The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) is an 18-county region designated as a National Heritage Area by the U.S. Congress in 2009.  It includes all counties in northwest Mississippi that lie in whole or in part within the alluvial plain of the Mississippi Delta.

Managed and administered by the U.S. National Park Service, National Heritage Areas use the shared history of a region as a platform for action to collaborate on preservation, promotion and sustainable development based on the region’s heritage assets.  The National Park Service defines a National Heritage Area as a place where natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally significant landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography.

MDNHA is governed by a 15-member Board of Directors appointed by state agencies and nonprofit organizations engaged in heritage and cultural programming and development, state universities in and serving the Delta area, the Governor’s office and local boards of supervisors in counties within the MDNHA.  At least 7 of the Board members must reside in the MDNHA.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University provides staffing and administrative support for MDNHA, including the administration of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Program.  Detailed information on MDNHA, including a copy of its full management plan, as well as information on the Delta Grants Program, can be accessed on its website at


The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area fosters preservation, perpetuation and celebration of the Delta’s heritage through a climate of collaboration and sustainable economic development.

Through a comprehensive and continual system of engagement and education, the National Heritage Area leads an inclusive network of partners, institutions and residents in achieving a regional vision.

We create opportunities to save our special places, maintain our vibrant traditions, enhance community and cultural pride, support economic and social transformation and advance the appreciation and understanding of the Delta’s important past and its continuing contributions to the American story.


Goal #1:  Perpetuate culture by preserving, celebrating and sharing the traditions, places, and stories of the region, and create a Delta Experience for visitors and residents, including:

Research and document the Delta’s stories, its history and living traditions connected to themes, identify practitioners of living traditions, collect oral histories and build a clearinghouse of information about the Delta’s heritage.

Provide training and resources to preserve history and perpetuate culture and tell the story through workshops, forums and tours. Set standards by creating a tour guide certification program.

Tell the Delta’s story through a variety of interpretive methods, including guided tours for visitors, school groups, youth organizations, development of guidebooks, brochures, signage and orientation exhibits and creation of a website and audio and video guides.

Promote the Delta Experience and increase accessibility for travelers and tourists by facilitating partnerships with cultural and heritage attractions, advocating for signage, lodging and visitor centers and developing a hospitality ambassador training program.

Goal #2:  Save historic and natural resources and create a sense of place by raising awareness, providing recognition, and directing resources to training, education and preservation, including:

Document historic, heritage and archaeological resources by preparing surveys of such resources, identifying and assessing threatened resources, preparing National Register nominations and assisting in preparing Mississippi landmark nominations.

Increase awareness and advocate for preservation by planning publicity campaigns, creating “10 Most Endangered in the Delta” campaign, documenting best practices, working with towns, counties and other partners and encouraging stewardship of natural resources.

Provide training and information to support preservation efforts and provide financial support for restoration projects by acting as a clearinghouse for grant or sponsorship opportunities and creating a grants program to provide seed funding.

Goal #3:  Build a network by providing engagement opportunities, including:

Document the value of culture and heritage to provide a baseline to track growth; inform local, state and federal officials and agencies as well as the general public.

Create an identity for the heritage area through signage, presentations, meetings and media.

Honor and celebrate partners’ accomplishments by creating an awards program and hosting an annual awards event.

Establish forums for discussion and planning. Host exchanges for the discussion of preservation, tourism and other topics, provide a forum to discuss race, economics and history and form committees to monitor and plan for preservation, conservation and telling the Delta’s story.

Offer opportunities for engagement by creating a volunteer program for MDNHA sanctioned events and projects and offering internships and student project opportunities.

Goal #4:  Contribute to sustainable economic development through activities that will strengthen local and regional economies, including:

The support of activities that will increase local tourism and the economic development that tourism supports.

Support sustainable economic development based on heritage and culture, including the development of cultural and heritage-based businesses.

Document the value of culture and heritage, and inform stakeholders, including elected officials and the general public, of the economic impact of heritage and heritage tourism

Assist area stakeholders in identifying resources, grants and sponsorships that support the Delta’s culture and heritage.


