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

  • 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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  • ISG+ New Project: 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 first 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. Some might […]

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  • ISG+ New Project: Zoo ALIVE Teen Volunteers at the Saint Louis Zoo say #ByetoBags … and ask that you do too!

    This guest post is submitted by Kirinne Slaughter at the Saint Louis Zoo, and is the first in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project. Building on the Better Bag Challenge Zoo ALIVE teen volunteer For more than a decade, the Zoo ALIVE (Active Leaders In Volunteer Education) Teen Volunteers at the Saint Louis Zoo […]

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  • ISG+ New Project: 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 first 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 Hispanic communities near […]

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  • ISG+ Final Report: Survey Says… ZooTeens at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden spur visitors to action!

    This guest post by Director of Education, Elizabeth Clemens, and Coordinator of ZooTeens and Scout Programs, Syndi Castelluccio, of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is their final in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project, which investigates how engaging with teens and receiving incentives can impact zoo guest behavior. Sailing Along… The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden’s ZooTeen volunteers […]

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  • ISG+ Final Report: Seattle Youth CAN works to combat climate change

    This guest post by Eli Weiss of Woodland Park Zoo is the third 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. What we have to celebrate As we wrap up our first year with […]

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  • ISG+ Update: Will Philadelphia Zoo guests save energy to save “Nemo”?

    This guest post by Wei Ying Wong of Philadelphia Zoo is the second in a 3-part series 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.   Hi!  Welcome to our coral reef exhibit. Are there […]

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  • 10 ways your zoo or aquarium can reduce plastic use

    There is growing public awareness about the troubling accumulation of plastics in the environment, particularly in the oceans. Luckily, we are in a unique position to turn the tides on plastic use and disposal. Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited institutions are trusted conservation organizations with millions of visitors annually. We can lead by example […]

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  • Congrats! New Innovative Solutions Grants+ awardees announced

    For over 18 years, The Ocean Project has been advancing conservation in partnership with zoos, aquariums, museums, and other visitor-serving organizations around the country and the world. We’ve provided strategic resources and tools to help our network of partners effectively engage visitors, both onsite and online so that together we can solve issues in our backyards […]

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  • ISG+ Update: Teens at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden get their hands dirty

    This guest post, by Director of Education Elizabeth Clemens and Coordinator of ZooTeens and Scout Programs Syndi Castelluccio, from Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is the second in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project, which investigates how engaging with teens and receiving incentives can impact zoo guest behavior. The Adventure Continues As reported in […]

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