BNHA Advocate for National Heritage Areas

Write Congress to adjust the requirements around funding the National Heritage Areas.

Content about Advocate for National Heritage Areas

Advocate for National Heritage Areas

Join the Alliance of National Heritage Areas (ANHA) in asking Congress to ease some of the funding restrictions and requirements on heritage area organizations. Like all organizations during this time the BNHA and its industry partners are looking for support to continue our work. We are asking each of you to write Congress to garner support for Baltimore and the 54 other national heritage areas across the country; many of which are located in areas most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below is a sample letter that you can copy and send to Congress. These letters can also be emailed through the Senator's websites also listed below.

We can only continue our work with your support!

Maryland Senator Links:

Senator Ben Cardin
Senator Christopher Van Hollen

Advocacy Letter Template:


[Write One or Both]

The Honorable Senator Benjamin L. Cardin

509 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Senator Christopher Van Hollen Jr.

110 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear [Senator Cardin / Van Hollen],

I am incredibly appreciative of your continuous support and leadership during this critical time in our nation. The urgent needs of our communities is high. Like you, the Baltimore National Heritage Area (BNHA) is here for our cultural and heritage partners in Baltimore City - providing guidance, resources and a plan for the future.

As Congress searches for ways to help Americans who have been hard hit by the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus, we ask you to consider the role America’s National Heritage Areas can and should play in our nation’s recovery. 

As you know and champion, America’s National Heritage Areas revitalize local communities through heritage preservation and tourism. We not only meet the required 50-50% federal match, we leverage an average of $5.50 in local, state and private funding to advance crucial community projects. National Heritage Areas have accomplished this work in both urban and rural areas where other means of support were limited or non-existent, restoring both a sense of hope and pride of place.

I request the following measures from Congress as part of a national recovery initiative.

⦁ Waive the matching requirements temporarily for all National Heritage Areas in FY2020 & FY2021- As corporate, local and state governments commitments lag in the face of this economic turmoil, many National Heritage Areas will find it difficult to secure the required one-to-one match for federal funds in FY2020 and FY2021. BNHA programs are designed for equity. They are continuously providing programs for Baltimore Public School Students through our Kids in Kayaks and Every Kid in the Park in partnership with Fort McHenry and Baltimore City Recreation and Parks. We have launched a History Through Art program to engage Baltimore City Public School visual arts students. BNHA is currently offering museum transportation funding so that all students may visit historic sites and museums. Their walking tours, Federally funded Heritage Investment Grant (HIG), State funded Neighborhood Placemaking Grant (NPG) and the City’s Small Capital Grant (SCG) were all developed to enhance and promote Baltimore history and culture through their many partnerships.

Partnerships with Visit Baltimore and Visit Maryland help to support cultural organizations and museums found in the heritage area. The Baltimore National Heritage Area has more than 20 museums and cultural gems like the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Maryland Zoo and Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Visitors also have access to regional parks and trails within the heritage area. They are focusing on creating more visitor experiences and economic impact by investing in neighborhoods and the Main Street program.

Their grant programs from their Federal and State funders are instrumental in bringing funding into Baltimore City. Their Federal and State funding allows the Baltimore National Heritage Area to stimulate the local economy through tourism, conventions and preservation projects that create jobs.

They anticipated their projections for FY2020 to be slightly higher due to the number of grants awarded by Maryland Heritage Areas Authority for Baltimore. However, the COVID-19 pandemic will have a grave impact on the Baltimore National Heritage Area and partners to identify matching resources. Without the ability to secure matches for capital and programming grants. The Baltimore National Heritage Area will be unable to meet their requirement for their Federal funding match. This is why I am asking that all the funding from the National Heritage Area program waive the match requirement for funding years FY20 and FY21.

  • Fund the National Heritage Area program at $32 million (as supported in FY21 appropriations requests). Fully funding the National Heritage Area program will generate stimulus in the hundreds of communities we represent that rely on tourism as a significant portion of their economies.
  • Enact the National Heritage Area Program Act (H.R. 1049/S. 3217) – S. 3217 and H.R. 1049 establish a system of National Heritage Areas as an integral part of the National Park Service, ensuring uniform standards for the way National Heritage Areas are designated, managed, and assessed, and will provide Congress with an enhanced ability to conduct oversight of the program. Without program legislation, 30 NHAs will lose their federal funding authority in 2021, with another 15-following suit by 2024. Without long-term stability, NHAs cannot make the long-term commitments to our partners that will help them recover from this crisis. Passage of S. 3217 and H.R. 1049 will enable us to make those commitments and focus on our communities at this critical time.

I ask you not to miss this opportunity to engage BNHA's talents, connections, and abilities to serve their partners and local economies. Their track record is sound and each of the 55 National Heritage Areas are committed to doing their part to stabilize their communities, grow the economy, and help get our neighbors back on their feet, back to health, and back to work.

Once again, thank you for being a champion for the BNHA by amplifying their work, supporting their appropriations request, and assisting the National Heritage Area program with program legislation. Now, more than ever, we need leaders like you and programs like the BNHA to work together to create resilient economies, connected communities, accessibility to transportation, and stronger regional partnerships.

I look forward to working alongside you on this effort to strengthen Maryland’s communities.


[Your Name]