With thanks to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over the last several years, The Ocean Project has been helping our partner zoos, aquariums, and museums (ZAMs) advance conservation action.
Most recently, NOAA Education has funded the first year of a three-year project that will allow The Ocean Project to invest in supporting innovators in the community (the grant this year stipulated that Innovative Solutions grants only be given to AZA-accredited aquariums; our hope in the future is that this grants program will become open to our other institutional partners - e.g. zoos and museums). The plan is for this Grants+ Program to build on what we learned from our small grants program over the last few years and provide our partners with the resources and strategic communications services to do more for ocean and climate conservation and will empower them to succeed in their role as trusted messengers for conservation solutions.
We’re referring to this program as the Grants+ Program because it involves much more than just financial resources. With each grant, The Ocean Project provides financial resources for our partner aquariums to develop innovative local and regional ocean conservation solutions and stewardship initiatives, specifically targeting youth and minorities. We plan to maximize the benefit of each grant by including strategic communications capacity building opportunities for the awardees, including strategic and technical resources and expertise to more effectively engage their visitors. We will also work with each grantee to help accelerate peer-to-peer learning and widely share resulting new strategies and successes with the wider community, especially our growing partner network of 2,000 ZAMs and other conservation and education organizations in all 50 states and worldwide.
Additionally, we’re also seeking to leverage this funding to expand the program and happy to work on joint fundraising opportunities with interested partners, including awardees to expand on their innovative projects and/or runner-ups for awards.
Thank you to all who applied for a grant from The Ocean Project’s Innovative Solutions Grants+ Program. For this first round of the Innovative Solutions Grants+ Program, we had a very competitive pool of applicants from the aquarium community. Our Advisory Panel had a challenging time deciding on the award winners.
We are pleased to announce the following grant recipients:
- New England Aquarium: Awarded $17,500 for "New England Aquarium ClimaTEENS Community-wide Solutions." The ClimaTEENS project will help 40 teens provide climate change workshops and presentations for peers focusing on community-wide solutions. The teens will complete in-depth training and develop materials with help from staff experts in climate science and interpretation.
- North Carolina Aquarium Society: Awarded $16,000 for "Promoting Renewable Energy Certificates at the NC Aquariums." Their three aquariums and an educational pier facility will develop, deliver, and evaluate new and effective conservation messages that will encourage their visitors to take immediate conservation action by purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) for their homes. In turn, for each REC purchased by a visitor, the respective site will receive a REC matched by Greenlight Energy. Each site will take an individual approach to messaging and delivery so that they can evaluate the methods and messages that are most effective based on how many visitors sign up at each location.
- Oregon Coast Aquarium: Awarded $20,000 for “Empowering Youth to Inspire Social Change: An Ocean Acidification Social Marketing Campaign.” Their youth volunteers will create and implement a pilot social marketing campaign targeting youth. The campaign will raise awareness in communities being impacted by ocean acidification; identify and then ask youth to adopt a new behavior to minimize ocean acidification; and provide incentives to encourage and measure the adoption of the identified behavior.
The Ocean Project looks forward to working with all our partners in 2014 and beyond, to help our partner ZAMs communicate strategically for conservation action, outcomes, and impact. Also, we will be releasing another RFP at some point in 2014 so watch the blog and our website for further information.