CUMBERLAND — The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority has made a substantial change to matching fund requirements, eliminating the longstanding 75% cash match requirement for all grants. Instead, MHAA will accept any combination of cash and in-kind match to fulfill the one-to-one matching requirement.

Organizations are permitted to match MHAA grants with primarily volunteer time and donated services and materials if that form of match makes sense for the proposed project.

MHAA staff and the local heritage areas hope that the change will foster a more diverse pool of grant applicants and more equitable grant making to organizations that are rich in community support but have limited access to cash. The next MHAA grant round will open in January 2021.

“This requirement change could potentially be a game changer for many of our small organizations who previously were unable to apply for funding through our heritage area,” said Kim Folk, director for the Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area in Garrett County. “We are excited to see new heritage- related projects come to the table with this change.”

The change follows feedback from constituents and public input in PreserveMaryland II, the statewide preservation plan, which recommends that the state’s financial incentive programs “evaluate barriers to access … and improve equity in outcomes.”

MHAA will offer workshops for grant applicants in December and January. For more information, visit https://mht.maryland.gov/ heritageareas.shtml.

Questions about the program and grant eligibility can be directed to MHAA Administrator Jen Ruffner at jen.ruffner@maryland.gov and Assistant Administrators Andrew Arvizu, andrew.arvizu@maryalnd.gov, and Ennis Smith, ennis.smith@maryland.gov.