Delaware Preservation Fund

Small Grants Program

Over 180 small grants have been awarded throughout the State since the Fund was established. Most grants awarded will be for a maximum of $1,000. In exceptional cases amounts up to $4,000 have been granted.

Mini-grants are awarded by the Fund every January. Applications may be lodged at any time but the closing date for applications is Friday, December 18, at 5:00 p.m. An application received after the closing date may still be considered. On-time applications, however, will be given preference, all other things being equal. The application can be downloaded in Word document format or in an Adobe PDF format.

Application forms must be accompanied by a covering letter, and non-returnable photographs. All applications and supporting documentation should be addressed to:
Delaware Preservation Fund, Inc.
PO Box 1008
Bear, DE 19701

Applicants will be notified of the outcome in February. Work covered by grants awarded by the Fund must be completed within twelve months.

 If you have any questions, please contact Vince Murphy at, or call him at 443-504-2049.

Who may apply  The program is especially directed to those who would not normally qualify for other forms of financial assistance. Corporations, partnerships, individuals, non-profit and religious organizations, and governmental entities within Delaware are eligible to receive grants.

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Eligibilty Criteria  Projects are selected for their ability to make a big difference for the small investment offered. The Fund wants to see its money make a significant difference on its own. Generally the total cost of the project, or the component, should not exceed $10,000. For larger projects the value of the grant would be too diluted.

The Fund may award one or two grants each year for up to $4,000. In these exceptional cases the Board must be satisfied the item is of major significance, the item will be in danger if the work is not carried out, the likely benefits well exceed the anticipated costs, and/or the work is unlikely to take place without the Fund’s assistance.

The following criteria are applied in the assessment of applications. Considerations are not limited to these criteria, and not all criteria need to be met. The Board will weigh up the various factors applying to each individual case and all decisions are at its absolute discretion.

  • Availability of funds
  • The relative historic significance of the property
  • The degree to which the resource is otherwise threatened with loss, compromise or significant deterioration
  • The geographical distribution of applications across the State
  • The extent of benefit to the surrounding neighborhood
  • Whether or not the grant will be supplemented with other funding, including the applicant’s own resources
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Certain categories of work are precluded because they fall outside the concept of preservation, as defined by the Secretary of the Interior’s standards. These include reconstruction of the majority of an historic structure, the making of a new building to look old, partial demolition, facade retention only, and the moving of historic structures from their historical location.

Limitations  A number of limitations have been adopted over the years to ensure funds are distributed fairly from year to year.

A property that has previously received a grant is not eligible for consideration for another grant until three years from the date of issue. This does not prevent a successful applicant in one year, applying for a different property in following years. Preference however, will always be given to first time applicants.

The Fund strives to disperse grant money evenly throughout the State of Delaware. An application of otherwise lesser merit may be given preference if it comes from a location that is under-represented in applications for that particular year.

A grant can be awarded even if the work has already been done, at the time the application comes up for consideration. So long as the work is done within the preceding twelve months, reimbursement can be made if documentation is in order. Applicants are encouraged to get work done as soon as possible, rather than put off important preventative or remedial work. Grants however will not be awarded for projects completed in a previous calendar year, and photographs must be provided showing the “before” situation.

Conditions  All grants are subject to conditions which applicants must agree to in accepting the grant. Most of these are detailed on the application form.

Grants are for a twelve-month period but may be extended for a further twelve months, if good cause is shown. A grant will automatically lapse if not extended, and an extended grant will automatically lapse after two years. No further extension is possible, as this would unfairly tie up money that could have been used on another project.

No grant money is paid out until work is completed. Grant recipients are reimbursed for actual money spent. Proof of expenditure must be submitted, together with photographs of the finished work and a brief description. The Fund must be satisfied that the work meets the Secretary of the Interior’s standards, and any local code requirements.

Grant money is not automatically transferable. If the ownership of a property changes, the new owner must apply to have the grant transferred to their name.

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