In working to achieve its goals and strategic objectives, MDNHA will focus on five broad themes that capture the essence of the Delta region:

The Mississippi Delta and the Land It Embraces

•Formation of the Delta – the Mississippi River
•Early Inhabitants and Exploration – Native Americans
•Agriculture and Cotton
•Biological resources
•The Natural World – water and land

The Culture of the Blues and the Birth of an American Sound

•Delta culture and contrasts
•Emergence of the Blues
•Blues influence on American culture and music (rock ‘n ‘roll, rhythm and blues, jazz)
•Blues today—continuity and worldwide recognition

Moving Toward Freedom: Changing America’s Character in the Struggle for Rights

•Civil War
•Great Migration and Immigration
•Civil Rights
•Pivotal Events and People (Emmett Till, Civil Rights leaders, Freedom Summer, MS Freedom Democratic Party, Freedom Riders…)
•The Delta today

Growing More than Cotton: The Delta as a Wellspring of Creativity


The Delta Divide: Creating the Delta’s Diverse Communities

•Extremes and paradoxes
•The built environment
•National Register of Historic Places
•Sites not on the National Register


Goal.  The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Program makes matching grants for innovative programs and projects that help MDNHA accomplish its mission, goals and strategic objectives as outlined in its Management Plan.

Purposes.  The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Program provides strategic investments in programs and projects that help preserve, enhance, interpret and promote the uniqueness of the cultural and heritage experience within the Mississippi Delta.

Funding may be provided to heritage sites, events, programs and other projects of cultural, educational and recreational value that also address one or more of MDNHA’s five basic themes.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Program will make seed grants to initiate new activities and projects that meet MDNHA goals, with the purpose of expanding heritage development activities across the region.


Geographic Area.  Applicants must be located in or directly serve all or part of one or more of the following Mississippi counties:  Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington, Yazoo.  A table of communities within these counties is included in Table 2.2 in the MDNHA Management Plan.  A map of this area is also included in the Management Plan.

Types of Applicants.  Grant support is available to units of local government (including schools and quasi-governmental entities), public and private institutions of higher learning and institutes or research centers at such institutions, nonprofit organizations with current tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, and federally-recognized Indian tribes.  Nonprofit organizations must also be in compliance with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s reporting requirements.


Each application must be signed by an appropriate individual with the authority to submit such application.  MDNHA may require authorizing resolutions from governing authorities.

Applications must be complete and submitted in a timely manner as listed in the guidelines.

Applicant eligibility and authority to submit application must be confirmed.

All grant-supported activity must take place within the boundaries of the MDNHA.

All grants require a minimum 1:1 match of cash or in-kind services and products, and the availability and source of such matching funds must be documented in the application.

All required assurances and certifications must be included with the application.


It is the goal of MDNHA to support the broadest possible spectrum of programs and activities, involving the broadest possible number of local partners, through the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Program, provided that such work is consistent with the mission of MDNHA, addresses one or more of MDNHA’s goals and strategic objectives, and addresses one or more of the five themes stressed by MDNHA, as described above.

Seed grants for new and innovative projects will be considered, as well as projects that enhance and support ongoing cultural and heritage activities in the region.

At this time, within those broad parameters, MDNHA has not established any specific funding priorities.  See the MDNHA Management Plan for complete discussions of possible activities under each goal and strategy.  Activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Perpetuate Culture and Tell the Story: The Delta Experience

Development of information that will encourage, promote and enable tourism

Education of visitors and residents about the history of the region and its cultural assets

Provide a forum to address issues of race, economics and history

Support efforts to improve and expand visitor services

Develop educational programs for youth-oriented organizations and schools

Create opportunities for students in high school and college to learn about the Delta through research and interpretive projects

Research and document cultural and living traditions, significant historical events and associated places

Identify locations to tell stories and develop sites, museums or exhibits and providing technical assistance for interpretive development

Develop new and engaging interpretation in a variety of formats such as guidebooks, audio tours, exhibits, events, children’s activities and thematic driving and walking tours

Create new educational programs for schools and youth-oriented organizations

Work with tourism agencies to promote the Delta experience

A Sense of Place:  Save the Delta’s Historic Resources

Conservation of cultural and natural resources

Restoration of historically and culturally significant sites

Development of trails and other recreational resources that promote tourism and cultural or historical assets

Increase awareness of the importance of preserving historic resources through publicity campaigns, documentation of best practices and awards programs

Advocate for historic preservation by working with towns, counties, state agencies and organizations

