Largest Preservation Fund in American History to Save African American Landmarks Announces $3M in 2021 Grants

The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund distributed roughly $350,000 between five Georgia organizations for 2021 grants, including one in St. Simons Island.. 

The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is an initiative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The $350,000 awarded to Georgia grantees was a part of their distribution of $3 million in funding used to support the preservation of African American landmarks across the United States. 

This year’s $3 million disbursal represents the largest single disbursement in the Action Fund’s four-year history.  The organization has granted a total of $7.3 million dollars since its inception.

Georgia’s grantees were five of 40 grantees across the United States. 

The Action Fund released a statement by Lonnie Bunch, the first African American and first historian to serve as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution saying,the action fund is the largest resource dedicated to the preservation of African American architectural landmarks in U.S. history. 

“These grants will positively impact 40 communities nationwide and result in the creation of a visible, preserved legacy of African American contributions,” Bunch said. 

The Associate Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Tiffany Tolbert says: 

“The African American Cultural Heritage Action fund has a goal of preserving and telling the full story of historic sites associated with African American activism, achievements, culture and education,” Tolbert said. “The purpose of the action fund is to provide resources and assistance, and elevate the stories of the places where African Americans have contributed to the American story.” 

Tolbert says the initiative fulfills their goals in a number of ways including providing grants, providing technical assistance to historic sites across the country, elevating the significance of the locations through digital and print content and engaging research to conduct education surrounding historic stories. That’s only a small amount of what the initiative does, she said. 

This year’s grants were given across four categories: capacity building, project planning, capital, and programming and interpretation. 

2021 African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Georgia Grantees Regional Recipients

Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society (Sapelo Island, Georgia) Developers and gentrification have long threatened Gullah Geechee land and cultural heritage. This grant will help seed a new emergency fund—known as the Gullah Geechee Legal Defense Fund—to assist Gullah property owners with retaining land ownership and fight forced sales from rising taxes and speculative investors.

St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition (St. Simons Island, Georgia) To stimulate heritage-based economic development by Gullah Geechee residents, a new entrepreneurial training program will be developed to educate descendants in historical interpretation, culinary arts, and architectural rehabilitation.

To learn more about the Action Fund and the 2021 grantees, visit

About The Author

Brandy Simpkins

Brandy Simpkins is a born and raised Savannahian and an alumna of Savannah Savannah State University where she received her B.A. in English Language & Literature. Simpkins enjoys writing more than anything else in the world. She is a curious journalist, an astute essayist, and captivating spoken-word artist...
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