On July 15, the National Trust for Historic Preservation pledged more than $3 million in grants to 40 sites and organizations through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (the Action Fund). Over the past four years, the National Trust funded 105 historic sites connected to Black history, and invested more than $7.3 million into helping preserve landscapes and buildings that are connected to Black cultural heritage.
This year’s funds were awarded to key places and organizations that help the Action Fund protect and restore significant historic sites. Grants were awarded in four categories: Capacity Building, Project Planning, Capital and Programming and Interpretation. Grantees included History Colorado, African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard, Oakland Public Library and National Negro Opera Company, among others.
The Action Fund is now the largest preservation effort to support Black historic sites, and has accumulated more than $50 million in funding since its creation in 2016. This year’s pledge marks the largest expenditure in the Action Fund’s history, which doubled in size thanks to a $20 million grant by philanthropists Mackenzie Scott and Dan Jewett. Other major funders so far in 2021 included The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, President and Mrs. George W. Bush, Chapman Foundation and an anonymous donation in memory of Ahmaud Arbery.
Robert F. Smith’s Commitment to Preserving African American History
As a philanthropist and racial justice advocate, Robert F. Smith is committed to preserving the rich history of Black America, and has made frequent donations to organizations and places that aid these efforts through Fund II Foundation.
Smith is the founding director and President of Fund II Foundation, a charitable foundation focused on improving lives and opportunities for African Americans and other marginalized populations. Established in 2014, Fund II Foundation makes donations to charitable organizations that are dedicated to preserving the African-American experience, safeguarding human rights, protecting the environment, facilitating music education and sustaining critical American values.
To date, Fund II Foundation has given almost $250 million in grant money to a range of charities including The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, The United Negro College Fund, NPower, The Opportunity Network and The National Park Foundation. In 2019, Fund II Foundation made headlines for helping ensure Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s homestead in Atlanta, Georgia was preserved through the National Park Service with a grant provided to the National Park Foundation.
In other efforts to preserve African American culture, Smith made a historic $20 million donation to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016. The donation supports the museum’s digitization programs as well as community outreach and curatorial initiatives. To honor Smith’s generosity, the museum renamed their Explore Your Family History Center to the Robert F. Smith Explore Your Family History Center.
Learn more about Robert F. Smith’s commitment to preserving African American culture.