2016 NCPTT Media Grant

NCPTT 2016 Media Grant Application

Update—November 3, 2015: We completed the grant application just in time to submit before the deadline! We switched from GitHub to Google Docs at the end of the process to make sure we had the formatting right for Microsoft Word (the required submission format).

We are writing a grant application and a guide to writing grant applications at the same time! Check out our blog post for why we are doing this, review our instructions for how to apply for a grant, take a look at the requirements for the NCPTT 2016 Media Grant, or read our grant application in progress.

Please share your comments on our grant application tutorial or the draft grant application with Eli Pousson. You can also creating issues in this repo or fork this repo to contribute edits directly. This grant is due on Tuesday, November 3, 2015.

Banner image - Call for Proposals 2016 Media Grants

How do you apply for a grant?

This guide assumes that you have a project first—which is a good idea. Coming up with a project just for a grant is not always a bad idea but it can cause problems—especially for small organizations.

  1. Find a grant opportunity
  2. Read the description or announcement of the grant opportunity. There are several questions you need to answer before continuing:
    • Is my organization eligible to apply?
    • Is my project eligible?
    • When are applications due?
    • How do I apply?
    • How are they planning to review applications?
  3. Read about the organization making the grant (optional). If you are not familiar with the grant-making organization, find and read their mission and core goals. It can sometimes be helpful to read about any listed staff members or board members to better understand what the organization does and who is helping to guide the organization’s mission.
  4. Contact a grant program administration by phone or email (optional but recommended). If you are still unsure if your project is suited to this grant opportunity, call or email a grant program administrator to discuss your project and any questions you may have. Grant administrators want to help you shape a competitive application!
  5. Re-read the announcement and any related materials.
  6. Create an outline based on the evaluation criteria for the grant narrative. Expand the outline with short descriptions or lists that explain how the proposed project meeting the requirements.
  7. Draft a project summary.
  8. Revise and expand the outline to fit within the limits on words or pages. Some online submission forms use character counts to limit the length of submissions so make sure you know how much space you are allowed to explain your project.
  9. Share your draft with a friend, colleague or partner (or more than one) to read for feedback and edits. Pay special attention to the clarity of organization, maintaining a direct connection between the narrative and the grant criteria, as well as spelling and grammar. Small mistakes (like mispelling the name of a partner organization) can undermine the credibility of an otherwise compelling proposal.
  10. Revise the narrative one last time based on the feedback you recieved.
  11. Collect any additional attachments that may be required. Typical requirements include financial statements, resumes or CVs, 501c3 certification letters, etc.
  12. Submit your grant application!

One last step: send thank-you notes to anyone who helped you with the grant application and mark your calendar for the date when you expect you might hear back.

How should we write the project abstract? Tell us about this project in 100 words or less

Here is what NCPTT says is required for the abstract:

The abstract is a summary of proposed work suitable for dissemination to the public. It is limited to 100 words in length. The project abstract will be a file attachment in the application. Please create the file in Microsoft Word or Word compatible software.

Local Preservation School: Project Abstract

The Local Preservation School is an online open educational resource (OER) designed to teach historic preservation while demonstrating the potential of open source tools and approaches for preservation practice/education. This project is an innovative model for how open source web technology (GitHub and Jekyll) can support affordable, effective and collaborative preservation education and advocacy. The media products include beginner-friendly online lessons on preservation skills and concepts; tutorials on how to use free open source tools to support preservation efforts; and customizable templates/guidelines for preservation professionals to use open educational resources to teach preservation in their own communities.

How should we write the project narrative? Tell us about this project is 10 pages or less

Here is what NCPTT says is required for the narrative description:

The proposal is a narrative description that should specifically address each of the review criteria (see Section IV). The proposal text must be no longer than 10 pages, no smaller than font size 11, and have 1-inch margins. The 10-page limit includes all text, figures, references, and resumes (Forms SF-424, SF-424A, SF- 424B, project abstract, key contacts, and the statement of indirect charges are not counted as part of the 10 page limit).

