Sacred Sites Program

Anonymous Donation Extends Sacred Sites Challenge Grant Program

Anonymous Donation Extends Sacred Sites Challenge Grant Program
Anonymous Donation Extends Sacred Sites Challenge Grant Program

December 2014

The Conservancy will continue major Sacred Sites challenge grants for the next five years, thanks to a $1.1 million gift from an anonymous donor. The grants, which range from $25,000 to $75,000 assist major restoration work at religious institutions.

The welcome gift allows challenge grants totaling $200,000 per year through 2019. The remaining $100,000 will be used for consulting grants for architectural and engineering services that define restoration needs and costs.

The late Robert W. Wilson had funded major challenge grants from 2000 through the end of 2014. Following Mr. Wilson’s death, we feared that we wouldn’t be able to identify another funding source for these larger grants.

“It is hard to convey how grateful we are for this extraordinary gift,” said Conservancy President Peg Breen. “We are thankful that this donor recognizes how important religious buildings are to their congregations and communities, often providing crucial social service and cultural programs to the broader public.”

Breen added that the gift is also a tribute to the dedication and expertise of the Sacred Sites staff —Director Ann Friedman and Colleen Heemeyer. They visit grant applicants around the State and often establish long term relationships with congregations.

The 119 Wilson challenge grants pledged over 15 years totaled $3.6 million, and helped leverage projects totaling $61 million.

Sacred Sites is one of the few programs in the country offering financial and technical help to landmark religious institutions. Since its founding, we have given more than $8.7 million in grants to 731 religious institutions of all denominations. The program will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2016.