Maritime Washington Grant Program: Interpretation Grants Program Guide

Since time immemorial, people have settled along the saltwater shores of what is today Washington State, supported by the rich maritime resources for food, shelter, inspiration, trade, and transportation. Today, Washington’s shores continue to serve as home to many vibrant maritime cultures.

To support those who celebrate, maintain, and share our state’s water-based stories and resources, the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area is pleased to offer the Maritime Washington Grant Program. This program will award funds to the nonprofit organizations, local governments, Tribes, regional educational institutions, and other entities that support our region’s maritime heritage.

In this inaugural cycle, the Maritime Washington Grant Program will support projects related to the planning and implementation of interpretation initiatives centered on maritime heritage. We define “maritime heritage” broadly as the history and connection that people have with the marine environment. It includes tangible and intangible resources and encompasses cultural, historical, and natural resources. Interpretation can include everything from exhibits and signage to walking tours and educational programs to webpages and podcasts.

Interpretation has been defined in many ways:

The primary purpose of this program is to support projects that share diverse stories from, increase visibility of, and encourage public engagement with Washington’s maritime heritage, past and present.

Key Dates

November 30, 2023, 12:00 pm: Grant program Office Hours with grant administrators (Register here)

December 15, 2023, 6:00 pm: Application period closes

January 30, 2024: All applicants notified

Early February 2024: Grant contracts prepared for grant recipients

Mid-February 2024: Grant-supported project work and reimbursable expenses commence

August 2024: Progress reports are due for grantees

January 31, 2025: Grant-supported projects completed

Kinds of Interpretation Grants

The inaugural grant cycle of the Maritime Washington Grant Program will support local and regional efforts to interpret maritime heritage through two types of grants:

Implementation Grants

Interpretation Implementation Grants are matching-dollar grant funds that support the installation, fabrication, or otherwise rendering of an interpretive project or activity. This kind of grant is an excellent fit if you…

Type: Dollars

Maximum Grant Request: $15,000

Total Grantable Dollars Available: $60,000

Payment: These funds are reimbursement grants, meaning that you will pay for work on your project upfront, and Maritime Washington will reimburse you for project-related costs.

Matching Requirement? There is a required 1:1 match of non-federal funding and/or in-kind resources (including staff time) for these grant funds.

Planning Grants

Interpretation Planning Grants connect grant recipients with regional interpretive planners and fund the costs of the planner’s expert consultation in the development of exhibit services. This kind of grant is an excellent fit if you…

Type: Technical Assistance

Maximum Grant Request: Each Planning Grant will be approximately $10,000-15,000

Total Grantable Dollars Available: $30,000

Payment: Planners will be paid directly by Maritime Washington.

Matching Requirement? There is no cash match required for these grant funds, but grantees will be required to dedicate significant staff and/or volunteer time towards the planning process and provide documentation of that time.

Eligible Projects & Expenses

Projects eligible for the Maritime Washington Grant Program are those that relate largely to maritime heritage. Projects should speak to at least one of Maritime Washington’s interpretive themes:

Eligible projects should support at least one of Maritime Washington’s goals:

Interpretation – Implementation Grants (Funding)

Funds to support the installation, fabrication, or otherwise rendering of an interpretive project or activity. These activities include, but are not limited to:

Implementation activities and expenses that are not eligible for funding in this inaugural grant cycle include:

Additional considerations for Implementation Grant projects:

Interpretation – Planning Grants (Technical Assistance)

The services of an interpretive planner to develop an interpretive plan. Grantees will be matched with an interpretive planner that best fits their individual organization’s needs. These planning services may be utilized for project-specific services, such as an exhibit or signage program. Proposed projects should be able to demonstrate some level of research, collection, or audience engagement preparation and/or should build on an existing strategic plan.

While this technical assistance program is intended to match you with an interpretive planner, we understand that some applicants may already have a specific interpretive planner in mind that they would prefer to work with. If this is the case for you, please reach out to the Grant Administrators to discuss further at [email protected].

A note on future grants: Future grant opportunities from Maritime Washington (including a second cycle in Spring 2024) will include a wider range of eligible projects, such as events, workshops, tours, speakers, marketing, educational programming, and preservation planning.

Eligible Applicant Organizations/Entities

The Maritime Washington National Heritage Area includes 3,000 miles of Washington State’s saltwater shoreline from Grays Harbor County to the Canadian border, extending one-quarter mile inland from the mean high tide line. Its boundaries include the coastal lands of 21 federally recognized Tribes, 13 counties, 32 incorporated cities, and 33 port districts. All applicants must be located within one of the 13 counties within the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area: San Juan, Whatcom, Skagit, Island, Snohomish, King, Pierce, Thurston, Mason, Kitsap, Jefferson, Clallam, or Grays Harbor.

While applying entities do not need to be located within the quarter-mile boundary of the National Heritage Area to be eligible for this grant program, the project for which they are applying should be directly connected to Washington’s maritime heritage and/or resources located within the bounds of the National Heritage Area.

Eligible organizations include:

Ineligible applicants include:

Note: If your organization/institution is not a Tribal entity nor Native-led and your proposed project includes interpretation of Native peoples or stories, you will be required to describe your existing partnerships with Tribal entities or your plan to authentically cultivate relationships with Tribal entities for your proposed project in the application. Show your good-faith effort—we are willing to help make introductions.

Scoring Criteria

After receiving all applications by 6:00 pm on December 15, 2023, applications will be read by a Review Committee comprised of Maritime Washington’s Advisory Board, stakeholders, and grant administrators. The Review Committee will score ALL applications on the following criteria:

Interpretation Implementation Grants will additionally be scored based on:
Interpretation Planning Grants will additionally be scored based on:
Special considerations will be given to projects that are:

Terms and Conditions

All recipients of the Maritime Washington Grant Program will be required to:


The mission of the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area is to support a network that strengthens the maritime community and connects people with the stories, experiences, resources, and cultures of our state’s saltwater shores and waterways. The Maritime Washington Grant Program is one of the ways in which we are working to achieve this mission. To learn more about the other ways in which we are working to achieve this mission, please explore our website: