Keystone Historic Preservation Planning Grants
As established under the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, funding under the Keystone Historic Preservation Planning Grant program is available to nonprofit organizations and local governments for the planning and development for publicly accessible historic resources listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
The purpose of the grant is to support projects that identify, preserve, promote and protect historic and archaeological resources of Pennsylvania for both the benefit of the public and the revitalization of communities. These guidelines address only historic preservation projects under the planning category. Please review the separate guidelines for the Keystone Historic Preservation Construction Grants for information pertaining to the bricks and mortar program.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission also annually uses a portion of the realty transfer tax revenue to rehabilitate and maintain Commonwealth-owned historic sites and museums.
Guidelines for Applicants
The basic guidelines and general conditions for the Planning Grant program are:
- Competitive application process based on publicly available evaluation criteria
- All applications must be prepared on DCED's Electronic Single Application for Assistance.
- Eligible applicants are limited to non-profit organizations and local governments
- Eligible applicants may apply for and receive either one construction-related OR planning-related grant (not both)
- Historic resource must be located in Pennsylvania and documented as being listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
- Minimum Award $5,000
- Maximum Award $25,000
- Funding requests require a 50/50 CASH match
- Funding is available in the categories of:
- Cultural Resource Surveys
- National Register Nominations
- Planning and Development Assistance
- Projects must meet goals and objectives of Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Plan
- Grant supported project expenditures cannot begin until the successful applicant has received a fully executed Grant Agreement
- Project related expenses are reimbursable; successful applicants need to maintain an adequate CASH match to ensure completion of their project during the grant period.
For more information about the Keystone Grant Program, please view these webinars on PHMC's YouTube channel:
Application Deadline - March 1, 2023
All applications must be completed by March 1, 2023 on DCED's Electronic Single Application for Assistance (https://www.esa.dced.state.pa.us).
For additional assistance with the Electronic Single Application for Assistance system, please contact DCED's Customer Service Department at (866) 466-3972, email@example.com, or https://dced/pa/gov/contact-us/.
Applicants are no longer required to mail a hard copy of the application and supporting documents to the PHMC.
If the applicant is selected funding, their project period will extend from the date of execution of the grant agreement, approximately October 1, 2023 to September 30, 2025. No work completed prior to the execution of the grant agreement will be eligible for reimbursement.
Levels of Funding
Requests for funding to the Historic Preservation Planning Grants may range from $5,000 (for $10,000 projects) to $25,000 (for projects of $50,000 and over) and require a 50/50 CASH match. The Commission may, at its discretion, consider applications for grants under $5,000 and may approve partial funding for larger requests. The
Commission may also, at its discretion, direct additional funding, if available,
to current grantees to prepare documentation in emergency situations without
exceeding the program’s maximum level of funding.
Grants require a 50/50 CASH match in funds. Sources of the CASH match may include direct organizational funds or grant awards from private foundations, federal programs, or other state agencies. Salaries or wages paid to employees of the applicant are not considered to be cash contributions and cannot be included as matching funds! Although the cash match need not be secured when the application is made, evidence that the organization or municipality already has their match will be considered positively in the evaluation process. Applications that already have a full or partial cash match show an investment on behalf of the organization and demonstrate institutional capacity for the successful completion of the project within the grant period. In-kind contributions may not be used to satisfy the matching requirement.
Maximum Number of Awards
Eligible applicants may apply for only a Keystone Historic Preservation Planning Grant OR a Keystone Historic Preservation Construction Grant, not both. Please note that the application due dates for both applications are March 1, 2023. Applicants meeting the relevant eligibility requirements may also apply for support through the Certified Local Government Grant Program.
Availability of Funds
Grant awards are subject to the annual availability of funds from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Funding is based on the state fiscal year, July through June.
Who May Apply
The following are the types of organizations that are eligible to apply. Please check with the grant manager to confirm organizational eligibility.
- Certified Local Governments*
- Colleges and Universities
- Historic Preservation Organizations
- Historical Societies
- Local Governments
- Religious Institutions
- Other historical organizations
- Museums and historic sites that are owned by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission but operated by independent nonprofit organizations
- Multipurpose Organizations. Individual subunits (e.g. Moravian Pottery and Tile Works) within multipurpose government (e.g. County of Bucks) or tax-exempt organizations may apply for grants if they function as a discrete unit within the parent organization. A subunit that is part of a larger organization will be deemed eligible if:
- The unit has administrative autonomy for its operations;
- The unit has a fully segregated and itemized operating budget within that of the parent organization;
- The unit is able to separately and distinctly fulfill all eligibility and application requirements as defined in these guidelines.
More than one qualified subunit within a multipurpose organization may apply for funding during the same grant cycle.
* Certified Local Governments and Applicants located within a CLG receive special consideration as part of the evaluation process. Applicants must identify the CLG and include a letter of support from their official CLG contact person or local elected official.
Who May Not Apply
Organizations and others that are not eligible to apply include:
- Museums and historic sites operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission;
- Associate groups at museums and historic sites operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission;
- Management groups at museums and historic sites owned by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission;
- Museums and historic sites operated by state or federal government agencies;
- Associate groups at museums operated by state or federal government agencies;
- For-profit organizations or corporations;
- State government;
- Federal government; and
Additional Eligibility Requirements
To apply for a Keystone Historic Preservation Planning Grant, an organization must meet the following requirements:
- Must be located in Pennsylvania;
- Must have tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service or be an entity of local government;
- Must be incorporated and serving the public for at least five (5) consecutive years prior to the submission of the grant application; and,
- Must be registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State: Bureau of Charitable Organizations, as required. Information may be obtained by writing Bureau of Charitable Organizations, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of State, P.O. Box 8723, Harrisburg, PA 17105 or by calling (800) 732-0999.
