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Minnesota Local History Blog.

Minnesota Local History Blog.

Advice and help with building history capacity.

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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Funding

National Register help: Property Evaluation Grant

By: Tamsin Himes | Funding | Preservation & Facilities | April 12, 2021

Image by Tamsin Himes

National Register help: Property Evaluation Grant

Listing in the National Register of Historic Places (National Register) is a prestigious designation that can have many benefits, including opening doors to funding opportunities for historic building preservation. The nomination is an involved process. We at the Minnesota Historical Society can help with pointers and funding to complete the documentation, but the process itself is carried out by the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the National Parks Service (NPS). Before anything else, be sure to contact SHPO to fully understand the listing process.

Contact SHPO So, your organization has in its ownership a beautiful property that you believe has local/state/national significance and you want to find out how to apply to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Your first point of contact should be the State Historic Preservation Office. SHPO will give you all the information you need about the nomination process and how to get started. 

Eligibility: property evaluation SHPO will likely tell you, among other things, that a property evaluation should be completed to determine if the property is eligible for listing. This is where the Legacy Grant program comes in. There is a Structured Grant available specifically for property evaluation, which results in an official SHPO opinion on the eligibility of the property:  “This structured application provides funding to conduct an evaluation of a property for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Properties listed in the National Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture.” (Grants Manual, p. 91) 

Grant Application Applicants can apply for this Structured Grant via the same platform as all other Legacy Grants. In order to be eligible for this grant your organization must fall under one of four categories: 1) nonprofit 501c3 organizations 2) units of state or local government 3) federally recognized tribal organizations, and 4) educational institutions. If your organization falls under one of these, then your next step is to visit this page for information about requesting an account on our grants portal. After being approved for an account, you will have access to the required paperwork and forms to begin the application process. 

When can I apply? The Property Evaluation Structured Grant is a small grant ($10,000 and under), so there are four opportunities a year to apply. Visit this page for deadline information. 

Who do I contact with questions? If you have questions about the National Register listing process, contact the SHPO here. If you have questions relating to grants and how MNHS can help you, contact the Grants Office at grants@mnhs.org or me at, tamsin.himes@mnhs.org

National Register Nomination: Why Get Listed?

By: Tamsin Himes | Local History | Funding | Preservation & Facilities | April 1, 2021

Image by Tamsin Himes

National Register Nomination: Why Get Listed?

Applying for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (National Register) can be a long process that often requires a significant amount of work and resources. Is it worth it? The short answer is that it depends on the building and its situation -- ownership, purpose, use, etc. But there are important benefits that can come with being listed. The purpose of this blog post is to highlight some of the benefits of being in the National Register and to give pointers for how to get started on the process of applying for nomination.

Funding. If you are at all involved with a historic building or historic preservation efforts, you know that funding is both scarce and essential, especially in the beginning stages of “saving” a historic building. Being listed in the National Register opens up opportunities for funding that otherwise would not be available, including the opportunity to apply for Legacy Grant funds. (Note: National Register listing is one of the requirements for eligibility for Legacy funds. Please see our website or Grants Manual for additional information and requirements.) 

History. The National Register nomination process requires extensive research into a property’s history, design, physical features, condition, and its use by the community over time. This is invaluable information that will be an asset to your community and organization for purposes beyond designation. History from these documents is often used for walking tours, interpretation, tourism brochures, etc. 

Prestige. Let’s be honest -- it makes a difference to the community or in the public eye if a property has been formally acknowledged to be historically significant. In some cases that can make all the difference between success and failure in preservation efforts. As a listed building, it may be easier to convince skeptics that the property is an important resource and asset to the community.

Preservation planning. Along with research that benefits your community/organization, the information about your property,  gained through the nomination application process, can be an invaluable resource when working to improve the longevity of the building by informing future preservation work.  

These are just a few of the benefits of listing in the National Register. So, is it worth it? In many, many cases it is. And we can help you get started! Check out this blog post for information about how we can help. 

Any questions? Shoot me an email at tamsin.himes@mnhs.org (or my colleagues at grants@mnhs.org). If you have questions specifically about the National Register listing process, contact the SHPO here

Funding: Non-Legacy Grants for Preservation Projects

By: Tamsin Himes | Funding | Preservation & Facilities | February 3, 2021

All of us involved in heritage preservation are familiar with the mammoth amounts of effort and funding/resources required to keep a building or heritage asset in good condition, safe, and relevant. Finding these funding resources also can be a massive undertaking and it can often be confusing to know where to start in your search for grants and financial support. The Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants (MHCHG) program  – commonly known as the Legacy Grant program – is an incredible resource available for eligible organizations and projects here in Minnesota, and it’s a great place to start. But there are other resources out there that can also be valuable assets in your efforts to preserve history and heritage, and may sometimes be a better fit for your project or organization. 

