Skip to main content

Charleston Business

National Trust Awards Eight HBCU Grants for Cultural Stewardship Planning

Feb 22, 2021 02:19PM ● By David Dykes

The National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund announced more than $650,000 in grant awards to eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as a part of the new HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative.

Benedict College in Columbia was among those receiving an award.

The program empowers HBCUs with resources to protect, preserve, and leverage their historic campuses, buildings, and landscapes, ensuring the symbols of African American excellence and American achievement are preserved to inspire and educate future generations.

With an initial investment of more than $1 million, the selected HBCUs will develop cultural heritage stewardship plans for either a campus-wide site or for an individual building or site.

The plans are intended to guide the grantees as they define preservation solutions to existing architectural or landscaping challenges and to identify a course of action that helps conserve their historic resources. The plans will also assist the HBCUs as they leverage funding and resources to restore and rehabilitate campus facilities.

The program, launched by the National Trust’s Action Fund last year, is a partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) with leadership support from the NEH, Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, J.M. Kaplan Fund, and the Executive Leadership Council.

The program is a $1 million initiative that offers the HBCUs funding but also leverages the trust’s 70 years of experience and expertise to help guide the restoration and preservation process at each college or university.

“HBCUs are keepers of an important American legacy,” said National Trust President and CEO Paul Edmondson, “and many of these institutions are home to important, irreplaceable historic assets that require investment to retain and adapt them for modern use.

“The National Trust for Historic Preservation is pleased to offer its expertise to support the exceptional commitment of these institutions to preserve their heritage for future generations. These grants will help ensure that these HBCUs are well equipped to address numerous preservation challenges and will serve as a model for further HBCU preservation.”

“Historically Black Colleges and Universities have yielded generations of men and women who have made significant and lasting contributions to American society and to world culture,” said award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad, co-chair of the trust’s action fund. “It is therefore important that these institutions are supported to endure for generations to come.”

 Adam Wolfson, acting chairman of the NEH which partnered with the trust on this initiative, said, “The National Endowment for the Humanities is proud to help support the preservation of the historic structures and campuses that are part of the enduring legacy of our nation's HBCUs. These institutions have played a vital role in fostering excellence, providing opportunity, and nurturing community for Black Americans. Today's awards will help strengthen our HBCUs, allowing them to continue to educate and inspire new generations of students."

This year’s HBCU awardees are:

  • Benedict College (Columbia, South Carolina) to develop a stewardship plan for historic Duckett Hall (1925).
  • Jackson State University (Jackson, Mississippi) to develop a campus-wide stewardship plan for its 245-acre campus.
  • Lane College (Jackson, Tennessee) to develop a stewardship plan for the J.K. Daniels Conference Center (1923).
  • Morgan State University (Baltimore, Maryland) to develop a campus-wide stewardship plan for its 150-acre campus.
  • Philander Smith College (Little Rock, Arkansas) to develop a stewardship plan for the Sherman E. Tate Student Recreation Center (1936).
  • Spelman College (Atlanta, Georgia) to develop a stewardship plan for the Rockefeller Fine Arts Building and Site (1964).
  • Stillman College (Tuscaloosa, Alabama) to develop a stewardship plan for Winsborough Hall (1922).
  • Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, Alabama) to develop a stewardship plan for Thrasher Hall (1895) and Sage Hall (1927).


In addition to the planning grant, each HBCU awardee will receive funding for a student professional development opportunity, enabling one student from each campus to work alongside the project team of architects, engineers, and consultants.

The support is provided through the initiative, in partnership with the Chipstone Foundation, Wunsch Americana Foundation, and James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation. Officials said the paid positions will support building a more diverse and equitable field of African American preservationists.

Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, president and CEO of Benedict College, said, “We are excited to be among the first HBCUs to receive a Cultural Heritage Stewardship Grant from the National Trust. Duckett Hall is one of our most utilized academic buildings, a place of tremendous significance to the College. This award enables us to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure its sustainability and longevity for generations to come.”

Since their founding in the 1830s, the number of HBCUs has grown to 105 Congressionally designated schools that tell the story of African American activism and the fight for education equality.

The campuses and landscapes—many of which were designed and built by African American architects and students—display ingenuity and craftsmanship, and serve as landmarks in their communities.

Since listing HBCUs in the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 1998, the National Trust has advocated and worked to strengthen the stewardship capacity of HBCUs, while also raising national awareness of their significance.