The property, building, or community for which funds are requested must meet the following requirements;
- Must be located in Pennsylvania
- Must be documented as being listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places; either individually or as a contributing property in a National Register Historic District (Applications that do not include appropriate documentation from the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office will not be eligible for funding).
There are a number of general conditions for Keystone Historic Preservation Planning Grants.
- All grant assisted architectural plans or specifications for future construction work must meet the Secretary of the Interior's "Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties".
- Work cannot begin until the successful applicant has received a copy of a fully executed Grant Agreement.
Categories of Support
The following categories of support are broadly defined and include examples of the kinds of projects that may be considered for funding. The examples are by no means a complete list of eligible projects. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their project and ideas with the grant manager or their regional Community Preservation Coordinator.
Cultural Resource Surveys
Grant assistance is available for conducting cultural resource surveys. (Grants may not be used to prepare Historic Resource Survey Forms for determinations of eligibility to the National Register.) Surveys may be organized by municipal or county limits, by drainage area or physiographic zone (for archaeological surveys), by historic theme, or by property or site types. Projects must be conducted in accordance with the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office's standards, guidelines and documentation requirements. Contact the grant manager or regional Community Preservation Coordinator for advice on planning your survey. Consultants will be required to attend a special training session in Harrisburg, and this cost should be factored into the proposal. Examples of projects include:
- Historic sites surveys;
- Architectural surveys;
- Archaeological surveys; and
- Thematic surveys.
National Register Nominations
Grant assistance is available for preparing nominations to the National Register of Historic Places for resources already determined eligible for listing by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. (Grants may not be used to prepare Historic Resource Survey Forms to establish eligibility) Nominations must be prepared in accordance with the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office's standards, guidelines and documentation requirements. Contact the grant manager for advice on planning your project. Preparers will be required to attend a special training session in Harrisburg, and this cost should be factored into the proposal. Examples of projects include:
- Nominations for historic districts, including rural historic districts;
- Multiple property nominations; and
- Nominations for archaeological sites.
Although nominations for individual properties will be accepted, evaluation for the proposal will be based on preservation goals rather than recognition that the Register may provide and will be weighted less than nominations for historic districts or multiple resources during the selection process. Competitive applicants in this category must demonstrate that listing will advance a preservation plan for the resource and is a stepping stone to a local historic district or similar goal.
Planning and Project Development Assistance
Grant assistance is available for predevelopment studies and planning for buildings or resources that are listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, either individually or as a contributing property in a National Register Historic District. Community, municipal or regional preservation plans must be prepared in accordance with the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office's Guidance for Historic Preservation Planning. Examples of projects include:
- Preparation of historic preservation plans for a municipality or county or region;
- Historic structure reports;
- Design guidelines;
- Feasibility studies;
- Preparation of preservation plans for the treatment of archaeological sites;
- Preparation of plans for adaptive use of historic properties; and
- Preparation of plans that assist communities in the preservation and revitalization of historic resources including developing a Historic Architectural Review Board and/or a Certified Local Government.
Grant assistance is available to support activities that promote or enhance the understanding of Pennsylvania's prehistoric or historic archaeological resources. Archaeological projects can take the form of surveys, excavations, artifact analyses and various types of syntheses. Activities may not be associated with state or federal compliance projects; projects should meet the philosophy of the Guidelines for Archaeological Investigations in Pennsylvania (PDF) and the other PHMC policies on archaeological investigations and resources. Examples of projects in addition to surveys, national register nominations and preservation plans include:
- Development of regional site sensitivity models;
- Preparation of regional and/or temporal syntheses;
- Research and artifact analysis; and
- Problem-oriented excavation projects.
Keystone Historic Preservation Keystone Historic Preservation Planning Grants may not be used to fund the following:
- Mitigation activities performed as a condition or precondition for obtaining a state or federal permit or license;
- Requests for determination of eligibility for the National Register;
- General operating support;
- Overhead or indirect costs for operation of organization;
- Capital improvement projects, including "bricks and mortar" rehabilitation, restoration or preservation of historic buildings (eligible activity under the Keystone Historic Preservation Construction Grant Program);
- Existing part-time or full-time staff positions (this includes hiring part-time staff during their nonworking hours);
- Projects that have been initiated prior to the date of the award;
- Projects that serve a religious purpose or promote religious dogma;
- Forums, conferences, symposia, lectures, oral histories and exhibitions not available to the public or held outside of Pennsylvania;
- Prizes and awards;
- Expenses for entertainment, including food and beverage; and
- Lobbying-related expenses.
Grant Period and Implementation Timetable
Peer Review Panels
PHMC Approves Panel Recommendations
Award/Rejection Letters and Grant Agreements Mailed to Applicants
Project Start Date/Fully Executed Grant Agreement
January 1, 2024
Quarterly report due
April 1, 2024
Quarterly report due
July 1, 2024
Quarterly report due
October 1, 2024
Quarterly report due
January 1, 2025
Quarterly report due
April 1, 2025
Quarterly report due
July 1, 2025
Quarterly report due
September 30, 2025
Project End Date/Final Reports Due
Successful applicants must complete their projects within a twenty-four (24) month period. Applicants are required to submit both Quarterly and Final Reports as well as appropriate work products. Projects will generally not be extended beyond the twenty-four (24) month implementation period. There are a few situations in which the grantee may petition the Commission for additional time to complete the project.
For program information, please contact Karen Arnold, program manager or call (717) 783-9927.
Download the Keystone Planning Grants fact sheet.