This blog post lists some of those additional grants and resources. Most of these are directed specifically toward building preservation, but some are also available for a broader range of preservation projects such as interpretation, digitization, research, and collection conservation. 

You may notice that all of the grant programs below are specific to certain organizations or groups, and you might be wondering “What about private owners of historic buildings or historic private residences?”

This is tricky and there aren’t many (if any) grant programs that will fund preservation work on private residences -- even if the building is on the National Register. Normally grant programs have stipulations in place that require a degree of public benefit from the project that is funded by grant money. If you are looking for resources for a privately owned building, you may be more successful in researching tax credits/incentives and low-interest loans available for preservation work. This article has some good advice for privately-owned preservation projects. 

National Trust for Historic Preservation  “Grants from National Trust Preservation Funds (NTPF) are intended to encourage preservation at the local level by supporting on-going preservation work and by providing seed money for preservation projects. These grants help stimulate public discussion, enable local groups to gain the technical expertise needed for preservation projects, introduce the public to preservation concepts and techniques, and encourage financial participation by the private sector.” National Trust grant applications are available for eligible parties which include public entities, 501c3 organizations, and other non-profit organizations.

Certified Local Government Grants “Certified Local Governments may use these federal matching grants for local preservation projects. Funding comes from the Historic Preservation Fund, appropriated annually by the U.S. Congress; federal regulations require that the SHPO distribute to CLGs at least 10 percent of its allocation each year.” This grant through the State Historic Preservation Office does not fund construction/bricks and mortar projects but could be an ideal funding source for pre-construction work such as building reuse plans or historic preservation plans. As the name suggests, these grants are intended specifically for local government organizations. Find grant information here

Save America’s Treasures Grants “SAT funds the preservation, rehabilitation, and conservation of nationally significant historic properties and collections. Eligible properties must be either currently: 1) individually listed as a National Historic Landmark or be a contributing property within a National Historic Landmark district, or 2) individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places for national significance (properties listed at the state or local significance are not eligible) or be a contributing property within a nationally significant National Register Historic District. Properties include buildings, sites, structures, and objects.” Find grant information here

State Capital Projects Grants-in-Aid Eligible projects are publicly owned buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. “The work must meet the following conditions: 1) the expenditure funded must be for a public purpose; 2) the project expenditures funded must be for land, buildings, or other improvements of a capital nature; 3) the work must fall within one of the prescribed categories; 4) the project must correspond with the purpose for which funding was issued, as set forth in the bill citation on page one (Laws of Minnesota, 2014, Chapter 295, Section 12); and 5) the work must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.” Find more grant information here.

History of Equal Rights Grants “Funded through the Historic Preservation Fund, the History of Equal Rights grant program preserves sites related to the struggle of all people to achieve equal rights in America. The History of Equal Rights grants are not limited to any specific group and are intended to include the broadest possible interpretation of sites associated with efforts to achieve equal rights.” This is a yearly grant with an application deadline in December. Eligible parties include states, government entities, non-profits, and federally recognized tribes. Buidlings must also be on the National Register of Historic Places. Find grant information here.

African American Civil Rights Grants “The African American Civil Rights Grant Program (Civil Rights Grants) documents, interprets, and preserves sites and stories related to the African American struggle to gain equal rights as citizens.” This grant program has one grant round a year, normally in late fall, and is open to a broad range of preservation projects, not just historic building preservation. Find more grant information here

Daughters of the American Revolution This may be a long shot, but if you happen to be a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, this grant is a great opportunity. “The DAR Historic Preservation Grants provide financial assistance for projects that preserve historic resources, sites, and other history-related projects. Examples include restoration of historic buildings; digitization or preservation of documents/records; preservation of historical items/artifacts; erection of new or rededication/relocation of existing historical markers; cemetery headstone and monument conservation, etc.” Find grant information here

Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants Program “The Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants Program is a new Historic Preservation Fund grant program created in fiscal year 2018 that supports subgrant programs that enable the rehabilitation of historic properties and rehabilitate, protect, and foster economic development of rural communities.” While this grant program is not accepting applications at the moment, it may be a good one to keep an eye on in the future. Find grant information here.

Jeffris Family Foundation “The Jeffris Family Foundation assists the development of historic sites for non-profit organizations in small towns and cities in the eight states of the Midwest: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan.” More information about eligibility and grant application deadlines can be found here

This is not a comprehensive list, but hopefully, it’s helpful as a starting point for researching opportunities for your organization and historic asset. As always, please contact us in the Heritage Preservation department if you have questions: grants@mnhs.org or tamsin.himes@mnhs.org

Construction Documents and Construction Grants

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

This is one of a series of four blog posts about how to navigate the Legacy grant program. This post focuses on construction documents grants and construction grants. The first blog post in the series can be found here. Be sure and check out the graphic at the end of this post for a quick overview of the grant process. 

