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:
- “A purposeful approach to communication that facilitates meaningful, relevant, and inclusive experiences that deepen understanding, broaden perspectives, and inspire engagement with the world around us.”—National Association for Interpretation
- “A communication process that provides opportunities for visitors to connect emotionally and intellectually with the world around them in meaningful ways.”—Washington State Parks
- “Heritage interpretation is a communication process that guides visitors to discover meaning in objects, places, and landscapes.”—Gross, Zimmerman, & Buchholz, 2006
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.
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:
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…
- Have already done the work to research and create a concept for an interpretation activity.
- Have already engaged with partners, volunteers, and/or community members to plan your interpretation activity.
- Have identified funding sources for the required matching funds
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.
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…
- Have a solid idea for an interpretive project, but need expert assistance and time to make it happen.
- Or: Have recently acquired a new collection of historic objects or stories that you would like to interpret.
- Or: Want to improve on existing exhibits or signage.
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:
- The natural abundance, dramatic landscapes, and geographic diversity of western Washington’s coastal areas have shaped the people of this region: nurturing the continuous presence of indigenous cultures, attracting waves of newcomers, and leading to strong, often contested regional identities and relationships with the water. [Related topics: Canoe Cultures, Communities Shaped by Water, Water and Recreation]
- Since time immemorial, Washington’s waterways have fostered movement and connection, creating complex local networks and a gateway to the world, bringing together people, goods, and ideas in collaboration and in conflict. [Related topics: Voyages of Exploration, Securing Our Shores, Water Highways, Trade and Shipping]
- The richness of Maritime Washington’s natural resources has long fostered vibrant economies built around the water, but the environment and the lifeways that rely upon it are increasingly at risk. [Related topics: Working Waterfronts, Natural Resources & Human Impacts]
Eligible projects should support at least one of Maritime Washington’s goals:
- Build a network of cross-sector partners dedicated to advancing and honoring Washington’s maritime cultures.
- Provide support and resources for communities and Tribes working to enhance and share maritime heritage.
- Share diverse stories and increase visibility of Washington’s maritime heritage, past and present.
- Encourage sustainable experiences of maritime heritage for residents and visitors alike.
- Preserve our region’s unique maritime identity, resources, and lifeways.
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:
- Museum exhibits
- Interpretive signage
- Paper collateral such as flyers, maps, brochures, etc.
- Limited podcast and video series
- Murals and public art
- Development of interpretive webpages (NOT entire websites)
Implementation activities and expenses that are not eligible for funding in this inaugural grant cycle include:
- Community events and festivals
- Capital projects
- Operational expenses
Additional considerations for Implementation Grant projects:
- Events: Grant-funded projects can be showcased, distributed, or otherwise highlighted at festivals and/or community events, but grant funding cannot be allocated towards event costs or expenses. However, costs and expenses related to such events can be used towards the program’s required match.
- Historic structures: Please note that installation of interpretive signage/materials must not negatively impact any historic structures. Reach out to program staff with any questions.
- Ground disturbance: Projects that result in ground disturbance (e.g., any new digging) may also be subject to additional requirements. Reach out to program staff with any questions.
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:
- Tribal governments
- Nonprofit organizations
- Educational institutions
- City, port, county, or state governments and agencies
- Chambers of Commerce
- Main Street organizations
- National Park units within the National Heritage Area (please note that matching funds must come from non-federal sources)
- Community groups with fiscal sponsorship
- For-profit organizations explicitly connected to maritime interpretation, history, or industry
Ineligible applicants include:
- For-profit organizations not explicitly connect to maritime interpretation, history, or industry
- Religious organizations
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.
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:
- Relevance: To what extent does this proposed project relate to the mission, themes, and goals of the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area and the stories, experiences, resources, and cultures of our state’s saltwater shores and waterways?
- Feasibility: To what extent is this proposed project and organization ready to proceed based on the details provided regarding the budget, design, timeline, personnel, and previous experience of this organization?
- Partnerships and Community Support: How does this proposed project leverage new and former partnerships, particularly those that encourage cross-sector collaboration? Does this proposed project have significant resident and/or community support? Does this proposed project involve volunteer engagement?
- Public Benefit: How easily accessible or visible is this proposed project to the public? How does this proposed project seek to engage residents and visitors with maritime heritage?
- Diverse Stories: To what extent does this proposed project center the voices and experiences of historically underrepresented communities? Are individuals involved in the design and execution of the proposed project an active member of the identity, community, or culture of the interpretation/storytelling activities the proposed project aims to tell?
- Significance: How will the proposed project impact maritime heritage interpretation in Washington State?
Interpretation – Implementation Grants will additionally be scored based on:
- Contribution: What other funding sources and in-kind donations/resources have been identified and leveraged for the 1:1 match requirement of this grant program?
- Longevity Plan: What is this proposed project’s plan for maintaining this interpretation activity into the future? Does this proposed project create opportunities for the applicant to replicate this activity in the future?
- Strategy: Does the proposed project rely on an established interpretive plan? Is this part of a long-term interpretive strategy rather than a one-off activity?
Interpretation – Planning Grants will additionally be scored based on:
- Commitment: Is the grantee prepared to commit staff and volunteer time to a robust planning process? Is the grantee committed to following through on the actions laid out in an interpretive plan?
- Strategy: How will the interpretive plan be folded into larger strategies of the organization?
Special considerations will be given to projects that are:
- Replicable: How easily can this proposed project be replicated by other organizations? Can this proposed project serve as an outstanding example of maritime heritage interpretation?
- Unique: Does this project tell an otherwise unknown or under-told maritime story? Does it utilize an innovative approach to interpretation?
Terms and Conditions
All recipients of the Maritime Washington Grant Program will be required to:
- Acknowledge the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area and National Park Service on or near the interpretation project and all public-facing materials related to the project.
- Report periodically to the Washington Trust on the implementation of the projects and local impact. (Report format and further instructions will be provided upon award selection.) This reporting will include:
- Halfway through the Project Execution Period, recipients will complete a progress report in which they will describe project progress and work status, including photographs of work underway.
- No later than 60 days after the conclusion of the project implementation period, recipients will complete a final report in which they will describe local dollars leveraged, staff and volunteer time, new partnerships created, and final impact of project on local community.
- Sixty days after project completion, provide a reflection report in the form of an interview, article, photo essay, or presentation to demonstrate lessons learned for the benefit of the Maritime Washington partner network. (Format and timeline will be discussed upon award selection.)
- Recipients will have until January 31, 2025, to complete their grant-supported projects.
- Interpretation – Planning Grant funds will be remitted directly to the selected interpretive planning consultant.
- Interpretation – Implementation Grant funds will be paid as reimbursement after recipients submits receipts, invoices, and other demonstration of dollars spent on project-related contractors, materials, and labor.
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: www.maritimewa.org/who-we-are.