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GrantEd Funds Historical Cemetery Stewardship

Updated: Nov 24, 2019

We receive dozens of grant requests each month and the potential classroom benefits are usually quite plain to see. In April this year, however, one request in particular really opened our eyes to how committed teachers are to reaching their students and imparting lessons in ways that will live with them forever.

Alysha Butler of McKinley Tech High School in ward 5 requested funds to enable the school's first historic preservation project for Mt. Zion Cemetery. The cemetery dates back to the mid-1800s and was initially for white, black, free, and enslaved residents of the District. The graves of white individuals were eventually moved next door to Dumbarton Oaks, and Mt. Zion Cemetery became overrun. Ms. Butler wanted to take over 40 student volunteers from her African American and U.S. History class to pay respect to those buried there by cleaning the grounds and installing a park bench with a memorial plaque.

Bench and memorial plaque installed at the cemetery by McKinley Tech High School

The students participated in a libation ceremony and got a chance to engage in a question and answer session with Vernon Hicks, an original graduating member of the first integrated class from McKinley Tech, who happened to be a member of the cemetery’s historic preservation board. They also got a chance to tour the area of the cemetery that was used as a stop on the Underground Railroad.

GrantEd was proud, to say the least, to supply the funds for the gardening gloves, bottled water, insect repellant, and cast bronze memorial plaque that helped Ms. Butler and her team realize this project.


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