$20M Available To Historic Congregations

Lilly Endowment Inc. has renewed its support for the National Fund for Sacred Places, extending the program through 2027 and doubling grants to more than $20 million.

Lilly Endowment Inc. has renewed its support for the National Fund for Sacred Places, extending the program through 2027 and doubling the amount of capital grants available to congregations to more than $20 million. During the next five years, the National Fund will support congregations that have buildings of historical significance and architectural character, and that play an essential role in meeting the larger spiritual, social, and economic needs of the communities they serve.

The National Fund for Sacred Places is a program of Partners for Sacred Places in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and provides financial and technical support for community-serving historic houses of worship across America, including $250,000 or more in capital grants. The collaboration builds on the organizations’ many years of experience in the field. For more than three decades, Partners for Sacred Places has helped congregations use best stewardship practices with their historic facilities in order to strengthen, serve, and celebrate their communities for the common good. And the National Trust for Historic Preservation has been the nation’s leading preservation organization for more than 60 years, a trailblazer in advocacy and grant-making to preserve America’s diverse history.

Lilly Endowment made two grants to support the National Fund for Sacred Places program:

  • A grant of $5,769,305 to Partners for Sacred Places will support its leadership and administration of the National Fund program. Partners will use the funds to provide planning grants, technical support, and education and training to congregations selected to participate in the National Fund for Sacred Places program.
  • A grant of $22,995,211 to the National Trust will enable the organization to provide capital grants to approximately 80 congregations selected for the National Fund program. Capital grants may be used for repairs or restoration, which can include efforts to restore and maintain key artistic and architectural features of the churches.

“These grants are an affirmation that Lilly Endowment sees the impact the National Fund has on congregations and communities,” said Bob Jaeger, president of Partners for Sacred Places. “The National Fund is not only about preserving historic houses of worship, which is enormously important, but also about building capacity within congregations so they can be self-sustaining and continue to serve their communities for many years to come. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to extend the program, serving many more congregations through 2027.”

Historic Congregations
Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, part of the 2022 cohort of the National Fund for Sacred Places.

Historic Congregations
Arch Street Meeting in Philadelphia, part of the 2022 cohort of the National Fund for Sacred Places.

“The National Fund for Sacred Places is the only grant program of its kind in the nation and, year after year, the demand for funding grows,” said Rachel Hildebrandt, director of the National Fund. “We are thrilled that we will be able to continue to serve America’s most important and vital historic houses of worship, and to grow our program to serve a greater number of congregations in the years to come.”

“The National Trust is proud to continue its collaboration with Partners for Sacred Places, and grateful to the Lilly Endowment for providing the generous support to make this work possible,” said Paul Edmondson, President and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Over the past 7 years, the National Fund for Sacred Places has supported critical repair needs at nearly 100 houses of worship across the nation, each of which represents a historically significant architectural treasure and a cornerstone of the local communities they serve. We look forward to supporting many more congregations with these significant new resources available to congregations through the National Fund for Sacred Places.”

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Since 2016, the National Fund has awarded and pledged $18 million to 97 community-serving congregations representing 24 faith traditions in 36 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. So far, this grantmaking has resulted in more than $3 leveraged for every grant dollar invested in participating congregations.

Letters of intent for the next round of grants, which will be awarded in the fall of this year, are open on January 11, 2023 and due by February 24, 2023. Details about the application process, eligibility requirements, and selection criteria are available here.

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