Encourage stewardship of natural resources by working with towns, counties, state agencies and organizations

Document and publicize threatened resources

Provide support for preservation through surveys, workshops and symposia

The Power of Partnerships: Build the Network

Serve as a clearinghouse for activities related to preserving historic, cultural and natural resources and provide connections for support

Provide recognition for excellence in preserving, interpreting and promoting the Delta’s culture and heritage

Regularly convene partners to address issues of preservation, tourism and other topics. Form committees to address issues as needed

Work with tourism partners to expand involvement of all counties and attractions in tourism promotion

Create a clearinghouse for resources that help develop and tell the Delta’s story such as archival and artifact collections, artisan directories, contacts for historians and researchers, and technical assistance for interpretive planning

Sustainable Economic Development

Providing training to front-line employees engaged in promotion of tourism

Provision of information to tourists and promotional activities that will attract visitors and generate economic impact

Programs and activities that create or preserve jobs in tourism and heritage development

Document and publicize the economic value of investment in heritage preservation and in heritage tourism

Support for the development or expansion of heritage-based economic development projects


No funds from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Program may be used to acquire any interest in real property.

No funds from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Program may be used for food, beverages, meals or entertainment costs associated with any grant-supported activities.

No funds from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Program may be used to support annual campaigns, capital campaigns, endowment funds or scholarship funds.

No funds may be used to buy ads.

The Program will not provide general operating support (overhead, administrative expenses) to any applicant; all funds must be committed to specific purposes, projects and activities that address MDNHA goals, strategic objectives and themes.

The Program will not provide general operating support for existing annual or other regular community festivals or events; it may consider activities that expand the promotion and impact of such events.


Funding Available.  In the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, MDNHA has committed a maximum of $200,000 to support the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Program, which includes administration and development of the Program.  MDNHA is not required to distribute this entire amount as grants.

Range of Grants.  The range of available grant support is from $2,500 to $25,000.

Cost Sharing or Matching Requirements.  All funds provided by the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Program must be matched on a 1:1 basis by the applicant.  The required match may be in cash or provided as in-kind products or services, including volunteer time committed to activities.  Applicants must document the availability of matching funds in the application, and report on the actual use of matching funds as part of a final report on the grant.  All matching funds must come from non-Federal funding sources.

Number of Applications.  Applicants may submit more than one application during any grant cycle.  Separate applications will require the commitment and documentation of separate and independent matching funds for each application.


Availability of Application Packets.  Application packets, including these program regulations and guidelines, as well as application forms, will be available on or before Friday, January 8, 2016.  They may be picked up at 130 Ewing Hall on the campus of Delta State University in Cleveland, MS between the hours of 9:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. on normal business days.  Applicants may also call the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at 662-846-4311 to request a packet by mail, or download all information at

Pre-Application Workshops.  MDNHA will conduct five (5) Pre-Application Workshops between January 11 and January 29, 2016, in locations across the MDNHA region.  Dates, times and locations for these workshops will be available at or by calling the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at 662-846-4312, on or before January 8, 2016.

Content and Form of Application.  The application for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Program will consist of a cover sheet, a proposal narrative that will include a project abstract and other information needed to evaluate the application, a budget form, a budget narrative, any attachments required by the form or its content, and a list of assurances or certifications required by applicable laws or regulations.  All forms and instructions for completing proposals will be available at on or before January 8, 2016.


Date for Submittal.  Applications for Delta Heritage Grants will be accepted beginning Monday, February 15, 2016, and will continue to be accepted at any time past that date.

Deadlines.  To be considered at the May 2016 meeting of the MDNHA Board of Directors, applications must be received by 4:00 P.M. on Monday, April 4, 2016.  To be considered at the August 2016 meeting of the MDNHA Board of Directors, applications must be received by 4:00 P.M. on Tuesday, July 5, 2016.  MDNHA expects to announce regular spring and fall grant cycles beginning in 2017.

Method of Submittal.

Applications may be hand-delivered or submitted by mail or other delivery service to:

“Mississippi Delta Heritage Grants Program Application”

Delta Center for Culture and Learning, 130 Ewing Hall,

1003 West Sunflower Road, DSU Box 3152, Cleveland, MS 38733.


Format and Copies.   An original and one (1) copy of the application should be submitted.  Forms and assurances or certifications provided with the application packet should be used.  Narrative sections should be on standard letter-size paper, with one-inch margins and standard 12-point fonts.  The name of the applicant and title of the project should appear on each page of the narrative, and pages of the narrative should be numbered.


