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Community Grants Program

Grants to Northeast Mississippi Nonprofits, Schools,
and Tribes for Heritage and Culture Projects

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Mississippi Hills Heritage Area Alliance (MHHAA)

Deadline Date:

02/28/18 5:00 PM CT Email Receipt; Education Grant Applications are accepted year-round


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Grants to Northeast Mississippi nonprofit organizations, tribes, school groups, museums, attractions, and events to promote culture and heritage within the funding source’s region. Projects may involve education and interpretation, heritage and cultural tourism, heritage resources enhancement and conservation, and partnership development. Funding is also available for school field trips.

About the Mississippi Hills Natural Heritage Area:

The Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area (MHNHA) was designated by Congress in 2009 in recognition of the remarkable cultural and heritage resources within this region.

It covers 19 full counties and portions of 11 others in Northeast Mississippi. Boundaries of the heritage area were established by Federal law and are the Tennessee state line to the north, Alabama state line to the east, Interstate Highway 55 to the west and Mississippi state highway 14 to the south.

The Mississippi Hills Heritage Area Alliance (MHHAA), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was named by Congress as the local coordinating entity. Its mission is to preserve, enhance, interpret and promote the cultural and heritage assets of the region in a manner that enhances exposure, education and economic growth. The MHNHA Management Plan was approved in 2014 and provides a framework for achieving this mission. All grant applicants should read the Management Plan prior to applying for an Alliance grant.

Goals of the Grant Program:

MHHAA offers grants for innovative projects that will help accomplish the goals and objectives defined in the Management Plan. The program is designed to provide strategic investments in heritage sites, events, programs and other projects of cultural, educational and recreational value within the boundaries of the MHNHA.

Funded Projects:

MHHAA funds projects that contribute to the mission of preserving, enhancing, interpreting and promoting the cultural and heritage resources within the Mississippi Hills.

Eligible Projects:

To be eligible for funding, projects must address one or more of the goals listed below. Projects that address more than one goal will be given higher consideration. Projects that incorporate one or more primary interpretive themes – African American heritage, Civil War, Native American heritage and Music and Literature – are highly encouraged.

Education and Interpretation:
-Connect heritage sites/attractions through use of interpretive themes/strategies.
-Lift public awareness about Hills heritage through education and research.

Cultural and Heritage Tourism:
-Develop physical or programmatic linkages between destinations to enhance visitor experience.
-Promote greater brand awareness through comprehensive marketing and public-relations programs using both traditional and new media.
-Use a consistent visual identity and brand in all collateral materials.
-Encourage marketing and public relations collaborations between MHNHA and cultural and heritage assets in the region, as well as partnerships between individual sites/resources.

Heritage Resource Conservation and Enhancement:
-Conduct research to facilitate the identification, preservation and recognition/ promotion of significant heritage sites and attractions within MHNHA.
-Conserve, preserve and enhance the cultural and heritage assets of MHNHA.
-Encourage sensitive resource development to protect cultural and heritage assets and natural landscapes and viewsheds.

Partnership Development:
-Promote entrepreneurial activity and business development related to MHNHA cultural and heritage assets and resources.
-Utilize cultural and heritage assets to foster sustainable economic activity.
-Provide planning and technical assistance to asset managers and operators.

Grant Categories:

Education Grants:
-Open to all schools districts, school support groups and nonprofit cultural/heritage attractions within the Mississippi Hills NHA.
-Multiple trips may be requested on the same applications.
-Funds must be used for educational field trip transportation and interpretation costs only.

Flash Grants:
-Open to all qualified applicants within the Mississippi Hills NHA.

Small Grants:
-Open to all qualified applicants within the Mississippi Hills NHA.

Large Grants:
-Open to all qualified dues paying members in good standing.

Eligible, Non-Eligible Costs and Disbursement Schedule:

Eligible project costs include but are not limited to items such as site improvements, technical assistance, programs, events, presentations, publications, collateral materials, research, inventory and interpretation. Grant funds may be used to cover legitimate project costs that are necessary and reasonable for the accomplishment of project objectives. Such costs may include labor, services, materials, equipment rental, supplies and travel.

