The Dunes Center in Guadalupe will soon make its collections and educational programs available online, thanks to support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

For the highly competitive NEH CARES grant category, the Humanities Endowment received some 2,300 eligible applications from cultural organizations requesting more than $370 million in funding for projects between June and December 2020. About 14 percent of the applicants were funded.

The 317 grants will allow cultural organizations to retain staff to preserve and curate humanities collections, advance humanities research, and maintain buildings and core operations.

“I’m proud to say that the Dunes Center pivoted as soon as the shelter-at-home orders were put into place,” said executive director Doug Jenzen. “We realized that we would need to talk to parents and teachers to find out exactly what the community needed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Once we informally surveyed our constituents, we began creating daily activities that families could complete in the safety of their home, backyard or neighborhood. The Dunes Center’s staff really rallied behind this task.

“It is an honor to be acknowledged by the National Endowment for the Humanities, particularly since it is such a competitive grant process, and this is the one and only time we have applied for funding from the agency.”

The Dunes Center has released multiple activities on social media on a weekly basis, the most popular being a COVID-19 time capsule that provided parents a way to discuss the virus with their children, as well as activities such as a backyard scavenger hunt and instructions for building a plant press to preserve local flora.

The organization’s first online event will take place live at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 9, via Zoom and Facebook.

The Dunes Center is also in the process of migrating the museum’s collection to a cloud-based platform so researchers and learners can access information from anywhere there is internet.

The collection includes the Olivier Fourie research library that houses documents, books, articles, and journals relating to local natural and cultural phenomenon; rare plant specimens collected by the late Kathleen Goddard Jones; objects representing the Central Coast’s unique natural history; and artifacts excavated from the site where Cecil B. DeMille filmed “The Ten Commandments” in 1923.

“Funding from the NEH will allow the Dunes Center to continue the vital work of making our programming online during a period in which students and families need support the most,” said Karen Evangelista, Dunes Center Board president.

The Dunes Center is a natural history museum that works to conserve the unique ecosystem of the local dunes through education, research, and cooperative stewardship. Known for its display of artifacts from “The Ten Commandments,” the Dunes Center also offers a variety of guided community hikes, classroom education programs, and nature field trips. For more, visit

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. For more about the NEH and its grant programs, visit

More about the NEH CARES Act grant recipients is at