Delaware Preservation Fund

Small Grants Program Guidelines

Applications are now open for the 2024 grants round. The closing date for applications is Friday, February 9, 2024.  The completed form, along with supporting materials, should be emailed to

Since its establishment in 2000, the Delaware Preservation Fund has awarded more than 300 small grants throughout Delaware. The program is especially directed toward applicants 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 all eligible to receive grants.

The Fund’s grants have historically targeted projects of a “bricks and mortar” nature. Under new guidelines, the DPF is also accepting applications for non-capital projects, including restoration planning projects, architectural/engineering studies, and contracting professional consultants to prepare National Register or local district nominations.

If you have any questions after reading the guidelines below, please contact the Delaware Preservation Fund’s program managers by email to or phone (302) 831-8097.

Available funding 

Most grants typically range between $2,000 to $5,000.  The maximum grant is $10,000.  For grant requests more than $5,000, the DPF must be satisfied the proposal and resource is of major significance; that the resource will be at serious risk if the work is not carried out; that the likely benefits well exceed the anticipated costs; and/or that the work is unlikely to take place without the Fund’s assistance. Because funds are limited, projects are selected for their ability to make a significant difference for the small investment offered. As a rule, the DPF requires a minimum 50% match from the applicant. In-kind contributions may be credited towards the match. 


Historic resources located in Delaware are eligible for a grant if they are either:

  • on or determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places
  • a contributing element to a National Register Historic District, or
  • determined by a county or local government to be locally significant

Applications for the following project types will be accepted:

  • Capital projects involving restoration of historic buildings and built elements, as well as historic objects such as ships and statuary.
  • Restoration planning, architectural/engineering studies (maximum grant $10,000, or 50% of project cost, whichever is less). 
  • Documentation projects:
  • Preparation of new, individual nominations for listing on the National Register (maximum grant $5,000, or 50% of project cost, whichever is less). 
  • Preparation of nominations for new or amended National Register historic districts (maximum grant $10,000, or 50% of project cost, whichever is less). Historic district amendments would include boundary expansions and the addition of resources through a particular period of significance, as well as documentation of a more robust nature. 
  • Proposals for inclusion within a new or expanded local historic district (maximum grant of $5,000, or 50% of project cost, whichever is less).
  • Archaeological documentation (maximum grant $10,000, or 50% of project cost, whichever is less). 
  • Plaques and signage if they are of an interpretive nature. 

Ineligible Proposals:

Certain categories of work are precluded because they fall outside the concept of preservation, as defined by the Secretary of the Interior’s standards, including reconstruction of the majority of an historic structure, a new building recreated to look historic, partial demolition and facade retention only. The moving of historic structures from their historic location is also precluded by these standards, but there may be circumstances where allowances may be made. 

The following specific items are ineligible for grant funding:

  • Construction of new buildings or additions 
  • Acquisition of properties
  • Acquisition of collections 
  • Conservation or display of collections 
  • Lobbying or advocacy activities 
  • Direct or indirect administrative costs 

Application requirements

The application must include: 

  • A detailed project description, including a scope of work
  • A qualified contractor proposal with estimates, broken down as needed
  • An outline as to how the relevant Secretary of the Interior Standards will be met
  • Good quality photos of the building/resource including adequate photos of the area requiring attention
  • Eligibility documentation
  • For National Register listed historic properties, please provide a copy of the listing
  • For locally designated resources, provide a copy of local government documentation
  • For resources not listed on the National Register or locally, submit a letter of support or determination of eligibility letter from a qualified architectural historian or archaeologist, the State Historic Preservation Office, a local preservation planner (city, town or county), or the University of Delaware Center for Historic Architecture and Design, attesting to the eligibility of the resource.

Assessment criteria

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 these factors regarding each individual case. All decisions are at its absolute discretion. 

  • Availability of funds
  • The relative historic significance of the resource
  • The degree to which the resource is threatened with loss, compromise, or deterioration
  • The geographical distribution of applications across the State
  • The extent of benefit to the surrounding neighborhood or community
  • The extent of matching funds including the applicant’s own resources.

Preference will always be given to first-time applicants. The DPF will consider any previous grant(s) awarded to the applicant, what the grant was for, and how long ago it was awarded. 

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 underrepresented in applications for that particular year.

A grant may be awarded for work already completed within the previous twelve months as applicants are encouraged to expedite urgent work, rather than delay important preventative or remedial work. Photographs must be provided showing both the “before” and “after” conditions.


All grants are subject to conditions, which applicants must agree to prior to accepting the grant funds.

Any construction work funded, all or in part with DPF funds, must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties. Copies of the Standards are available on the National Park Service website.

Grants are issued in the form of reimbursements once work is completed, and after proof of expenditure is submitted to the DPF, together with photographs of the finished work and a brief written report. The Fund must be satisfied that the work meets the Secretary of the Interior’s standards, and all local government requirements. 

If awarded a grant from the Delaware Preservation Fund, the applicant agrees to complete the project within a year of grant notification. Grants allow a twelve-month period for work to be completed, but may be extended for an additional twelve months if good cause is shown.  A grant will automatically lapse if not extended, and an extended grant will automatically expire after two years with no further extension possible.

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.

Preservation Delaware, Inc (PDI) and the Delaware Preservation Fund, Inc (DPF) reserve the right to publicize the names and locations of the grant recipients, as well as publicize photographs of the properties where work has been funded.

All grant application properties are subject to scheduled visits by employees or Board members of PDI or DPF.

Applications are due Friday, February 9, 2024. Completed forms with supporting photos and materials should be emailed to

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