Here is how NCPTT outlines the required content for the narrative description in How to Apply Quick Guide for 2016 NCPTT Media Grants.

  • Project Title.
  • Discipline. Include archeology, architecture, engineering, collections, historic landscapes, or materials conservation
  • Project Description. Describe the project. Be sure to answer the criteria questions (1500 words):
  1. Innovation: Does the proposal offer a media product for disseminating innovative technology to the preservation community? (Weight 30%)
    • How does this product disseminate preservation technology?
    • How does the preservation community benefit from this product?
    • Why is the choice of media (publication, mobile application, video) the most appropriate way to disseminate the information or gather resource data?
    • Are there similar media products that are currently available to the public? How does the proposed media product differ?
  2. National Need: Does the proposal meet a national preservation need? (Weight 30%)
    • How does this project address a wide range of preservation needs?
    • How are the project results applicable to more than one cultural resource?
  3. Audience: Does the proposal identify the target audience and ways to reach that audience? (Weight 20%)
    • Who is the target audience for the product?
    • Provide a distribution plan to reach the target audience.
  4. Costs: Are the costs reasonable for the work to be performed? (Weight 10%)
    • How do the benefits of the project relate to the proposed budget?

Note: Pay close attention to grant review criteria! It is always good to make this very explicit—don’t assume a grant reviewer will understand why your project is a good fit for a funding opportunity? You always have to tell them.

  • Schedule. Include schedule and project tasks. (500 words).
  • Deliverables. Describe deliverables or products associated with project (500 words).
  • Qualifications. Summary of the expertise and project-related experience of the principal investigator (500 words) and of the research team (1000 words).
  • Project Income. If the project is expected to generate income, please indicate the nature and source of the income. How will these funds be used to offset costs for the project?

Local Preservation School: Project Description

Project Description


The Local Preservation School is an online open educational resource (OER) designed to teach historic preservation concepts, skills and practices. We are using open source tools (GitHub and the static site generator Jekyll) to develop and publish a collection of lessons and exercises illustrated with interactive maps, quizzes, and graphics for an audience of volunteer preservation advocates around the country. Professionals working in preservation (or related fields) can reuse/customize these same products to teach a variety of topics related to preservation in their own communities. We plan to complete much of the initial content development for the Local Preservation School prior to the proposed funding period. We are requesting funds to support the testing, refinement and broad dissemination of the Local Preservation School products as a model how open source technology and approaches can benefit historic preservation.

To illustrate the potential that open source approaches for the Local Preservation School (and other preservation projects) we have used Jekyll and GitHub Pages to publish this grant application online: localpreservation.github.io/2016-ncptt-media-grant.

Project Description Summary

  • Disseminating technology through media products: This project offers a unique model for how GitHub, Jekyll and open source web technology can facilitate affordable, effective and collaborative preservation education and advocacy. The media products created by the Local Preservation School will include beginner-friendly lessons on preservation; tutorials on how to use free, open source tools for local preservation projects; and customizable templates/guidelines that anyone can reuse or adapt to teach preservation in their own community.
  • Meeting national preservation needs: This project addresses a wide range of needs through a collaborative approach involving a network of professionals/volunteers working with a wide variety of cultural resources. These contributors will shape course content by writing lessons and exercises, and contributing material to a shared database of open resources. We also seek to make it easy to for individuals to find resources relevant for them within the course website. This requires a design that lets people customize their learning experience-connecting beginners to introductory lessons or experienced advocates to advanced material.
  • Identifying and reaching an audience: After a close review of existing educational resources for preservation, we identified volunteer advocates as the primary audience for the Local Preservation School. Two additional audiences include professionals in preservation and related fields who often work closely with local preservationists. Professionals working in historic preservation are also the key audience for the project templates and guidelines that we will develop to support the collaborative development of course content.
  • Project costs and benefits: With current funding committed through the NCSHPO (in partnership with the Cultural Resources Office of Outreach, Diversity and Inclusion, NPS), the Local Preservation School has sufficient support to complete all planned media products. The additional funding requested from NCPTT would help us improve the quality of the products through consulting services and enable us extend the project schedule into 2017 as we test, refine and disseminate the products resulting from this project.

