Promise Land Heritage Association
4324 Highway 48 N
Charlotte TN 37036-6256
Mission Statement
To preserve and interpret the Historic Promise Land Site for future generations and to implement interpretative programs specific to the Promise Land Community and the African American cultural experience in general.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Serina K. Gilbert
Board Chair Mr. Charles J. Elston
Board Chair Company Affiliation Dickson County School System
History & Background
Year of Incorporation 2007
Former Names
Promise Land Community Club
Organization's type of tax exempt status 501-C3
Financial Summary
Graph: Expense Breakdown Graph - All Years
Projected Expenses $31,350.00
Projected Annual Revenue 33300 (2019)
Mission To preserve and interpret the Historic Promise Land Site for future generations and to implement interpretative programs specific to the Promise Land Community and the African American cultural experience in general.
The Promise Land Heritage Association (PLHA) chartered in 1988 as the Promise Land Community Club.  It was the result of a need identified by a group of residents and former residents when they came together for a community reunion in 1986.  The group recognized that the two remaining icons of this community settled by African-Americans during the Reconstruction era was in serious disrepair.  The icons were the Promise Land School building which had been closed as a school since 1957 and the St. John United Methodist Church.  At the time the church still functioned as a church but the membership had diminished to only five women.  Built in the early 1880s, the school after closing was deeded back to the community by the Board of Education.  It had served as a community center.  As the children of the community grew up and moved away and the husbands of the women left in the community had died, there was little use for the school building accept for the infrequent reunions. 
     The mission of the PLHA was to restore the buildings and to preserve the history and legacy of the community.  Restoration efforts consisted of repairing the roof of the building, other minor repairs and painting the interior and exterior of the building.  However the building remained structurally in disrepair.  In 1993, the PLHA was successful in getting a state marker recognizing the significance of the community placed on the grounds of the church.  Following this it seemed that the efforts to revitalized the community seemed to wane for a period of a few years.  In 2000, the PLHA organized and planned the first Annual Community Festival.  This was a reunion event but more importantly it was an attempt to raise public awareness of the historic significance of the community and to enlist the support of the wider community of Dickson County. 
     In 2004, the PLHA was reorganized and membership eligibility is opened the public.  In 2006, a Board of Directors was established.  In 2007, the PLCC became a 501c-3 organization.  That same year, the school building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and  major restoration of the building was undertaken.  A Dickson County architect designed a plan for restoration with an estimated cost.  A federal grant was applied for but was denied.  Restoration has been funded primarily from membership dues, donations, and fundraising.  The restoration is 85% complete at a cost of $21,950.
  1. Accomplishments:
    Successfully hosted 2016 Annual Festival June 3-4.  Grossed $10.000 with over 600 people attending 
  2. Hosted traveling exhibition entitled  "Emancipation and its Legacies", sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History from September 6 to October 4, 2016.  512 visitors saw the exhibit and attended special related programming.
  3. Awarded a matching grant of $1,200 from Tennessee Art Commission for the 2017 Annual Festival.  
  4. Promised an additional $4,000 in corporate grants for 2017 Festival programs  
  5. Partnership with Humanities Tennessee continues to support and offer special events at the site. 
  6. Organized and presented three Black History Month programs at the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum.
  7. Received scholarships from Humanities Tennessee that allowed two members of the PLHA to attend the 2017 Tennessee Association of Museum Conference.
  8. Received $1,005 in online campaign sponsored by Network for Good held November and December 2016 and
  9. Received $245 in the 2016 Big Payback online campaign. 


  1. Increase visitations to site by 10% over the previous year;
  2. Acquire grant funding for 4 days of special programming for "Field Days for Dickson County Eighth Grade Students"
  3. Recieve funding from Tennessee Arts Commission and local corporations for 2017 Festival.
  4. Increase revenue gain by allowing external groups, organizations and individuals to use site facilities for meetings, retreats, etc. and
  5. Continue to build media center's collection of books, films and periodicals for onsite use by the public.
  6. Raise funds for maintenance, improvement and repairs of site structures.
  7. Repair roof and install gutters on historic building




1.  Repair of the roof of historic building at a cost of $6,000

2.  Placement of gutters on historic school building at cost of $1,500
3.  Replace rotten siding on front of historic school building estimated at $500
4.  Replace aluminum siding on historic church building estimated  at $2,000
5.  Repair of floors in the historic building at an estimated cost of $2,500 
6.  Increase in volunteers assist with tours and clerical duties  