Construction Documents Construction documents comprise everything you need – designs, technical specifications, etc – to put your project out to bid in order to move forward with construction. Your next step is to obtain these documents. Normally this requires a large grant, though exceptions do exist depending on the size and complexity of the project. Since the architect that produced the Conditions Assessment has an in-depth understanding of the building and the needs of the project, often grantees choose to continue to work with this same architect for the production of Construction Documents. In this case, a grantee would present a pre-existing contract and describe the procurement process which was followed on the condition assessment. Continuing with the same architect is not a requirement, however, and grantees can choose to work with any qualified architect after going through the proper procurement process. 

While completing the application, be sure to include a photo file of the building and area of the proposed project. This is a required document, so if not included, the application will be sent back and you will be encouraged to re-apply in the next grant round. 

The process of a large grant for Construction Documents is similar to a Conditions Assessment: 

  • Awarding of grant 
  • Procurement: the requirements for procurement for a large grant are more intense than for a small grant. You can find the requirements detailed on page 128 (Appendix I)  of the Grants Manual
  • Condition/Milestone reviews: these will vary depending on the project, but will always include 1) submission of the Schematic Design (this should be a 30% draft of the completed, final product); 2) submission of Design Development documents (a 60% completion draft); 3) submission of Construction Documents (a 90% competition draft). Additional milestones can include mortar testing, plaster repair techniques, window design reviews, and others. 
  • Final Report submission 
  • Closing out of the grant. 

Construction Now you’re ready to start the most exciting stage of your project: construction. Construction projects fall under the large grant category almost without fail. As a reminder, large grant application deadlines fall only once a year. Since the cost of construction is high, large grants are much more competitive than small grants. As with any application, small or large,your application must be well written, well throughout, clearly articulated, and of course, contain all the required documents. 

As with Construction Documents projects, it is up to the grantee whether or not to continue working with the same architect who produced the predevelopment documents. However, in many cases, it is advisable since the architect will already have a comprehensive knowledge of the building and project. It should be noted switching to a different architect at this point in the project is not simple and among other issues, architectural drawings normally cannot just be passed from one architecture firm to another. 

Construction grant process: 

  • Awarding of grant 
  • Procurement: as noted above, grantees may choose to continue with the same architect by showing the pre-existing contract. If the grantee chooses not to continue with the previous architect, the procurement process must be followed before selecting an architect.
  • Condition/Milestone reviews: these will vary depending on the project, but will always include 1) construction site visit at 50% project completion. Additional milestones may be included when the grant is awarded. 
  • Final Report submission 
  • Closing out of the grant.

What next? You’ve successfully navigated the Legacy Grant process. This doesn’t mean that you have to be done though. After completing a full project, now you have the opportunity to consult your conditions assessment document, and the work priorities recommended there, to decide on another project to begin. After choosing, you can start by applying for another Construction Documents grant and follow that with a Construction grant application as you have previously done. This process can be repeated as long as there are preservation needs for your building. 

Ask us questions! I hope this explanation of the grant process has been helpful to you, whether you are new to Legacy grants or have extensive experience with the program. This blog post is one of a series of post explaining the grants process. If you haven’t already, take a look at the previous posts 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

Infographic: the Legacy Grant program

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 

 

Choosing the right grant

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

If you haven’t yet, take a look at this blog post to understand more about getting started with the grants program. Also, be sure to check out the graphic at the end of this blog post. It gives a quick visual overview of the grant program. 

Now that you have determined that both your organization and your building are eligible and have an account, the next step is to find out which grant best fits the needs and situation of your building and organization. Legacy Grants are divided into two funding levels: small requests ($10,000 and under) and large requests (over $10,000). There are four small request “rounds” (or application deadlines) a year, and there is one large request round (deadline) a year. More information about deadlines and when to apply can be found here

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. 

Side note: 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, as long as they have the required documents that must be included with the application. However, if an applicant has an open predevelopment grant (Conditions Assessment or Historic Structures Report) they cannot apply for a grant for construction documents or construction for that same property until the grant is closed out. 

For the purposes of this blog, I’ll describe the process starting from the “beginning” -- with an application for a Historic Building Conditions Assessment. This is a formal document produced by a qualified Historic Architect that analyzes the current state of the building, documents areas of significance and historic fabric, and identifies and prioritizes necessary preservation work. A Conditions Assessment is a predevelopment document and a vital part of the preservation process. It is intended to give direction to years of preservation and planning for your building. Later grant applications and preservation projects will be based on the recommendations within this document. You can read more about conditions assessments in this blog post. 

