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The American Architectural Foundation, as a nonprofit partner of Save America’s Treasures (SAT) since 2014, is on a mission to tell the stories behind the Save America’s Treasures grants. Working with the National Park Service and its Save America’s Treasures partner agencies, we’re working to increase public understanding and visibility of this critical program and the role it plays in preserving our most significant cultural, intellectual and heritage resources.

The Save America’s Treasures program is the largest and most successful federal grant program, and is the only federal program dedicated solely to the physical protection of our nation’s irreplaceable cultural heritage. From 1999 to 2010, Congress appropriated over $315 million to approximately 1,300 projects to provide preservation and conservation work on nationally significant and historic collections, artifacts, structures and sites. Requiring a dollar-for-dollar private match, these grants have leveraged more than $377 million to date in private investment, and have contributed more than 16,000 jobs to local and state economies. Although no new grants have been funded since 2010, 175 grant projects are still in progress.

AAF has been a longtime supporter of Save America’s Treasures, and knows firsthand the impact of this valuable program, having received grants to save two of our treasures – the Octagon House and the only remaining architectural presentation model of the World Trade Center. There are over a thousand additional untold SAT stories that can shed light on some of the greatest ideas, events, and achievements in American culture and history, and we want to tell why each SAT project and grant uniquely mattered.

These stories illuminate not only the resilience of our American treasures, but also the ongoing need in the 21st century to protect our cultural heritage and give recognition and praise to all the heroic preservation efforts that have often been unsung.

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Posted in: Center for Design & Cultural Heritage, Save America's Treasures

The American Architectural Foundation has been dedicated to advancing the role of architecture and design in American society since its founding in 1943 by the American Institute of Architects.

In its 75 years in existence the Foundation’s work has taken many forms — from educational programming and exhibitions in its early years to large-scale design initiatives and programs —all of which serve to create a rich legacy.

As the managing partner of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design for twenty years, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the United States Conference of Mayors, the Foundation helped move the needle on design and cities. And, through its other signature programs like Save America’s Treasures in partnership with National Parks Service, the Sustainable Cities Design Academy, and Design for Learning, the Foundation has provided critical design leadership training and technical assistance to hundreds of elected officials, education leaders, business leaders, and other key decision makers in the design process.

In recent years, cities and civic leaders have embraced design and design thinking in a way that could not have been imagined when the Foundation begin its work back in 1943 — and AAF’s role in this transformation is a source of great pride for the Foundation. With this increased interest in the role of design in shaping our cities came a proliferation of new organizations to support and facilitate this cultural shift. These advances in the role of design in American society and changes in the nonprofit design sector, coupled with the departure of the organization’s longest-serving CEO, prompted the Foundation’s Board to embark on an intensive and lengthy process to examine the ongoing role and work of the Foundation.

As the Board of Regents reflected on the positive changes of the cultural value of design, the accomplishments of the Foundation, and how the legacy of the Foundation’s work is being carried out by its former staff in new roles and organizations across the country, they reached the conclusion that the American Architectural Foundation had accomplished what it set out to do. As a result, the Foundation began to complete its remaining programs and wind down its operations in the Summer of 2018 and the organization’s endowments have been distributed to allied organizations. The Foundation’s research and reports will remain available on its website as a resource to the field.

The Foundation’s work would not have been possible without the incredible talents of its many staff over the decades, the generous support of its funders, and the tireless dedication of its civic & design partners across the country. The Board remains deeply proud of the significant contributions Foundation has made in its 75-year history and would like to acknowledge that this would not have been possible without the efforts, dedication, and support from so many of you.