Other ways to donate, support, or volunteer Financial donations are welcomed and may be mailed to our P.O. address.  There are volunteer opportunities for anyone 18 years old and older.  To volunteer call (615) 789-5859.
Service Categories
Primary Organization Category Arts,Culture & Humanities / Cultural & Ethnic Awareness
Secondary Organization Category Human Services /
Areas of Service
Areas Served
TN - Dickson
The PLHA is located in Dickson County in the City of Charlotte.  The primary zip codes served include the following:  37036, 37051, 37055 and 37056.
Board Chair Statement
It is a privilege to serve as Chairman of the inaugural 15 member Board of Directors of the PLHA.  As a descendant of original settlers and as a former resident of the community, I am honored, yet humbled to serve.  Like most organizations the PLHA has it's challenges and successes.
Among the organizations successes are the following:  listing of the Promise Land School building on the Nationl Register of Historic Places;  installation of a Civil War Trails Marker in the community, recognizing it's significance during this era in history;  planning and executing 10 successful annual festivals (these festivals have become a popular county event gaining support of many county and state agencies, businesses and organizations);  acquiring a 20X70 modular classroom building to be used as an onsite expansion facility;  and the near completion of the restoration of the historic school building.
With the accomplishments our organization has also faced challenges.  While we have had success in gaining federal, state and corporate support for programs like the festival, we have not been as successful in receiving grant support for the restoration project.  Major restoration of the school began in 2007.  Funding for this project has come primarily from membership dues and gifts as well as donations and private contributions.  Due to lack of funds we have periodically had to discontinue work while we replenished our treasury.  This has prolonged restoration of the property.
PLHA membership fluctuate from year to year between 15 to 55 members.  The dues are $25 per year.  Adult Board members are required to pay an annual minimum assessment of $100.  Most pay more than the minimum.  In 2010, the Membership Committee established a life membership category of $500.  To date 30  have become life members.   Membership giving is exceptional especially so when it comes to in-kind and volunteer services.  However, we are concerned that membership retention and recruitment is not precluded by our financial needs.
This leads to the challenge of  member retention as well as diversity.  The charter members of the PLHA were descendants of original settlers of the community.  Membership eligibility has evolved to include the general public.  Currently, only 5% of the members are Caucasian.  Fewer fall in the age range of 15 to 30 years of age.  We have put a number of activities in place to increase diversity.
There is a membership booth set up at the very public annual festival where information and application are made available.  We have had some success in recruitment at the festival and we will be working  to make our festival exhibit more visible.  Our official brochure also include membership information.  For youth recruitment we have instituted the Annual Youth Day; art enrichment program;  The Promise Land Heritage Award recognizes youth between the ages of 13 to 19 and are descendants of original settlers, for outstanding achievements;  and we offer reduced dues and Board representation of youth members.
Based on our past successes and accomplishments, we will continue to move forward and approach challenges with optimism.  We look forward to meeting our goals as well as, to further growth and development of the PLHA  
CEO Statement
In addition to historic preservation, the PLHA offers educational and cultural enrichment programs for the public.  We partner with Humanities Tennessee, Tennessee State Museums; Smithsonian Institute; Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History; area colleges and universities to bring scholars, authors and exhibitions to our rural community to offer enriching conversations and education.  We also offer programs relative to African-American history for elementary and high school students.  This includes custom designed tours and activities which match the Tennessee educational standards for the study of slavery, emancipation and reconstruction.  The PLHA also offers programs to support the educational endeavors of youth through our partnership with the Community Resource Center, a non-profit charitable program the provides bookbags, school supplies and clothing.
     We encourage youth involvement with the historic site by including their participation as performers, volunteers and spectators in events such as the annual festival.  We have hosted art workshops and video nights at the site designed specifically for youth.     
     The Promise Land Festival help to further our community service objectives.  Free health screening and information are offered by participating health organizations.  In addition to this, the PLHA has worked with the Health Department in coordinating a site for Flu shots for residents of the North end of the county; provided gifts to area nursing home residents; provided assistance to individual faced with financial or health crisis; provided textbook stipends for college students; participated in the Dickson County ACS Chapter's Annual Cancer Crusade and other such activities.
