Choosing the Right Preservation Grant for Your Project: PAG and SCHC Grant Programs

December 12, 2023
Painting vault in retrofitted Ice House with racks made from lobster trap mesh at the Monhegan Historical and Cultural Museum
Photo caption

Painting vault in retrofitted Ice House with racks made from lobster trap mesh at the Monhegan Historical and Cultural Museum

Image by Adriana Cutler

The Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions (PAG) and the Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections (SCHC) grant programs both provide funding for preservation of cultural heritage collections. Which grant program is right for your institution? Let’s tease out some of the similarities and differences between the programs to help you decide.

Planning and implementing preventive care practices are a cornerstone of both programs. PAG is directed at small and mid-sized cultural heritage institutions that seek to build their capacity to preserve and care for their humanities collections at a foundational level. Awards are capped at $10,000, and projects often include a single consultant or small team of consultants that offer basic advice on caring for humanities collections, training for staff and volunteers, and/or implementing recommendations from a previous preservation assessment. The SCHC program is directed at institutions of any size that are looking to plan or implement larger, more complex projects and have environmental sustainability top of mind. The program has three levels of funding, Planning ($50,000), Implementation Level I ($100,000) and Implementation II ($350,000). SCHC projects should focus on preservation strategies that minimize risk and slow deterioration of collections using methods that reduce energy consumption and strengthen institutional resiliency in the face of a changing climate.

In both grant programs, depending on the needs of the collection, you might assess, study, develop, evaluate, or implement preventive care practices, lighting systems, climate control systems, storage and rehousing, security improvements, disaster protection, and passive systems for environmental control like creating microclimates. The main difference between the two programs, pertaining to these activities, is cost, scale, and level of planning. If you are a small or mid-sized institution and the project costs $10,000 or less, a PAG grant may be appropriate. If the cost of your project is over $10,000 you may consider an SCHC grant. SCHC projects also require a basic preservation assessment to have been completed to establish collection risks and care priorities.

To get started on collections preservation, a great strategy is to start with a PAG grant, which can support general preservation, collections, and conservation assessments, resulting in actionable plans and priorities for preventive care. After considering your priorities, your institution may then apply for an SCHC Planning grant to further develop preventive care actions resulting in plans and schematics for implementation. Alternatively, your institution may apply for an SCHC Level I Implementation grant, which funds smaller, more discrete projects based on recommendations from a preservation or conservation assessment. For example, a preservation assessment may indicate your collections environment needs improvement. You might then apply for an SCHC planning grant to assemble a multidisciplinary team to study the building envelope and HVAC systems, resulting in plans and schematics for tightening the building envelope for more efficient HVAC operation. It is not required to have a PAG grant before applying to SCHC nor is it required to have an SCHC Planning grant before applying for an SCHC Implementation II grant, but you must demonstrate that you have completed a preservation assessment for Level I and done interdisciplinary planning for Level II.

The two programs diverge in several ways as well. The PAG program also supports collections management activities, preservation assessments for both physical and digital collections, and education and training for staff and volunteers in preservation and collections management topics. SCHC funds a wide range of preventive care activities including planning for and implementing renewable energy systems, building envelope modifications, energy reduction strategies, disaster protection, and HVAC systems. Read the Notice of Funding Opportunity for each program to best understand the programs. Also, request a consultation with a program officer by emailing us at @email.  We are friendly and helpful and would love to speak with you!



SCHC Planning

SCHC Level I




Basic preservation or collections assessment and planning


Basic preservation or collections assessment and planning


Collaborative planning with a multidisciplinary team appropriate to the project

Cap $





Institution size

Small, Medium

Small, Medium, Large

Small, Medium

Small, Medium, Large


Improve preservation and management of collections

Develop and assess environmentally sustainable preventive care strategies in collection spaces

Implement environmentally sustainable preventive care projects that address specific, discrete preservation challenges

Implement environmentally sustainable preventive care projects that address large or multifaceted preservation challenges

PAG and SCHC Guide 1
PAG and SCHC Guide 2

This cart provides a summary of preservation activities fundable with PAG and SCHC. Visit the program websites for more information on each program.