America`s heritage.

Cultural Diversity Scholarship recipients represent a wide range of backgrounds and interests: planners, architects, and historians, community activists, civic leaders, religious leaders, students, and affordable-housing advocates. The conference enables them to meet and interact with other preservationists from around the country.

Two scholarship recipients who attended the 50th National Preservation Conference in Chicago last October typify the individuals whom the National Trust assists in their quest to preserve communities. In Columbia, S.C., Katrina Wood is finishing her graduate degree at the University of South Carolina, in addition to working as the coordinator of the African American Heritage Trail in the newly created Office of Heritage Tourism at the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. She found the conference to be "extremely helpful in the area of heritage tourism," she said. "I have a better understanding of heritage tourism and learned from the shared experiences of my colleagues at the conference."

The conference, Wood said, also enabled her to "become a better facilitator of information to African Americans of the South Carolina Heritage Corridor." Indeed, she was so enthusiastic about the experience that she signed up for the National Trust Preservation Leadership Training Institute the following April.

Josie Talamantez was a first-time conference attendee from California. The preservation officer and manager of multicultural arts and traditional folk arts with the California Arts Council in Sacramento, Calif., Talamantez is also a founding member of the Chicano Park Steering Committee in San Diego. One of her goals in attending the conference was to meet others who could share resources that would assist her community in preserving Chicano Park and its murals.

Talamantez found that the conference did indeed benefit her work in California. "The most effective educational session was Preservation 101, led by [National Trust communications associate] Dwight Young," she recalls. "Dwight Young did an excellent job of explaining details about the preservation movement, including basic preservation information." She also was impressed, she says, "by the number of grassroots organizations present at the conference."

Since returning home, Talamantez has been inspired to spread the word about her California projects. At the 51st National Preservation Conference in Santa Fe next October, she will serve as the session manager for "Preserving Historic Communities and Impacting Landscapes through the Arts," an educational session that she suggested. The session will explore the preservation of diverse cultures and their interaction with the built environment. Additionally, Josie hopes the session will stimulate innovative ideas for using the arts to educate communities about preservation.

Today the Scholarship Program is a National Trust institution. Scholarship applications are accepted every spring at Trust headquarters. Recipients are chosen by National Trust regional offices. Scholarship amounts are determined on a case-by-case basis. They are intended to help cover transportation and living expenses associated with the conference, while the recipient always pays registration fees. Through the Cultural Diversity Scholarship Program, preservation leaders from underrepresented populations around the country gain knowledge and contacts at the National Preservation Conference and return home to use it to benefit their communities.

Publication Date: May/June 1997

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Author(s):Cydne S. Nash