The U.S. Lighthouse Society’s Board of Directors has selected 35 lighthouse organizations to receive $1,000 grants to assist them with their business operations in 2021, given the continued impact of the pandemic on visitation and traditional revenue sources. The Society received 82 applications, which was a significant increase from the 51 we received in 2020. The selections were geographically dispersed and included 14 lighthouses from the Great Lakes region, 10 from the east coast from Maine to Florida, 6 from the three states on the west coast, 3 from the Gulf Coast and 2 from Alaska. The grants will help organizations pay for liability insurance, salaries for professional staff and pay for hourly workers, utility bills, purchase of COVID Personal Protection Equipment, and other operational expenses.
Some organizations receiving the grant are relatively new and small and their lighthouses were receiving less than 200 visitors per year prior to the pandemic while other organizations are well-established and mature but located in very isolated areas. For some organizations, the $1,000 grant is as much as 25% of their operating budget.
Our grants program started in 2015 through the establishment of the USLHS Preservation Grants Fund with two directed estate donations. We only use the earnings generated each year by the Fund investments to pay for the grants. As the capital in the fund goes up, so does the pool of earnings available to award grants. Between 2015 and 2019 we awarded 14 grants for preservation projects totaling $74,000. Last year and this year we suspended the usual preservation grants (of up to $10,000) to instead direct our focus on emergency business operating needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic with multiple $1,000 grants: $24,000 in 2020 and $35,000 now in 2021. We believe that next year we will be able to return to the Fund’s preservation focus.
It has truly been a delight and pleasure for all the members of our Board to be able to assist the lighthouse community with this program and especially with these emergency grants. Our mission includes “fostering public awareness of America’s lighthouses.” But that mission can’t be accomplished without all of the individual lighthouse non-profit organizations that preserve and sustain the lighthouses and open them to the public. That’s why it’s important for us to help these organizations at this time – because if they can’t stay in business and do their work, the rest doesn’t matter very much.
– Mike Vogel, President, and Henry Gonzalez, Chair, Preservation Grants Committee & Vice President
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org