Applying for grants

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Minnesota Local History Blog.

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The Minnesota Historical Society’s Local History Services helps Minnesotans preserve and share their history. This blog is a resource of best practices on the wide variety of museum, preservation, conservation, funding, and non-profit management topics. We’re here to help.

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Applying for grants

By: Tamsin Himes | Funding | Preservation & Facilities | December 15, 2020

If you haven’t already, go check out this blog post about the ins and outs of getting started with the Legacy Grant process. If you have already, this is the place to be! In this blog posts I’ll cover how grantees generally move through the Legacy Grant program. Be sure to take a look at the graphic at the end of this blog post. It gives a quick visual overview of the grant process. 

Grant applicants can apply for several different kinds of grants depending on the needs of the building and the stage of their project. In general, grants for historic buildings fall under one of three categories: Predevelopment Research Documents (this would be either a Historic Structure Report or a Historic Building Conditions Assessment); Construction Documents; and Construction. For each of these grant applications, certain required documents must be submitted with the application. Check out the Grants Manual for the specific requirements for each grant. 

As mentioned in the previous blog post an applicant may apply for any one of the three types of grants listed above, even if they have not completed the previous stages of preservation (Conditions Assessment and/or Construction Documents) through the grant program. This is acceptable as long as they have the required documents that must be included with the application.  Though it is not a requirement to move through the grant process exactly as outlined here, there are many benefits to starting at the beginning with the predevelopment documents and moving through the grants sequentially. 

Conditions Assessment Typically, a Conditions Assessment grant falls under the small request ($10,000 budget), but this depends on the size, type, and condition of your building. If a building is exceptionally large or for other reasons requires more analysis and care, then you may need to either apply for a large request for this step, or cover additional costs with your own match funds.  It is advisable to talk with multiple architects and obtain a few informal estimates before applying for a grant. 

Whether through a large or small grant, once awarded, the process for this grant will include these steps: 

  • Awarding of grant 
  • Procurement (the grantee is responsible for researching, obtaining bids, and choosing a historic architect for the project). 
  • Condition/Milestone reviews: milestone reviews can vary depending on the needs of your specific project, but will always include 1) submission of an outline of the report 2) submission of a draft of the report at 75% completion. Both of these and any other milestones set when the grant is awarded will be reviewed, commented upon and approved by the Grants Office. 
  • Submission and acceptance of the Final Report 
  • Closing out of grant 

For more details about Conditions Assessments and their purpose/importance, check out this blog post. 

After completing a Conditions Assessment First, congratulations! This is a major step in the preservation of your building and is the result of a lot of work, effort, and coordination by you, the architect, and the Grants Office. Using your Conditions Assessment as a guide, work with your organization, community, and stakeholders to plan your next steps in preservation. Normally the next step would be focusing on the most urgent work recommended by the architect. Once you’ve selected this, you’re ready to apply for your second grant and the next step in the grant process. Head on over to this blog post to learn more about Construction Documents and Construction grants.

Ask us questions! This blog post is one of a series of post explaining the grants process. The next one can be found here. We at MNHS are always happy to guide you through any questions you may have. You can join us for one of our monthly open houses or you can contact us directly if you have any questions! 

Tamsin Himes, Design Reviewer: tamsin.himes@mnhs.org, Grants Office: grants@mnhs.org