Disseminating technology through media products

Why do open source tools matter for preservation

Using version tracking tools (like GitHub) in combination with open source values is an emerging best practice for a many organizations and disciplines. Although GitHub describes itself as a place to “share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers,” it is also an increasingly popular platform for collaboration around scientific papers, databases, maps and educational resources. In a 2015 paper, “Embracing Participatory Culture in Education,” researcher Alexey Zagalsky describes how GitHub goes beyond replacing the traditional learning management systems (e.g., Blackboard) by creating innovative opportunities for collaboration. GitHub enables a transparent process for writing and revision that explicitly encourages reuse. Educational materials easily be “forked” to modify materials for individual needs or to make improvements that can be integrated back into the original source.

One key tool for us is the Course-in-a-Box template created by Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) in 2015 to make it easier to create online courses with Jekyll. We are also using the extensive resources on open source project management published by the U.S. General Services Administration 18F program in 2014 and 2015. Given 18F’s growing success in promoting open source among federal employees, we anticipate that open resources (like the Local Preservation School) are ideal for promote collaboration between private and public sector partners across the country.

How we plan to disseminate open source tools and approaches

Our dissemination plan builds on the preexisting importance of community education within historic preservation. For 50 years or more, local and state governments, nonprofits and CRM firms have developed a variety of “Preservation 101”-style courses and workshops. Unfortunately, many such resources rely on proprietary formats (e.g. Adobe PDF, Microsoft PPT, or commercial webinar tools) that require ongoing licensing fees or have serious issues with usability and accessibility online.

In contrast, we plan to create our media products with the same free, open source tools that set the standard for modern web publishing. This will make our products easier to find and easier to use. Our strategy for dissemination of the technology (beyond the dissemination of the products) takes two forms:

  • Engaging people in the process of developing lessons for the Local Preservation School using GitHub and Jekyll
  • Engaging people with tutorials that demonstrate the potential of using a broader range of open source tools (e.g. LocalData, Omeka, EditData.org, geojson.io, Arches) for other aspects of preservation practice beyond education and publication

This project benefits the broader historic preservation community by increasing awareness and accessibility of free tools and resources. The project also creates the opportunity for preservation professionals to apply open source approaches to their own work or by joining open source projects beyond the Local Preservation School.

Meeting national preservation needs

Defining needs through a collaborative approach

Rather than limiting the course content to a single set of needs at the outset, the Local Preservation School is based on the idea that a collaborative approach to content development can provide a democratic framework for defining needs and priorities. In this way, the Local Preservation School fits within the model of a cMOOC (a Massively Open Online Course using connectivist learning theory). In comparison to better known xMOOCs (large online courses popularized by Coursera and EdX), cMOOCs reach smaller communities of learners-hundreds rather than thousands-but encourages an approach to learning that respects the ideas and resources many students already have to share. George Siemens and Stepehen Downes, pioneers of the connectivist theory, suggest the potential of “creativity, autonomy and social networked learning.” Educational researcher Jonathan Haber described this approach on his blog writing, “in a cMOOC environment the participants in the course act as both teachers and students, sharing information and engaging in a joint teaching and learning experience through intense interaction facilitated by technology.”

Design and user experience customized for individuals

All educational resources created for this project will be tagged to highlight any related regions or localities, related building/landscape types, specific audiences, or areas of thematic interest. This is necessary, in part, to support planned partnerships with preservation organizations that focus on specific preservation needs or audiences. Examples include the Rainbow Heritage Network (focused on the preservation of LGBTQ associated resources) or the Preservation Rightsizing Network (focused on preservation issues in Legacy Cities with shrinking population). Individual lessons will then be packaged and organized around specific audience needs and goals to take the form of overlapping collections, courses, or “learning pathways.” Examples of individual lessons and larger collections are listed as part of the planned deliverables.