The five criteria for ranking and priority are:
-Project fits the MHNHA mission and addresses an appropriate theme.
-Project utilizes community resources in a unique or innovative manner.
-Project is realistic with a clearly-stated process and expected outcome.
-Project shows collaborative efforts with multiple partners.
-Project budget satisfactorily supports the stated objectives.

Primary Interpretive Themes:

Interpretation of the region's stories and resources is a key element of the federal Management Plan which guides the development of our program. While the plan addresses a range of issues, it specifies four dominant themes to be used to inform Mississippi citizens as well as out-of-state visitors about the culture and heritage of the Hills. Applicants should fully familiarize themselves with these interpretive themes -- African American heritage, Civil War, Native American heritage and Music and Literature -- and related subthemes.

Some things to keep in mind when developing your grant application:
-The grant request is eligible for funding.
-Matching funds are certified to be in place.
-Project ideally demonstrates collaboration between multiple partners.
-Project respects both the capacity and authenticity of the resource.
-Efforts exhibit a high degree of quality in all planning and design aspects.
-Narrative defines clear measures to manage/sustain project after grant completion.
-Project time-line and outcomes are well-defined and realistic.
-Application includes an evaluation process to measure results of project goals.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 177987

Estimated Size of Grant:

Education Grants: Requests of up to $1,000 per trip will be considered.
Flash Grants: Requests of $1,000 - $2,500 will be considered.
Small Grants: Requests of $2,500 - $5,000 will be considered.
Large Grants: Requests for $5,000 - $20,000 will be considered.

Term of Contract:

Education Grant funds must be used within a year of the award.
Flash Grant funds must be used within one year of the award.
Small Grant projects must be completed within one year of the award.
Large Grant projects or project phases must be completed within two years of the award.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Within MHNHA, the grant program is open to nonprofit organizations, school groups, attractions, museums, partnerships, federally-recognized Indian tribes, cultural and heritage events, programs, presentations and all MHHAA dues paying members in good standing. All applicants must demonstrate sufficient expertise to manage their project to completion.

Please Note: Education, Flash and Small grants are available to any qualified applicant while Large grants are reserved for dues paying members in good standing.

Non-Eligible project costs include but are not limited to items such as food, most advertising, overhead, salaries, general administrative expense, routine repairs, most maintenance and contingency or set-aside funds. Grant funds may not be used to acquire real property or any interest in real property. Please contact staff if you have any questions regarding eligible and non-eligible project costs.

Pre-Application Information:

All MHHAA grants require a 50-50 match. Matching may consist of cash only or a combination of cash and in-kind services such as materials or volunteer hours. How you propose to provide the required match must be detailed in the project budget. A priority will be given to grantee's who exceed their required match or use all cash as a match.

Your matching funds must come from non-federal sources. If you are using a state grant for the required 50% match make sure and verify that the state funding you receive is not from federal funds, also. For example, if you have a grant from an organization which utilizes federal funds, you could not use their federal money to match MHHAA grants.

In-kind matches must be necessary and directly attributable to the project. Personnel time for employees, volunteers, service providers and consultants as well as tangible contributions of services, materials, supplies and products must be documented. All documentation must be submitted to MHHAA prior to final disbursement of grant funding.

Applications for the FY18 Community Grants Program (Flash, Small, and Large Grants) will be accepted January 3 - February 28, 2018.

Submit a completed application form via email by 5:00 PM Central Time on the stated due date. Mailed or special handling applications must be received by the same stated deadline also.

Please note that Education Grant applications are accepted year-round; allow 6 weeks for a decision.

Disbursement of the approved grant award will be made upon receipt of grantee's project completion form, documentation of all paid expenses and certification of all matching contributions.

Below is a brief time line of the FY18 Community Grants Program application process:
-February 28, 2018: All grant applications due in to MHHAA.
-February/March 2018: Grants Committee review and ranking.
-March 20, 2018: Successful applicants announced.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Mississippi Hills Heritage Area Alliance
Grants Administrator
Renasant Center for Ideas, Suite 114
398 East Main Street
Tupelo, MS 38804

(662) 269-2580

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Mississippi: Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area