Today, the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF), a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced $3 million in grant funding to protect and preserve sites representing African American history. With more than $80 million in funding, the Action Fund is the largest U.S. resource dedicated to the preservation of African American historic places.
"The cultural landscapes and historic buildings featured in this year’s list showcase the breadth and depth of African American life, history, and architecture across generations,” said Brent Leggs, Executive Director, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and Senior Vice President, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “At the National Trust, we aim to broaden the public's understanding of the Black experience in America, while also underscoring the very urgent need to identify and protect these sites for the benefit of the communities they have long served. These often-overlooked places hold aspects of history that must be protected—and used to draw inspiration and wisdom for the benefit of all Americans.”
Since its inception in 2017, the Action Fund has supported 160 places through its National Grant Program for a total investment of $12.4 million.
This year’s list further demonstrates the beauty and complexity of African American life, including sites like Detroit’s Blue Bird Inn, Home of Mamie Till Mobley and Emmett Till, and the Home and Studio of artist Faith Ringgold.
“Part of the vision from the start was to leave my house, studio and garden, as well as its extensive archives of papers, photographs and art to the foundation, so that it might ultimately become a research center and house museum,” said Faith Ringgold, Founder and President Emeritus of Anyone Can Fly Foundation. “It is with enormous pride and appreciation that I thank the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund for this grant, which will enable our board to begin to explore the necessary components and areas of expertise of making that dream a reality. May our collaboration be long and fruitful.”
The continuous expansion of the Action Fund’s National Grant Program is a result of ongoing investments from the Mellon Foundation, The JPB Foundation, Lilly Endowment, and others. Significant gifts from philanthropists like MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett and the Ford Foundation have also contributed to the preservation impact and success of the Action Fund.
“The Action Fund’s work seeks to tell more inclusive and accurate stories that reflect America’s true history, composition, and identity and to restore and transform our nation’s built and cultural heritage assets,” said Justin Garrett Moore, Humanities in Place program officer at the Mellon Foundation. “Through racial, social, and economic justice lenses and using the tools of grantmaking, capacity building, and advocacy, the National Trust is creating the infrastructure to grow and sustain a movement for preserving key African American heritage sites and telling a fuller American story.”
Action Fund grants support preservation efforts across four categories:
- Building Capital: Supporting the restoration and rehabilitation of cultural assets important to Black history
- Increasing Organizational Capacity: Providing leadership staff positions within nonprofits stewarding Black heritage sites
- Project Planning and Development: Funding planning activities tied to the development of preservation plans, feasibility studies, and fundraising
- Programming and Education: Advancing storytelling through public education and creative interpretation
Learn more about the Action Fund and the 2022 recipients at www.savingplaces.org/actionfund.