Initial Review.   Each application will be initially reviewed by program staff and/or consultants to determine eligibility for support and whether threshold requirements are met.  Only those from eligible applicants that meet threshold requirements will be considered for support.  Notice will be given by mail or e-mail within 10 business days to those applicants not meeting eligibility and/or threshold requirements.

Evaluation and Ranking.    All applications deemed eligible for support will be reviewed by members of the MDNHA Grants Committee, which includes MDNHA Board members and staff members at the Delta Center for Learning and Culture.  Committee members will complete written ratings and evaluation sheets for each application, and the results of the ratings will be tabulated by the staff at the Delta Center.  The Grants Committee will then meet to review all results, and determine which applications shall be recommended for funding.

Ranking Factors.    Each application shall be ranked according to the following factors:  alignment with and advancement of MDNHA mission, goals and strategic objectives (20 points); soundness of plan of work and project design (40 points); collaboration, partnerships and networking (10 points); reasonableness of budget and budget narrative (20 points); evaluation and impact (10 points).  Detailed information on each of the ranking factors will be made available with the application form.

Additional Factors.    The MDNHA Board of Directors and staff may, regardless of points awarded, make grants at their discretion to address non-competitive issues such as geographic diversity, applicant diversity, and issues or themes addressed by applications.


Grant Awards.  The MDNHA Board of Directors will make final decisions on grant awards during one or more of their regularly scheduled meetings.  The Board reserves the right to allocate funds in amounts less that those requested in applications.

Grant Agreements.  A written grant agreement incorporating the application received and all applicable Federal and State laws and regulations will accompany each grant award.  Grant agreements will include all reporting requirements and applicable administrative policies, including those on the promotion of grant supported activities.  Grantees may be required to attend a workshop on grant implementation procedures.

Reports.  The final report will include a narrative as well as other documentation, including photographs and web links, as appropriate to demonstrate the completion of funded work.  Two copies of the final report will be submitted.

Site Visits.  All funded projects are subject to site visits by MDNHA staff or consultants prior to funding, during the time in which project activities are being performed, and following the completion of the final report.

Notice of Awards.  No public notice of awards will be made until grant agreements are executed.

Award Credit and Recognition.  Grantees will be required to acknowledge the support from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, through the National Park Service, in all announcements and other literature used to promote grant-supported activities, as well as in all materials developed for publication as part of any grant-supported activities, including print materials, online materials, exhibits and signs.

Payment of Grants.  For grants in the amount of $10,000 or higher, eighty percent (80%) of the grant award will be payable to the applicant upon the execution of the grant agreement, subject to the time required to process such payment; twenty percent (20%) of the grant award will be withheld and will be payable to the applicant on the timely completion of all project activities and submission of required reports.

For grants in the amount of less than $10,000, ninety percent (90%) of the grant award will be payable to the applicant upon the execution of the grant agreement, subject to the time required to process such payment; ten percent (10%) of the grant award will be withheld and will be payable to the applicant on the timely completion of all project activities and submission of required reports.


Questions concerning these regulations and guidelines should be directed to: Heather Kovarcik Miller, Program Associate for Projects, Delta Center for Culture and Learning, DSU Box 3152, 130 Ewing Hall, 1003 West Sunflower Road, Cleveland, MS 38733, phone 662-846-4311, email

Summary of Timeline for the Process:

December 23, 2015 – “Save the Date” announcement of January Pre-Application Workshops

January 8, 2016 – Grant Program publicly announced, with announcement, regulations and forms posted on MDNHA website; e-mail address posted for questions concerning the grants program and process

Weeks of January 11-15, 18-22 and 25-29 – Five (5) Pre-Application Workshops to be held, one in each of the MDNHA areas represented by a board member elected from local county Boards of Supervisors

February 15, 2015 – First date on which grant applications will be accepted

April 4, 2016 – DEADLINE for applications to be considered at May 11 Board meeting

May 11, 2016 – MDNHA Board meeting (first round of applications may be considered)

July 5, 2016 – DEADLINE for applications to be considered at August Board meeting

August 3 or 17, 2016 – MDNHA Board meeting (second round of applications considered)