Network to Freedom Grant Program

White text on a black background reads "Grant Program" at the top center of the graphic. Text reads "Application Due May 14, 2021." The Network to Freedom and ASALH logos are centered. All text and images within a gold border.
Grant Application Now Available, Due May 14, 2021

NPS Photo

The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program is pleased to announce its 2021 Grant Program. There will be $180,000 in grant funds available this year.

In collaboration with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the Network to Freedom is offering competitive grants ranging between $1,000 and $10,000. Funds can be used for preservation and restoration of buildings associated with the Underground Railroad, for interpretation of Underground Railroad history, and for historical research related to Network to Freedom listings. Only Network to Freedom sites, programs, and facilities are eligible to apply. This year, the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program is focusing its efforts to highlight ways in which the Underground Railroad was one part of a larger movement for social justice, which continues in the present. For this grant round, preference will be given to projects that highlight the connections between Underground Railroad activism and struggles for access to education, suffrage, and/or public accommodations. As always, preference will also be given to those listings that have not previously received Network to Freedom grants. Projects that contribute non-federal matching funds will also be given preference.

The grant application and instructions, available as of April 5, 2021, can be found on ASALH's website (linked here). The applications are due May 14, 2021.

All completed applications should be sent electronically to network_to_freedom@nps.gov with subject line "2021 NTF Grant_[INSERT NTF LISTING NAME]."

If you have any questions, please email us at network_to_freedom@nps.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions

The grant application and instructions, made available April 5, 2021, can be found on ASALH's website (linked here). The applications are due May 14, 2021.
All completed applications should be sent electronically to network_to_freedom@nps.gov with subject line "2021 NTF Grant_[INSERT NTF LISTING NAME]."
Yes – only Network to Freedom Members are eligible to apply for grant funding.

The National Park Service supports projects that achieve the goals of preservation, interpretation, and education of Underground Railroad history. Specifically, the projects should support or enhance the Underground Railroad associations for which site, program, or facility was listed in the Network to Freedom. Examples of projects that support these objectives include but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Markers or signs identifying the site as being in the Network to Freedom

  • Interpretive markers, brochures, exhibits, websites;

  • Historical research in support of interpretation or publications;

  • Oral history and documenting oral traditions;

  • Educational curricula and lesson plans;

  • Cultural Resource surveys;

  • Archeological surveys;

  • Preservation and restoration of historic buildings, structures, landscapes;

  • Projects to enhance accessibility of sites and programs (including installation of ramps or lifts)

  • National Register documentation and nominations;

  • Workshops and public educational programs;

  • Technical assistance in associated site and/or landscape identification; and

  • Preservation and stabilization of cultural artifacts, collections, and documents.

A committee of reviewers, including National Park Service Network to Freedom regional program managers, other National Park Service staff, and non-National Park Service reviewers will rank applications and make funding recommendations. The following criteria will be used to rank project applications:

  • Need for the Project

  • Work Plan and Time Line for Project Completion

  • Project Outcomes

  • Project Budget

  • Bonus: New Grant Recipients

  • Bonus: Matching Funds

  • Bonus: Projects which highlight the connections between Underground Railroad activism and struggles for access to education, suffrage, and/or public accommodations

If the site/program/facility is accepted to the Network to Freedom, you can absolutely submit a grant application. We recommend you begin thinking about how you might answer the questions on the grant application form until you receive an official notice of your acceptance to the Network.
No. All grant projects must specifically address the Underground Railroad. So a project that looks at education/suffrage/public accommodations, but does not have an clear connection to the Underground Railroad, is not eligible to apply for funding.

No. The grant review process is structured to ensure fairness. When reviewing the project, each section of the application is allotted a certain number of points, and evaluators will score the grant applications for each section. If your Underground Railroad related project is also related to education/suffrage/public accommodations, your application will receive additional points that projects without a connection to education/suffrage/public accommodations will not receive.

By focusing your project on one of these areas, your project is not guaranteed funding. Your application will be reviewed with all other applications submitted, and the most competitive applications will be funded.

Last updated: April 6, 2021