$4 Million Awarded to Help Protect 31 Historic Black Churches in U.S.

January 30, 2024
Former Calvin PresbyterianChurch soon to be POC Former Calvin PresbyterianChurch soon to be POC

In its second round of Preserving Black Churches grants, the National Trust's African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund provides $4M in funding to further protect the institutional legacy of America's Black churches.

Washington, D.C. - As the nation commemorates the life and impact of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the National Trust for Historic Preservation's African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is awarding $4 million in its second round of Preserving Black Churches grants to 31 historic Black churches across the U.S. With over $95 million in funding, the Action Fund is the largest U.S. resource dedicated to preserving historic African American places. Since launching the Preserving Black Churches in 2022, the Action Fund has provided over $9.8 million in grants to over 80 historic churches.

Black churches stand as timeless bastions of faith, resilience, and achievement in communities across America. These sacred spaces have been the birthplace of movements, the planning grounds for change, and a refuge for those seeking solace.

"We created the Preserving Black Churches program to ensure the historic Black church's legacy is told and secured. That these cultural assets can continue to foster community resilience and drive meaningful change in our society," said Brent Leggs, Executive Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. "We couldn't be more excited to honor our second round of grantees and ensure that African Americans - and our entire nation - can enjoy an empowered future built on the inspiring foundations of our past."

Preserving Black Churches is a $20 Million Action Fund program that equips historic Black churches and their congregations with the critical resources and technical preservation expertise to protect the historic assets and legacies they steward. With this round's grants ranging from $50,000 to $200,000, the Preserving Black Churches program helps congregations solve urgent and ongoing preservation threats such as deferred maintenance, insufficient funding, demolition, water filtration, and mold contamination.

"Black churches have been at the forefront of meaningful democratic reform since this nation's founding. They're a living testament to the resilience of our ancestors in the face of unimaginably daunting challenges," said Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., historian and advisor to the Action Fund. "The heart of our spiritual world is the Black church. These places of worship, these sacred cultural centers, must exist for future generations to understand who we were as a people."

With leadership support from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Action Fund advances strategies that model and strengthen historic Black churches' stewardship and asset management, interpretation, and fundraising activities across the country.

Sites selected for this year's Preserving Black Churches grants include historic sites such as:


Calvin Memorial Presbyterian Church

Grant Category: Planning Grants

Grantee: POC Collaborative Community Center | Omaha, Nebraska

Constructed in 1910, this Neoclassical Revival style building was originally celebrated as an integrated church but became an all-Black congregation as redlining policies reinforced hysteria around racial integration in the mid-20th century. The building is not currently habitable due to structural damage. Funding will support a preservation feasibility study, including a building inspection and assessment report, and allow the church to engage an architect to determine the next steps for structural rehabilitation and preservation.

Published: Omaha Star, Omaha Nebraska Vol. 86 No.3, January 19, 2024