Defining an audience and a plan to reach them

The primary target audience for the Local Preservation School are volunteer historic preservation advocates who make up a base of support for preservation nonprofits, park “friends” groups, and small historic sites around the country. With varying experience and interests, volunteers may engage with preservation as tour guides, researchers, organizers, fundraisers or preservation commissioners. A 2012 study by the National Trust for Historic Preservation identified 15 million active “local preservationists”-a much larger and more diverse audience than preservation professionals alone. Despite its size, we see this audience as critically underserved as a result of the cost and technical sophistication of most existing resources.

There are two additional target audiences for this project:

  • professionals working in historic preservation (local, state, federal government; local, statewide, and regional non-profits; and private businesses in cultural resource management, architecture and conservation)
  • professionals working in related fields (museums, tourism, community and economic development, folklore, urban and regional planning, sustainable transportation advocacy, community organizing, etc.)

These audiences may use Local Preservation School media products to educate themselves or as resources to support their own teaching (e.g. leading workshops, training employees or volunteers). Our plan for reaching this audience includes:

  • Continuing outreach on social media to collaborators and learners
  • Growing an email newsletter to provide regular project updates/related resources
  • Presenting workshops at local/statewide preservation conferences with online resources

Project costs and benefits

As previously mentioned, this project has already received $70,000 in funding through the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (in partnership with the Cultural Resources Office of Outreach, Diversity and Inclusion, National Park Service). This funding enables Baltimore Heritage to devote substantial staff support to project organizing and management in 2015 and 2016.

This proposal seeks an additional $10,000 in funding for additional consulting services in 2016 and 2017-extending the original project timeline as we test, refine and disseminate the media products of the Local Preservation School. The requested funds would be matched by the final ⅓ of funding from NCSHPO to total $33,300 within the grant period. Consulting services could include seeking outside expertise for the following roles:

  • Instructional Designer (experience with online education, user testing required)
  • Web Development (experience with GitHub, HTML/SASS/Boostrap, jQuery required)


The deliverables/media products created as part of the Local Preservation School include two products scheduled for completion prior to the start of the grant period in June 2016 and two products scheduled for completion prior to the end of the grant period in June 2017. All four are included as the requested grant funds would support the refinement and testing of all four media products during the grant period.

October 2015 - June 2016

Preservation Literacy Map: A detailed outline that uses simple, nontechnical language to describe the skills and knowledge people need to be effective advocates for historic preservation. The Literacy Map is intended to provide an overarching “curriculum” for the Local Preservation School, guiding the organization of the resource database and online lessons while connecting people to the most relevant resources for their area of interest. The concept of a “literacy map” as a major deliverable for this project is inspired by the Mozilla Webmaker project’s Web Literacy Map. Mozilla’s goal of “build literacy in exploring, building, and sharing the web” by creating “hands-on projects to make and activities for teaching” provides an important model. Our literacy map will allow people to determine what skills they have, what skills they don’t have and how to find resources to improve their confidence. The urgent need for just such a framework is noted in Preservation Education: Sharing Best Practices and Finding Common Ground (2014), where Jeremy C. Wells and Barry L. Stiefel argue that the short history of preservation education has left a gap in this area of pedagogy and curriculum design.

Explore Baltimore Heritage 101: A pilot course designed to teach Baltimore area residents and volunteers how to research and write about historic places. The course builds on the success of two existing Baltimore Heritage projects: Explore Baltimore Heritage (an interpretive website where volunteer research/writing) and Bmore Historic (an unconference and online forum dedicated to local public history and historic preservation efforts). This will enable us to access from an engaged community of learners among Baltimore-area residents and professionals and test the content and approach of the course before expanding the scope to a larger, national audience.

June 2016 - June 2017

Preservation Resource Database: A collection of documents, websites, tools and related material available under open licenses (public domain or Creative Commons). The database enables the presentation of related resources depending on resource type, location, publisher, date, thematic focus, intended audience, original format, etc.