The term “qualified Historic Architect” may be confusing at first. This just means that the architect hired to conduct a Conditions Assessment must meet the requirements set by the Secretary of Interior’s Standards. Those requirements can be found here

Finding a Historic Architect can also seem overwhelming at first, but the Minnesota Historical Society has a resource called the Preservation Specialist Directory to help you begin looking for one that fits your needs and the needs of your building. Note: the Preservation Specialist Directory is not comprehensive or curated. Architects and other professionals can essentially add themselves to the list. It is intended to be a starting point for researching preservation specialists and the professionals included in the directory are not endorsed by MNHS in any way. 

Pro tip: the Grants Manual is your friend! Take the time to read up on the grant you’re planning to apply for. I’m giving a brief overview here, but everything you need to know is spelled out in detail in the Grants Manual. Focus on General Information Section for setting up your account and the program's administrative requirements and the Historic Preservation Projects. No need to get bogged down in the History Projects sections when your focusing on your historic building.

If you’ve made it through this whole blog post, congrats! You’re ready to dive in and start your journey with the Legacy Grant program. After you’ve completed the steps outlined here, the next steps in the grant process are outlined in another blog post which can be found here. 

Ask us questions! This blog post is one of a series of posts 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 

Infographic: the Legacy Grant program

Navigating the Legacy Grant program for Historic Properties: Getting started

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

So let's say you’re part of an organization that has a historic building in its care. You recognize the need to begin preservation projects, but don’t know how to go about it. You’ve heard of the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants (MHCHG) program  – commonly known as the Legacy Grant program – but have no idea where to start. Or maybe you’ve just joined your county’s historical society and you’ve been tasked with the rather overwhelming job of figuring out how to move forward with much-needed building preservation. 

Whatever your specific circumstance, this blog post is for you! Here, and in subsequent blog posts, I’ll break down the Legacy Grant program into bite-size pieces and give you tips and pointers for navigating the different steps of the grant process. 

First, let's take a wide view of the grant process. I’ll get into the nitty-gritty details a bit later. Here is what it looks like simplified into different steps: 

 

Graphic showing the grant process.

Eligibility 

The first step is to make sure both the building and the organization are eligible for Legacy Funds. For organizations, there are four eligible categories: 1) nonprofit 501c3 organizations 2) units of state or local government 3) federally recognized tribal organizations, and 4) educational institutions. Buildings must be listed in the National Register of Historic Places OR in some cases, it is sufficient to be eligible for the National Register -- I’ll get to that in a minute. In addition to being on the National Register, all work on historic properties must conform to the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. 

So, what if your building is not in the National Register, but you’d like it to be? There are resources to help with that too. Jump over to this blog post for the ins and outs of the evaluation and nomination process and how the Legacy Grant program can help you.

Signing up for an account 

Before applying for a grant, you’ll need to request an account on the grants portal. This is where all applications are submitted and where official communication happens between the applicant/grantee and the Grants Office. This is also where your grant project will “live” after the application process and where milestone reviews and grant amendments will be processed. Requesting an account is easy and simple. Just click “create an account” on this page to get started. Once your request has been approved by grants office staff, you’re ready for the next step. 

Ask us questions 

This blog post is one of a series of posts 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 

 

The Paycheck Protection Program and How it Can Help Your Small Nonprofit Survive the Pandemic

By: Todd Mahon | Funding | April 8, 2020

Nonprofits of all sizes and missions are struggling to maintain their financial health as the COVID-19 pandemic is shutting doors across the country. Congress has provided some relief for the small nonprofit community through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, otherwise known as the CARES Act. The PPP is administered by the Small Business Association (SBA). It provides forgivable loans to eligible organizations, including 501c3 nonprofit organizations. 

Eligibility

  • Includes 501(c)(3) nonprofits and 501(c)(19) nonprofits (veterans organizations)
  • Small nonprofits (500 or fewer employees)

What the Funds Can Be Used For

  • Payroll (and benefits), interest on mortgage, rent, utilities, and prior debt
  • Expenses incurred between February 15 and June 30, 2020

How Much Can Be Applied For

  • The average monthly payroll for the previous 12 months, multiplied by 2.5 -OR- $10 million---whichever is smaller.

What “Forgivable” Means

  • Forgiveness is available for the portion of the loan used for the following expenses during the covered period (8 weeks from origination)
    • Payroll costs (as defined above)
    • Interest on mortgage incurred before February 15, 2020
    • Rent obligation incurred before February 15, 2020 and
    • Utilities (electric, gas, water, transportation, phone, internet) for service that began before February 15, 2020

How to Apply

Resources and Links

The MInnesota Historical Soceity’s Local History Services office is interested in learning about the experiences of organizations that apply for these funds. We’d love to hear from you. E-mail us at localhistory@mnhs.org

Grant Workshop with Access Philanthropy

By: Joe Hoover | Funding | April 17, 2012
Full day grant workshop at the Blue Earth County Historical Society with presenter Steve Paprocki, President, Access Philanthropy.

This is a combined podcast with all four sessions for a combined length of 4 hours. Watch the presentation or download the audio.



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