The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of NEH CARES. NEH awarded $40.3 million in grants to more than 300 cultural institutions across all 50 states and the Distrcit of Columbia to support essential services, staff and programs.

“Over the past few months, we have witnessed tremendous financial distress at cultural organizations across the country, which have been compelled to furlough staff, cancel programs, and reduce operations to make up for revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic,” said NEH chairman Jon Parrish Peede.

“NEH is pleased to provide $40 million to preserve thousands of jobs at museums, archives, historic sites, and colleges and universities that are vital to our nation’s cultural life and economy,” he said.

SBTHP’s $29,634 grant will fund the second iteration of its new, annual school program Where We Are From (WWAF).

In partnership with Santa Barbara Junior High School (SBJHS) and UCSB’s History Department, WWAF is a multi-week, cross-disciplinary, interactive program held at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. It reaches some 400 seventh-graders and their families.

The program involves hands-on, multimedia and digital learning activities utilizing the park’s historical resources and digital learning platforms.The grant will allow SBTHP to hire four graduate students from UCSB’s History Department as project consultants and co-facilitators.

The program’s goal is to “build a sense of community amongst the students as well as stoke their interest in the human story while cultivating their own,” said Kristin Martinez-Pettit, SBJHS history teacher.

SBJHS Principal Lito M. García said the positive effects of the program on his students have revealed the “importance of collaborating with a local organization to enhance our students’ understanding of their city, their home.”

The NEH CARES grant will also allow SBTHP to adapt the program for new modes of learning designed for remote access. “As we have entered new ways of educating our youth beyond the school site, the need for access to digital platforms and devices is greater than ever,” Garcia said. “Where We Are From must continue for several reasons.

“One, the educational value of research, reading, writing and speaking. Two, the intrinsic value of knowing more about the community you live in. Three, the need to have access to and the ability to learn remotely.”

For the highly competitive NEH CARES grant category, NEH received more than 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.

For more about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs, visit SBTHP is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; learn more at