Leonardtown, MD – July 17, 2019 – The St. Mary’s County Museum Division and the Friends of St. Clement’s Island & Piney Point Museums, the nonprofit organization that supports the historic sites overseen by the St. Mary’s County Museum Division, was recently awarded $100,000 and $6,700 in grant funding, respectively, by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA). The grants will go toward a new museum building at the aging, 25 year old St. Clement’s Island Museum in Colton’s Point, MD, as well as for replacement of outdated and faded interpretive signage at sites overseen by the St. Mary’s County Museum Division, which include St. Clement’s Island Museum, St. Clement’s Island State Park, Piney Point Lighthouse Museum & Historic Park, Drayden African-American Schoolhouse and the U.S. Colored Troops Interpretive Center in Lexington Park, MD.

These grants are just two of 109 matching grants totaling $5 million awarded to Maryland nonprofits, local jurisdictions, and other heritage tourism organizations by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority. These grant funds support heritage tourism projects and activities that draw visitors to and expand economic development and tourism-related job creation in Maryland’s 13 certified heritage areas. In FY19, the Hogan administration doubled the funding for the MHAA grants program.

Organizations receiving grant awards include museums, parks, educational organizations, and other entities that steward and celebrate the unique cultural and natural resources located within one of Maryland’s heritage areas. A list of the 109 FY20 grant awards can be found at mht.maryland.gov/documents/PDF/MHAA/MHAA_CurrentGrantAwards.pdf.

“We are truly honored that our important projects were selected for this grant funding,” says Karen Stone, Manager of the St. Mary’s County Museum Division. “A brand-new, state of the art museum building featuring fresh exhibits regarding the birth of Maryland, along with updated interpretive signage at all of our sites will go a long way at better telling our important stories with the aim of drawing increased visitation – both local and tourist – to St. Mary’s County as a whole.”

MHAA oversees Maryland’s system of 13 locally-administered, state-certified heritage areas. Today, all Maryland counties and Baltimore City have at least part of a state-certified heritage area within their boundaries. St. Mary’s County, along with Charles and Calvert counties, is part of the Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium.

The Southern Maryland Heritage Area (Destination Southern Maryland) awards for the Southern Maryland Region reached a new level of funding for the region, topping $331,000 awarded to significant heritage tourism projects within Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s County. These grants constitute a project total of over $1,000,000 toward innovative tourism, excellence in cultural and natural resource conservation, and unique educational opportunities.

These grants represent the second year that the Southern Maryland region has risen to over $300,000 in grant awards. The Southern Maryland Heritage Area shepherds the state level granting through their office before it is presented to the Maryland Heritage Area Authority Commission. These grants have the capacity for $50,000 for non-capital projects and $100,000 for capital projects.

Every dollar of MHAA state grant funding has a return on investment of $4.45, generates $19.8 million in state and local taxes, and creates 3,146 jobs annually. For this round of grants in FY20, more than $5.9 million in funds were requested with $5 million awarded.

MHAA is an independent unit in the executive branch of government administered by the Maryland Department of Planning. Since its creation in 1996, MHAA has awarded more than $41 million in grants and helped to leverage more than $1.6 billion in non-state funding for heritage tourism projects and activities in Maryland’s 13 certified heritage areas.
To learn more about the MHAA program, visit mht.maryland.gov/heritageareas.shtml.

The Friends of St. Clement’s Island and Piney Point Museums raise funds to support historical interpretation, education programs and special needs of the sites managed by the Museum Division of St. Mary’s County Department of Recreation and Parks. The Friends organization is a 501(c) 3 organization sponsoring events, assisting with acquisitions and supporting efforts to broaden the understanding of our culture and community’s heritage. For more information, visit Museums.StMarysMD.com.