The J.M. Kaplan Fund announced today the results of its nationwide search to identify ten exceptionally catalytic social and environmental change initiatives. Preservation Maryland Executive Director Nicholas Redding was selected for his work in launching The Campaign for Historic Trades.

The J.M.K. Innovation Prize is awarded biennially to ten non-profit and mission-driven for-profit organizations tackling America’s most pressing challenges through social innovation – defined as those pilot projects, new organizations or nascent initiatives that involve a certain amount of measured risk but which may ultimately lead to large-scale, transformative results.  Each awardee receives up to $175,000 over three years and participates in a learning collaborative of fellow innovators to support their journey as change agents.

One of the ten awardees – The Campaign for Historic Trades – is based in Maryland, aims to expand nationwide, and offers a potential new model for the heritage conservation field.

“To historic conservation leaders across the nation, we urge you to examine the work of this innovator,” said Peter Davidson, Chairman of The J.M. Kaplan Fund Board of Trustees. “All ten awardees show incredible promise, and we believe this innovator focusing on historic conservation could not only have tremendous impact in its community, but offer lessons for the larger field.”

With the Fund’s new report analyzing innovation trends ascertained through the process – along with an open call to funders to view the proposals of innovators in their own communities and program areas – The J.M. Kaplan Fund aims to highlight innovation in parts of America that don’t get enough resources.

“Innovators are hard at work across America, and we can’t wait to share their pathbreaking ideas,” said Amy L. Freitag, Executive Director of The J.M. Kaplan Fund.  “Since we launched The J.M.K. Innovation Prize in 2015, we have been able to provide 30 early-stage initiatives with crucial financial and capacity-building resources, and shine a spotlight on innovators beyond our awardees who may have huge potential.”

About the Campaign for Historic Trades

Cohort of Apprentices at the Historic Preservation Training Center, 2019.

Cohort of Apprentices at the Historic Preservation Training Center, 2019.

Preservation Maryland’s Campaign for Historic Trades is training a diverse new generation of tradespeople to help restore and revitalize America’s communities, and, through an innovative partnership with the National Park Service, scaling a powerful apprenticeship program to a nationwide audience.

“In our expanding initiative, cohorts of young adults and recently returning veterans are trained under the watchful eye of the 70+ master craftspeople at the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center,” said Nicholas Redding, the executive director of Preservation Maryland and the founder of the Campaign. “On-the-job training of the apprentices takes place at historic sites in America’s national parks.”

“Rather than creating new infrastructure and resources, this initiative is tapping into and refining existing ones. The benefit to the trainees is strong, as they get to apprentice into a rewarding career where ideally a job exists for them at the end of their studies,” said one of the Prize reviewers, Jose Galarza, Director of the DesignBuildBLUFF in the University of Utah’s College of Architecture + Planning.

Another Prize reviewer, Theresa Pasqual, Native American Liaison-Glen Canyon for the U.S. Department of Interior said, “Investing in this long term cultivation of tradespeople would not only address the issue of heritage preservation, but also of economics, education, inclusion, and diversity.”

“As an 88-year-old organization, Preservation Maryland fights against the ‘we know what you are’ perception that we’re not about innovation,” said Redding. “We are showing that cultural preservation can be about social innovation. I could be doing twice the amount of work we currently are if I had the trained people to do it.”

Learn more about The Campaign for Historic Trades

List of all ten 2019 J.M.K Innovation Prize 

Open Call to Maryland Funders to Connect with Innovators

For the first time, The J.M. Kaplan Fund is opening up its database of applications to funders across the nation and around the world, inviting them to tap into the innovative ideas and individuals that may spring from their own communities or be related to their program interests. There are 1,300+ innovative ideas from this round that have considerable merit, and the Fund is eager to help connect them with resources and opportunities.

Funders interested in receiving additional information about innovators in their communities and program areas should contact: Justin Goldbach, Program Director, The J.M.K. Innovation Prize,

In the coming months, The J.M. Kaplan Fund will also be holding a series of webinars for funders interested in learning about innovations in each program area. Funders interested in joining those conversations should also contact Justin Goldbach.

About The J.M. Kaplan Fund

Established in 1945 by philanthropist and businessman Jacob Merrill Kaplan, the Fund has since its inception been committed to visionary innovation. Over its 72-year history, the Fund has devoted $250 million to propel fledgling efforts concerning civil liberties, human rights, the arts, and the conservation and enhancement of the built and natural worlds. The J.M.K. Innovation Prize continues the Fund’s legacy of catalytic giving, reaching across America to provide early-stage support for entrepreneurs with twenty-first-century solutions to urgent social and environmental challenges.