Historic houses of worship contribute significant value to their communities. Sacred places function as hubs for social service programs, the arts, and are vital to human belonging. Many of these aging and architecturally complex facilities require increasingly diverse streams of funding to be sustained as centers of community life in the 21st-century. The National Fund for Sacred Places was born out of a belief that providing technical and financial support for congregations could build capacity and increase the stability of these critical yet disappearing historic community centers.
The National Fund launched in 2016 with nearly $14 million in grants from the Indiana-based Lilly Endowment. Since then, the National Fund has awarded millions of dollars in capital grants and other support to community-serving congregations across the country. A grantmaking and support program of Partners for Sacred Places in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Fund administers monies through planning grants, training and technical assistance, coaching, and capital grants ranging from $50,000 to $250,000. Through this partnership, the program was designed to award roughly 50 houses of worship a total of $10 million over four years.
Now, with additional funding from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. totaling almost $15 million, the National Fund is poised to continue providing grants to an additional 50 congregations from 2020-2023, and to expand its training and resources to impact more congregations than ever before. Additional support in 2019-20 has been provided by the Gerry Charitable Trust.