The Innovative Solutions Grants+ Program

Leading the charge for innovation and conservation impact in the aquarium and zoo community

visitors at an aquarium

The Grants+ Program is an evolution of The Ocean Project’s efforts to help our partner organizations do more to effectively advance conservation action; it allows us to invest in community innovators by providing not only financial resources, but also free strategic communications services and evaluation help for stronger conservation impact. Thanks to funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), we award grants of up to $30,000 that also come with pro bono strategic communications coaching and technical expertise to catalyze peer-to-peer sharing and learning. While these grants are currently only available to US-based and AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos–due to stipulations from NOAA–we are currently seeking additional funding to provide opportunities for all our aquarium and zoo partners. Moreover, the lessons learned will benefit the aquarium and zoo community as a whole.

Note: We are not currently accepting applications. Please check back soon for updates concerning the next round of proposal submissions!

Why Aquariums and Zoos?

Aquariums and zoos are increasingly exploring opportunities to advance conservation by encouraging their guests to join them in taking action. The Ocean Project has supported our partner aquariums and zoos since 1997 with public opinion research, and other tools and resources aimed at understanding how we can effectively engage visitors and the public for conservation outcomes.

Public opinion research has shown that visitor interest in environmental issues tends to spike during a visit to an aquarium or zoo. Moreover, it tells us that visitors not only trust aquariums and zoos, but also appreciate when these institutions provide them with information about ways to help protect the animals and the environment. When considering the tens of millions of visitors to aquariums and zoos each year, there is a huge potential for conservation impact!

Updates from past grantees

Teens with Bags

Advice from the Innovators:  A summary of lessons learned in public engagement from year three of the Innovative Solutions Grants + Program (ISG+)

Our grantees from year three have completed their projects and submitted their final reports, which are filled with tips and lessons for other aquariums and zoos that share their interest in engaging visitors and advancing conservation.  Many thanks to NOAA for making these grants possible. Per your request, we’ve compiled this summary of the top […]

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Youth leaders on stage

ISG+ Final Report: Seattle Youth Climate Action Network is Looking Back and Planning Ahead!

This guest post by Eli Weiss of Woodland Park Zoo is the last in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project, exploring how teens in the Seattle area can empower each other and their peers for action on climate change. When the idea of Seattle Youth Climate Action Network was hatched in the fall […]

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Participants at Fini's Landing celebration of World Oceans Day

ISG+ Final Report: Tasting Success at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

This guest post is submitted by Debbie Colodner, Director of Conservation Education and Science from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and is the last in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project where they partnered with Leading for Good to see if they can move the needle on sustainable seafood in Tucson, Arizona. With Tasting […]

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TAYR Youth Group at a debris cleanup at Masonville Cove

ISG+ Final Report: Connecting Ocean Conservation and Community Engagement at the National Aquarium

This guest post, by Gabrielle Roffe and Curtis Bennett of the National Aquarium’s Conservation Department is the last in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project. This project has addressed the issue of marine debris by implementing a new approach to community engagement, with a specific focus on building our connection with the Hispanic communities near […]

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Teens working Shark Week

ISG+ Final Report: Say #byetobags with the Saint Louis Zoo!

This guest post is submitted by Kirinne Slaughter at the Saint Louis Zoo, and is the last in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project. It is hard to believe that it has been almost a year since we began our partnership with The Ocean Project under the Innovative Solutions Grants+ Program. It has […]

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WODmedia

ISG+ Update: Tasting Sustainability at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

This guest post is submitted by Debbie Colodner, Director of Conservation Education and Science from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and is the second in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project where they are partnered with Leading for Good to see if they can move the needle on sustainable seafood in Tucson, Arizona. As […]

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flyer PROOF

ISG+ Update: Zoo-Alive teen volunteers at the Saint Louis Zoo take the #byetobags pledge and spread the word!

This guest post is submitted by Kirinne Slaughter at the Saint Louis Zoo, and is the second in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project. Since our last post, our Zoo ALIVE (ZA) teen volunteers have been hard at work helping Zoo visitors say #byetobags! Successfully building on the lessons learned from the […]

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Peoples Climate March

ISG+ Midterm Report: Woodland Park Zoo teens inspire peers to take a stand on climate change

This guest post by Eli Weiss of Woodland Park Zoo is the 2nd in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project, exploring how teens in the Seattle area can empower each other and their peers for action on climate change. In 2016 our focus for Seattle Youth Climate Action Network has been to […]

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TAYR congregation members clean the streets of Brooklyn, Baltimore-min

ISG+ update: Connecting Ocean Conservation and Community Engagement at the National Aquarium

This guest post, by Gabrielle Roffe and Curtis Bennett of the National Aquarium’s Conservation Department is the second in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project. This project will be addressing the issue of marine debris by implementing a new approach to community engagement, with a specific focus on building our connection with the […]

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ISG + Update: Philadelphia Zoo’s energy study goes live!

This guest post by Wei Ying Wong of Philadelphia Zoo is a follow up to the previous blog on Philadelphia Zoo’s Innovative Solutions Grants+ project. They’re exploring a new way of evaluating long-term conservation behavior change, specifically home energy use, in visitors to the zoo’s KidZooU exhibit. We’re live! As a quick addition, we are pleased […]

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