     Since 2010, the historic site has served the public as a museum which opened by appointment.  The historic school is restored to appear as it would have during the early 1900s.  It is appointed with furnishings as they would have been during that period in history with handmade wooden benches for students, handmade teacher's desk and blackboard.  Visitors are able to experience a living history tour.  This experience is enhanced by re-enactors who portrays early teachers and early community settlers.  Included in the tour is the nearby church, a Tennessee Historical Marker and a Civil War Trails Marker.  Each year the number of visitors to the site have grown.    
The Promise Land Festival held annually celebrates the heritage of this Charlotte community settled by African Americans during the Reconstruction Period.  The primary purpose of the event is to bring about awareness of the historical significance of the community and to foster support for it's preservation including the restoration and maintenance of the remaining community icons, the historic Promise Land School and Church.  The event is held on land surrounding the school and church buildings.  Festival include musical and dance performances; living history demonstrations and reenactments;  art and craft exhibits;  special recognitions;  health and fitness information booths;  silent auction; a parade of hats and a gospel concert.  There are a variety of food concessions and non-food vendors.
Budget 6400
Population Served , ,
The Promise Land Historic Site offer organized tours and field visits by appointment throughout the year.  In the past year 2015 to 2016 we have had 45 guided tours of the site.  We receive traveling exhibitions from organizations including the Smithsonian and Gilder Lehrman Institutes; Tennessee State Museum; and universities i.e. Middle Tennessee State and Tennessee State Universities.  These exhibitions help to attract visitors to our site and significantly boost traffic to the site.  We also host field trips for schools which often involves special programming i.e. contracting professional actors and re-enactors; hiring technical support for staging and sound; and rental of tents, portable toilets and extra equipment.
Budget 5000
Population Served , ,
The PLCC offers community social services which includes an annual giveaway of school supplies; distrubution of gifts (tolietries and personal items) to nursing home residents; and a maintenance supply closet to assist needy college students with items such as school supplies, toiletries and cleaning supplies.  The program is supported through a partnership with the Community Resource Center in Nashville and through special fundraising projects sponsored by the organization such as "The Parade of Hats for Healthy Hearts" a special festival event.  In addition to offering these tangible services, we offer public educational and cultural enriching programs through the showing of documentary films and discussions facilitated by humanities scholars.  In March 2015, the PLCC entered a partnership agreement with Humanities Tennessee so that we might expand these programs.
Budget 2500
Population Served , ,
CEO Comments
The Promise Land Community Festival is the most widely known program of the PLHA.  This event receives much member, state and local involvement and support.  This has enabled its growth and expansion over the past sixteen years.  The PLHA has no paid staff.  One individual serving as Executive Director, volunteers time and personal resources as she works out of  her home office to provide managerial, administrative and organizational services for the PLHA.  The volunteer Executive Director coordinates all programs with the members, officer and Board for the PLHA including the festival.   It is estimated that nearly 5,240 hours are volunteered annually by PLHA members, friends and associates.  There nearly 360 volunteer hours are devoted during the festival. 
In addition, to volunteer services the festival is supported by a state grant and corporate support.  This makes it possible to implement the festival, however, the profits to the PLHA from this event is usually less than $6,000 after expenses.Proceeds from the festival go to support the maintenance and upkeep of the property and other projects. 
We appreciate the volunteer and in kind support received from the members and the community.  We believe that once the restoration is completed including set up of the expansion building; and the museum is opened to receiving groups and the expansion building becomes a community center opened to the public, this will provide and additional revenue for the PLHA.  We recognize that it will take some time before these facilities will generate enough funds to compensate staff.  However, we see this in the future.  We further believe that funding may be more available to programs (i.e. museum projects, etc.) than they are for building and expansion.  But until we reach this point we are greatly in need of financial support to get us to our vision.
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Charles J. Elston
Company Affiliation Dickson County School System
Term June 2014 to May 2020
Board Members
Ms. Tamara Alsaada Independent ConsultantVoting
Ms. Donzella Bowins RetiredVoting
Ms. Della G. Bryant RetiredVoting
Ms. Kimberly Castenelda Columbus School SystemVoting
Ms. Candi Driver Cheatham County SchoolsVoting
Ms. Patricia Dysard Community VolunteerVoting
Ms. Bernice Heard RetiredVoting
Ms. Kristy Hollinsworth Community VolunteerVoting
Mr. David Holt Community VolunteerVoting
Ms. Cassandra R. Jamison Community VolunteerVoting
Mr. John L. Primm ContractorVoting
Mr. Ervin L Robertson Jr.Community VolunteerVoting
Ms. Carrie Woods Community VolunteerVoting
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 12
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 2
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 6
Female 8
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 87%
Does the organization have written Board Selection Criteria? No
