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What We Offer - National Fund For Sacred Places

What We Offer

The National Fund for Sacred Places provides technical and financial support for congregations undertaking significant capital projects at historic sacred places.

Christ Church Philadelphia by Samuel Markey

What We’re Looking For

The National Fund for Sacred Places assesses applicant eligibility according to the core criteria shown below, while also striving to build a diverse participant pool that reflects a broad range of geographic, cultural, and religious identities.

Historic, Cultural, or Architectural Significance

We are looking for buildings that have historic, cultural, or architectural significance—and sites that have important and relevant stories to tell. Many of our participants are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the state register, or the local register. Your building does not have to be on one of these lists, but eligibility for one or more of these lists is a good benchmark for National Fund eligibility.

As part of the National Trust’s commitment to telling the full American story, we particularly encourage congregations to apply that illuminate a unique or overlooked aspect of American history and that expand our understanding of our shared national heritage. We encourage submissions related to historic sacred places of importance to historically and contemporaneously underrepresented communities including, but not limited to, women, immigrants, Asian Americans, Black Americans, Latine Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and LGBTQIA communities.

Successful applicants are able to demonstrate their place in history by answering questions such as:

 

  • Does the building tell a story relevant to our history—either cultural or religious?
  • Does the history highlight previously underrecognized communities, stories, or locations?
  • How has the building served the community over time? Does the building have a great physical presence in its community due to its location or programming?
  • Is the building the work of a notable architect? If so, is it a high-quality example of their body of work?
  • Is the building an exceptional example of its architectural style or building technology?
  • Does the building embody the congregation’s resilience over time?

Community-Serving Congregations

We are looking for congregations that are engaged in their communities and that are serving others. Engaged congregations operate and host programming that serves vulnerable, at-risk, and diverse populations; share space with non-affiliated groups and organizations (often at subsidized rates); work with other congregations, faith-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and/or municipalities; and have a widespread reputation for being a welcoming center of community life.

Project Scope and Need

We fund historic preservation projects addressing urgent repair needs related to structural components, walls, roof, and/or other elements of the building envelope that are integral to building health and preservation. Projects that improve functionality or improve accessibility of the property in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are also eligible, as well as renovation projects that make vacant or underused space usable for community outreach, but applicants should demonstrate that urgent repair needs to the building envelope have already been identified by a building condition assessment and addressed before proposing ADA or interior rehabilitation projects.

All projects must adhere to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, which provide direction in making appropriate choices in planning repairs, alterations, and additions that may be part of a rehabilitation project.

We prioritize congregations/projects where there is a demonstrated need (meaning that the congregation cannot raise the funds alone) or where it is clear that our grant will have a catalytic effect (meaning that our grant is likely to lead to additional monies being contributed to the project).

Readiness

Once-in-a-generation capital projects require a great deal of planning. We are looking for applicants that understand their buildings’ needs and that are ready to undertake a capital campaign. National Fund congregations typically have a history of successful capital campaigns, which demonstrate an ability to raise significant funds and complete a project.

Successful congregations come to us with a realistic fundraising goal, which has been generated with the help of qualified preservation professionals and is not too far beyond the congregation’s fundraising capacity.

Healthy Congregations

The National Fund prioritizes healthy, stable congregations so that our investment is truly impactful and lasting. We look for the following, although this is not an exhaustive list of characteristics that indicate healthy congregations: tenured, well-respected clergy; capable lay leadership; stable or growing membership; financial strength and stability; support of the judicatory or governing body, if applicable; and a history of weathering any congregational conflict or trauma with resilience.

Strong Applications

The National Fund is a very competitive program, so we urge our applicants to give it their best effort. Applications should:

  • Be completed in full with all required attachments
  • Make a compelling case for support
  • Clearly articulate the project’s goals and components
  • Include high-quality, high-resolution photographs with photo credits that help us to fully appreciate your building(s)

Grant Eligibility

Is your building, congregation, and project eligible? Read the eligibility guidelines and requirements, or use the self-assessment questionnaire to determine if you are a good fit for the National Fund for Sacred Places program.

First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe by Krista Peterson

Interested in applying to the National Fund for Sacred Places?

Before applying for a grant, please make sure that your building, congregation, and project are eligible by reading our eligibility requirements and guidelines, or by using the self-assessment questionnaire to see if you may be a good candidate.

Grant Conditions

Grant recipients will be required to sign a contract agreeing to the conditions of the National Fund program. Grant conditions include:

Grant recipients must acknowledge that the National Fund for Sacred Places is a historic preservation program, not a program for new construction.

Grants or matching funds cannot be used for lobbying activities or to participate in any political campaign
in support of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.

Any documents or plans for preservation work that result from the project must conform to the Secretary
of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

Grant recipients must acknowledge the support of the National Fund for Sacred Places in all print, audio, electronic, and film/video media that it produces concerning the Project.

All procurement of goods and services for the Project shall be conducted in a manner that provides maximum open and free competition and consideration of minority and women-owned business enterprises. Grantee must also maintain adequate procedures to ensure that the procurement of goods and services, including consultant services, do not present a conflict of interest.

Overall stewardship of a congregation’s historic resources, or the church’s impact on community historic resources, is part of the evaluation. A project or plan that requires demolition of a historic building or has an adverse impact on a historic resource will not be eligible, even if the demolition or impact is not funded by the National Fund for Sacred Places.

Consultants must be approved by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Partners for Sacred Places prior to the distribution of funds.

National Fund grants may not be used to cover administrative costs or to subsidize staff salaries.

Grant projects must be completed within the timeframe outlined in the Grant Agreement. Projects cannot begin construction until National Fund staff have reviewed and approved provided plans and documentation.

A final report and financial accounting of the expenditure of the grant funds must be submitted within one month of the project completion date. A final report form will be provided. If the project is not completed in accordance with the contract, the grant funds must be returned.

Program Details

Learn more about what we offer, including additional information about training support, planning grants, technical assistance, capital grants, and matching funds.

Sacred Heart Parish by Sacred Heart Parish

Apply For A Grant

Learn more about project eligibility, grant requirements, the application process, and how you can get started.

First Congregational United Church of Christ by Steve Bourne

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez