Underrecognized California

A Program to Support Inclusive Historic Designations

This program is made possible by generous funding from Stephen and Sherry Schafer and Liz’s Antique Hardware. 

According to a 2020 Congressional Research Service study, less than 8% of roughly 86,000 sites included on the National Register were associated with African American, American Latino, Asian American, American Indian, and other Indigenous communities.

Underrecognized California: A Program to Encourage Inclusive Historic Designations

This program recognizes and protects historic resources associated with underrecognized histories and historic sites in California. This program also employs students in historic preservation to work directly on the nomination of the chosen site. The students are employed as interns with experienced firms and consultants and paid through grant funds and 100% of the grant funds go directly to paying the student. This year, we are accepting site nominations from the entire state of California at all proposed levels of designation, including local, state, and national register nominations. Preference will be given to site nominations for state or national designation.  

Program Priorities. This matching program promotes the formal listing of publicly accessible historic places by connecting a diverse and underrecognized community structure in need of documentation with a paid student employee of CPF to research, write, and submit a landmark nomination. 

What is the Need?

Who should apply. Advocates, site managers, or site owners interested in designating an underrecognized historic site. Examples of underrecognized sites could include (but are not limited to) historic places associated with American Hispanic/Latinx, Native American, African American, Indigenous, and Asian American communities.

What Needs Does this Program Address? This program addresses the dual needs of both communities and students representing diverse communities by funding historic designations that recognize underrecognized communities and their untold stories.

Who Benefits? Our endeavor is aimed at changing the course of a young professional’s life and leading significant cultural resources into a successful stewardship model. The benefits to the community at large include a more holistic and integrated approach to the preservation, restoration, and interpretation of sites that represent the history of people from all levels of the economic ladder and all cultural backgrounds. The immediate effect of the project serves the stewards and owners of the built resource as well as the employed student. However, studies have shown that significant buildings in diverse communities can impact the success or failure of the community at large. For example, 75% of people who visit a church are not members of the congregation. This “economic halo” extrapolates to impact the people who walk through the neighborhood, who live down the street, and who experience the building from their cars.

Applicant Information

Applicants. The program is open to community groups, building or site owners or managers, non-profit organizations, and individuals who want to pursue historic designation of their sacred site, community building, or other public structure such as a school or library. There are no limitations on the type of site or ownership; however, only applications that have express owner consent or do not require owner consent for nomination will be considered. 

Sites can qualify if historically significant at the local, regional/state, or national level. Preference will be given to sites of state or national significance, though local nominations will also be considered.  

Students enrolled in in a historic preservation, urban planning, public history, architectural history, or related fields will be chosen to complete the nomination under the supervision of a firm or consultant selected by the California Preservation Foundation. Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of CPF Trustees as well as colleagues from the field of historic preservation and architecture in California.

Diverse Student Employment. One student selected for the program will have their work funded through the Underrecognized California grant, which will be distributed to the student by the firm. The position may be completed either remotely, or on-site at the selected firm’s offices.

Timeline & Deadlines

Applications will be accepted on an annual basis and reviewed by a selection committee composed of CPF Trustees as well as colleagues from the field of historic preservation and architecture in California.


  • January 11, 2024: Application Opens
  • Friday, April 12, 2024: Application Deadline
  • Mid-April: Announcement of Grant Recipient
  • June – October 2024: Research and writing of nomination
  • November 2024: Submittal of draft nomination to review agency
Contact Us for More Information


For more information, please visit our website at californiapreservation.org, email cpf@californiapreservation.org, or contact us at 415-495-0349.

Site Application

Due on April 12th, 2024. 

Underrecognized California - Part 1 Application

Underrecognized California - Part 1 - Applicant and Site Details

Address of Property Being Nominated
Address of Property Being Nominated
What Type of Designation are you Pursuing for this Property

Owner Consent

Who is the owner of the site/building/structure?
Is Owner Consent Required for this Nomination?
Owner Name
Owner Name
Owner First Name
Owner Last Name

Volunteers and Community

Do you have any volunteers that can contribute to the advocacy effort, documentation, or research?
Do you have a community liaison or local representative, available to participate in meetings, public hearings, and other phone calls to complete the designation?
Pleasure ensure that your photographs capture all or most angles of the building, including front, side, rear elevations.