Local Preservation 101: A beginner-friendly online course (or collection of online courses) that builds on the literacy map and resource database to deliver multiple short courses or focused on a national audience of people interested in historic preservation in urban and suburban communities. Each lesson will include course material, such as suggested resources, activities that can be completed online or in a participant’s own community, and some strategy for evaluation, such as a short quiz. We plan to design selected lessons in the form of templates that local partners could “fork” using GitHub to adapt for the needs of audiences in their own community. Examples of possible lessons include:

  • how to research and document historic buildings and neighborhoods
  • how to organize heritage program for neighborhood residents
  • how to plan and execute an advocacy campaign to protect a threatened landmark


The development for the Local Preservation School is organized and facilitated by Eli Pousson, Director of Preservation and Outreach for Baltimore Heritage. In this project, Eli Pousson supervised by Johns Hopkins, Executive Director (Baltimore Heritage) and is closely coordinating the project management with Barbara Little, Program Manager (Cultural Resources Office of Outreach, Diversity and Inclusion, National Park Service). Barbara Little initiated the development of this program and partnered with National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers to arrange funding.

Baltimore Heritage is a small nonprofit with a strong track record of successful community outreach and digital history projects supported by grant funding from a range of public and private sources. As a long-standing participant in the NTHP Statewide and Local Partners program, we anticipate drawing significant support for the Local Preservation School through our relationships and past partnerships with preservation professionals and volunteers around the country. Hired as a Field Officer in 2009, Eli Pousson continues to serve as the Director of Preservation and Outreach. Prior to his work at Baltimore Heritage, Eli worked for the DC Office of Historic Preservation, completed a Master’s of Applied Anthropology and Certificate in Historic Preservation at the University of Maryland College Park in December 2008, and a BFA in Industrial Design from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005. Eli also volunteers as a board member of the Friends of Maryland’s Olmsted Parks & Landscapes, a founding member of the Preservation Rightsizing Network, and a founding board member of the Rainbow Heritage Network.

Johns Hopkins has worked as the executive director of Baltimore Heritage since 2003. Before that, Johns worked for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development developing and implementing smart growth and neighborhood revitalization programs. Johns holds degrees from Yale University, George Washington University Law School, and the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. Recent Baltimore Heritage projects directed by Eli Pousson and Johns Hopkins include:

Explore Baltimore Heritage (2012-ongoing) explore.baltimoreheritage.org

A website and native smartphone app using the Curatescape platform for Omeka to combine interpretive essays with historic images from archives and libraries across the region. Funded by the Maryland Humanities Council, Maryland State Highways Administration, and Baltimore City Department of Transportation.

We Dig Hampstead Hill! Searching for the War of 1812 in Patterson Park (2014-2015) baltimoreheritage.org/project/we-dig-hampstead-hill

A large-scale public archaeology dig in an urban park engaging over 70 volunteers and 700 school children in the spring of 2014. Funded by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program.

Baltimore’s Civil Rights Heritage - Looking for Landmarks from the Movement (2015-2016) baltimoreheritage.github.io/baltimore-civil-rights-heritage

A project to create a Multiple Property Documentation Form for resources in Baltimore associated with African American Civil Rights in partnership with the Maryland Historical Trust and Baltimore City Heritage Area. Funded by Preservation Maryland, PNC Bank and the National Park Service Heritage Fund. Beyond our core project team, we plan to solicit participation from at least 30-40 preservation professionals and volunteers from local and state government and private nonprofits. Initial partners contacted prior to the submission of this proposal include the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, City Lore (a New York City-based cultural heritage nonprofit), the National Trust for Historic Preservation, San Antonio Conservation Society and others.

Project Income

At present, we have no plans to try to generate program income based on the Local Preservation School. Many open source projects do solicit financial donations to ensure continued development and improvements, however, given the focus of Baltimore Heritage’s core mission on Baltimore City we are instead hoping that the Local Preservation School can find a different path to sustainability by institutionalizing the project within the work of our prospective partner organizations. Johns Hopkins has been the executive director of Baltimore Heritage since 2003. Before that, Johns worked for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development developing and implementing smart growth and neighborhood revitalization programs. Johns holds degrees from Yale University, George Washington University Law School, and the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.