National Coal Heritage Area Partnership Grants Available

The National Coal Heritage Area (NCHA) is one of only 48 nationally designated heritage areas in the entire United States.  The mission of the National Coal Heritage Area is to preserve, protect, and interpret lands, structures, and communities associated with the coal mining heritage of southern West Virginia. The NCHA encompasses 12 counties in southern West Virginia: Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Logan,McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne, Lincoln and Wyoming and the Paint Creek and Cabin Creek watersheds in Kanawha County.   For more information on NCHA or the grant requirements, contact

The NCHA has released information on available grants that must meet the following criteria:

Interpretive Themes

• The Business of Coal Mining: Includes early prospectors, coke processing, transportation of coal, uses, mining companies, company records, land speculation, early coalfield development, recruiting laborers, impact on industrialization of country

• Working in Coal: Includes life underground, training of miners, recruitment and integration of miners into the industry, early practices, mining safety, mining disasters, labor conflicts, health hazards, customs and superstitions

• The Company Town: Includes company stores, housing, mining community, role of religion, life of women, educating children, ethnic and racial diversity, food and customs, medical care, social activities and structures, accessibility of goods, folk arts and culture, isolation, community solidarity, service communities and commercial centers, community design and architecture

• Mining Technology: Includes early hand tools, hand loading, beginnings of mechanization, innovations and inventions, advances in underground technology, modern mining practices

• Crisis and Renewal: Includes declines in the industry, loss of jobs, migration from the coalfields, deindustrialization, boom and bust cycles, affect on company towns

Eligible Organizations

Organizations eligible for grant awards are legally established non-profit organizations and institutions (recognized by the IRS), and public and governmental organizations including county and municipal governments, state agencies, economic development authorities, and educational institutions, including public and private not-for-profit schools. Projects must be implemented within the National Coal Heritage Area.

Grant Range

Projects will range in costs from $2,000 to $100,000. Applicant organizations must provide 50% of the project cost and may request grants ranging from $1,000 to $50,000 with the remainder provided in documented matching funds.

Submission of Grant Applications

Completed grant applications must be received in the office of the National Coal Heritage Area Authority by 5:00 PM, May 15, 2014. Applications may be mailed to the Authority at National Coal Heritage Area Authority, PO Box 15, Oak Hill, WV 25901 or hand delivered to the Authority office at 100 Kelly Avenue in Oak Hill. Faxed or emailed applications will not be accepted. Two complete copies of the application, with a cover letter signed by the Executive Director or an officer of the corporation indicating institutional support for the project, are required. Please secure applications with a clip and do not staple or bind in any manner.

Eligible Categories

Interpretation and Heritage Programming: (grant awards range from $1,000 – $25,000) Projects must create or further develop interpretive opportunities related to coal heritage within the National Coal Heritage Area incorporating at least one of the interpretive themes. Examples of eligible project are interpretive brochures and guides, performances and performance spaces, interpretive exhibits, creation of public art exhibits and development of interpretive signs and brochures for walking/biking trails. Can include community or school based heritage education projects. Designs for printed materials, signage design and interpretive plans must be approved by the National Coal Heritage Area Authority before printing or fabrication of signs begins. Exterior interpretive signage must use the graphic design template currently in use by the National Coal Heritage Area. Historical markers will be allowed under this category, but must be a part of the Division of Culture and History’s historical marker program and must include adequate space for a minimum of two vehicles to safely pull off the road.

Historic Preservation and Resource Stewardship: (grant awards range from $1,000 -$50,000) Projects in this category must further the preservation, protection, and/or restoration of historic properties, landscapes, and cultural resources within the National Coal Heritage Area. All structures must be listed on the National Register of Historic Places or determined as eligible for listing by the State Historic Preservation Office. Preservation and restoration of historic structures must adhere to the Secretary of the Interior’s “Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties.” All preservation projects are subject to approval of the WV State Historic Preservation Office and may not proceed until written notice from SHPO is received. Examples of eligible projects are development of a historic preservation master plan for an existing National Register district or structure, structural analysis for the purpose of stabilizing an eligible structure, and interior and exterior rehabilitation.

Archives and Historical Record Collection: (grant awards range from $1,000 – $25,000) Grants within this category will serve to increase the public’s access to historical records and documents or to preserve paper-based archival documents. Examples of possible projects include collecting and cataloguing archival documents to be made available to the public and creation of systems to allow on-line access to document images. All work done under this category must focus on improving the public’s access to archival information, but may not include ongoing operational expenses of operating an archival facility. A catalogue of material collected and archived under this grant category must be published and made available to the public either on-line or in print and a copy provided to the National Coal Heritage Area Authority.

Greenways, Public Parks, and Non-motorized Trails: (grant awards range from $1,000 – $25,000) Grants within this category must focus on creating outdoor interpretive spaces, be open to the general public, and be generally accessible to the traveling public. Example of projects could include a trailhead facility that relates the coal heritage of the area, interpretive trails that pass across mining lands or through company towns with accompanying interpretive materials, roadside pull-offs featuring interpretive signage and/or historical markers, gateways to coal communities, and non-motorized trails that connect historic resources. Design plans and feasibility studies for these types of projects are also considered to be eligible. In general playgrounds and recreational facilities will not be eligible for funding, unless they contain an interpretive element. Plans for maintenance of the site must be clearly defined with a responsible entity identified. All design plans for approved projects must be submitted to the National Coal Heritage Area Authority for approval before actual construction begins.

Educational Activities and Events: (grant awards range from $500 – $10,000) Grants within this category will focus on providing education opportunities within the community or schools. Educational activities should focus on preserving and sharing the history of the region with children, young adults or community members or involving those groups in collecting and preserving history. Eligible activities include: Field trips when combined with other educational activities, art projects that explore the history and culture of coal and coal communities, including drama, literature, photography, visual arts, music, dance, and public art projects, special speakers or presentations when combined with other educational activities, historical research and documentation including oral and family histories and digital stories created by students and community members, and workshops or presentations designed to assist communities in preserving and interpreting their history.


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