African American Heritage Preservation Program Grants

The African American Heritage Preservation Grant Program is administered as a joint partnership of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture (MCAAHC) and the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT).

The Program provides support for the acquisition, construction, and capital improvement buildings, sites, or communities of historical and cultural importance to the African American experience in Maryland.   This competitive program, offered once per year, is supported through an annual appropriation from the Maryland General Assembly.  The amount available for award is not known until the General Assembly adopts the State budget in early April.

To ensure that your proposal will be competitive, MHT strongly encourages applicants to discuss your project parameters and budgets with MCAAHC and MHT staff before developing a proposal.  Applicants should closely read the application, guidelines, and instructions to understand all submission requirements. 

For assistance in the development of project scope and purpose, contact Dr. Joni Jones, MCAAHC Director, at (410) 216-6190. 

For assistance with capital project and technical preservation issues, contact Anne Raines, MHT Capital Grants Administrator, at (410) 514-7634.

Click here to read the 2013 Annual Report for the African-American Heritage Preservation Grant Program.

If you are a current grantee looking for information about reporting requirements, payment requests, contract questions, or other issues related to grant administration, please click here.

Applications for FY2016 (projects starting in mid-2015) must be submitted on or before July 14, 2014.


  • Grant funds may not be used for work that is already underway or complete.
  • Grant awards will be made upon passage of the State's Capital Budget in April of each year. Please review the Grant Administration Schedule in the Grant Guidelines very carefully.
  • All architects, engineers, consultants, and contractors whose services are paid for with grant funds must qualify through MHT bidding procedures (see Grant Procurement Guidelines at prior to the beginning of design or construction activities. 
  • Projects involving historic properties must conform to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties (36 CFR Part 68).
  • A Perpetual Preservation Easement must be conveyed to MHT on any historic property assisted by this grant.
  • Structures used for religious purposes may be eligible for grant assistance generally for exterior work only and will be reviewed for eligibility on a case by case basis. Spaces or objects used primarily for religious purposes are not eligible for funding. 
  • State and federally-owned properties typically are otherwise protected and do not rank through competition for funding through the Program. Please contact MHT if your project falls into this category.

Eligible Activities

Eligible Activities

  • Acquisition, construction, and capital improvement of buildings, sites, or communities of historical or cultural importance to the African American experience in Maryland..
  • Pre-development costs directly associated with a project to rehabilitate or restore historic properties. Such pre-development costs may cover historic structure reports and studies, the preparation of plans and specifications, necessary archeological investigations, and reasonable fees for architectural, design, engineering and other special services.

Ineligible Activities

See the current year’s application, for additional program details.

Applicant Eligibility

Non-profit organizations and local jurisdictions are eligible to apply for African American Heritage Preservation Grant funding.

Non-profit organizations and business entities must be in good standing with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation, qualified to do business in Maryland and have the legal capacity and authority to incur obligations under the grant program. Contact the State Department of Assessments and Taxation to determine your organization’s status.

Private individuals and business entities may also sponsor African American Heritage Preservation Grants, however, they should be aware that the selection criteria typically favor the selection of projects and properties owned or sponsored by non-profit organizations and local jurisdictions.

Structures used for religious purposes may be eligible for grant assistance for exterior work only and will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Cemeteries may be eligible for grant assistance; however, generally they are not ranked highly for funding unless their exceptional significance is clearly demonstrated, i.e. association with significant individuals, distinctive design features, association with historic events, or importance of the information they impart.  The applicant must make a compelling case for the exceptional significance of the cemetery.

State and federally-owned properties typically do not receive funding through the program.

Award Amounts

Grant awards generally range from a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $100,000. 

Matching Requirements

Local governments, business entities, and private individuals are required to provide dollar-for-dollar matching funds for their project.  These matching funds may consist of cash, an equivalent dollar value of in-kind contributions, or a combination of cash and in-kind.  In general, projects which provide a maximum cash match receive greater scores in the selection process.  Funds from other state programs are not eligible as match.

Nonprofit organizations are not required to provide matching funds; however, matching funds are strongly recommended and will enhance the competitiveness of the application.
Please review the application guidelines and instructions for a detailed list of eligible and ineligible costs.

If awarded funding, applicants will be required to document all matching funds shown in the application’s project budget.

Application Process and Timeline

African American Heritage Preservation Program grant awards are made once annually.  Applications are evaluated and ranked by the MCAAHC in accordance with Project Selection Criteria provided for in COMAR  The MCAAHC and the MHT Board of Trustees then forward their funding recommendations to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for inclusion in the Governor’s Capital Budget for the next fiscal year. 

Specific dates for submission vary from year to year, but follow this general schedule:

  • Early Spring 2014 – Grant applications available on the MHT website.
  • Early Spring 2014 – statewide series of grant workshops
  • July 14, 2014 - Completed applications due to MHT by this date
  • August – October 2014 – Applications are reviewed by MCAAHC and MHT
  • November 1, 2014 – Funding recommendations forwarded to DBM
  • January – April 2015 – Announcement and approval of FY 2013 Capital Budget
  • July – October 2015 – Execution of grant agreements
  • June 2016 - Deed of perpetual Historic Preservation Easement, if required, is recorded, or Preservation Agreement signed.
  • July 14, 2017 – Last day for proposed work to begin.
  • November 1, 2017 – Acquisition and construction must be completed.

Special Requirements

Projects involving historic real property are expected to be consistent with preservation best practices and meet high preservation standards.   All project work must be consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. These standards provide guidance in developing appropriate approaches to the restoration and rehabilitation of historic properties.  The general philosophy is that historic materials must be retained and repaired whenever possible.  Should the historic fabric be irreparable due to advanced deterioration, then the materials should be replaced in kind.

Easement Requirements

A Perpetual Preservation Easement must be conveyed to the MHT or an entity acceptable to MHT on all historic real property assisted by these grants unless this requirement is waived by the Secretary of Planning. A Preservation Agreement must be signed with MHT or an entity acceptable to MHT on all historic properties other than real property.  Historic properties are those properties listed on or determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The easement or preservation agreement is executed between the owner and the easement/preservation agreement holder, before capital improvements begin and funds are disbursed.

Archeological Investigations

In many circumstances, archeological investigations must be conducted prior to construction work.  For those investigations that result in the recovery of artifacts, the artifacts must be conserved in a qualified facility, such as the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, according to theStandards and Guidelines, Technical Update No. 1: Collections and Conservation Standards (Revised, July 1, 2005).


This page updated: June 24, 2014