Does the organization have a written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage of Board Members making Monetary Contributions 87%
Percentage of Board Members making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Does the Board include Client Representation? Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 2
Board CoChair
Board CoChair Mr. David Holt
Company Affiliation Self-Employed
Term June 2013 to June 2020
Youth Board Members
Additional Boards: Youth Board Members
Additional Board Members
Ms. Della G. Bryant Community Volunteer
Dr. Sokoto Fulani Community Volunteer
CEO Comments The greatest challenge for the Executive Director is non-compensation for the work performed and not having funds available to compensate others to perform clerical and technical tasks.  Currently we address these challenges by enlisting volunteer assistance as they relate to managing and overseeing the operations of the organization.  When we are unable to acquire volunteers the Executive Director will pay out of pocket for assistance.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Ms. Serina K. Gilbert
Term Start Apr 2007
A graduate of the 2008 Dickson County Leadership Class, Ms. Gilbert earned a B.S. Degree in Social Administration from Tennessee State University, August 1968  and a Master of Social Work from Howard University, Washington, D.C., May 1980.  She has had over 35 years experience in the field of  Social Work and Human Services.  This diversified experience included clinical social work, administration, community organization and teaching.  She has worked as an independent consultant, establishing medical adult daycare centers from ground up;  as a clinical researcher at Howard University College of Medicine under a grant from the National Institutes of Health;  served as a social work clinician at hospitals and health department in New York City and Metropolitan D.C.;  served as Director of Social Work and Discharge Planning for Dimensions Health Care Systems in Prince George's County Maryland; and served as adjunct professor at Howard University School of Social Work and the University of Maryland School of Social Work at Baltimore and Baltimore County.  In 2003, she relocated back to her hometown in Charlotte, Tennessee where she immediately became involved in civic and community work.  She has served on the Board for United Way of Dickson;  Dickson County Health Council;  Dickson County Community Arts Development; and the Child Advocacy Center's Board of Directors.  In addition, she served on the Dickson County Heritage Book Committee and was a recipient of the 2008 Governor's Volunteer Star Award.
Full Time Staff 0
Part Time Staff 0
Volunteers 20
Contractors 0
Retention Rate 0%
Plans & Policies
Does the organization have a documented Fundraising Plan? No
Does the organization have an approved Strategic Plan? No
Number of years Strategic Plan Considers N/A
In case of a change in leadership, is a Management Succession plan in place? No
Does the organization have a Policies and Procedures Plan? No
Does the organization have a Nondiscrimination Policy? Yes
CEO Comments
Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year Start June 01 2018
Fiscal Year End May 31 2019
Projected Revenue $33,300.00
Projected Expenses $31,350.00
Endowment Spending Policy N/A
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$0$0$0
Administration Expense$0$0$0
Fundraising Expense$0$0$0
Payments to Affiliates----$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses------
Program Expense/Total Expenses------
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue------
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$0$0$0
Current Assets$0$0$0
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$0$0$0
Total Net Assets$0$0$0
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets------
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201720162015
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
IRS Letter of Exemption
Capital Campaign
Is the organization currently conducting a Capital Campaign for an endowment or the purchase of a major asset? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No
State Charitable Solicitations Permit
TN Charitable Solicitations Registration Exempt - Expires
Organization Comments
Please see the Executive Director's and Board Chairman's statements. Financial Comments

This organization filed a 990-N form with the IRS, which does not provide specific financial information. Most small tax-exempt organizations whose annual gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less ($25,000 for tax years ending after December 31, 2007 and before December 31, 2010) are required to electronically submit Form 990-N, also known as the e-Postcard, unless they choose to file a complete Form 990 or Form 990-EZ instead.

Comments provided by Kathryn Bennett 7/2/18
Nonprofit Promise Land Heritage Association
Address 4324 Highway 48 N
Charlotte, TN 37036 6256
Primary Phone (615) 789-5859
Contact Email
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Serina K. Gilbert
Board Chair Mr. Charles J. Elston
Board Chair Company Affiliation Dickson County School System
Year of Incorporation 2007
Former Names
Promise Land Community Club

Related Information

Cultural and Ethnic Diversity

The United States stands out among nations as a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. Demographers predict that by 2050, no single majority group will exist in the United States. Diversity is a key part of Middle Tennessee’s past, present and future. Nashville, especially, is a model of the American "melting pot," with an active Native American population, thriving Hispanic community and growing Middle Eastern and Asian presence. Different cultures, religions, ideas and customs come together harmoniously in Music City.