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: Seattle youth CAN engage their peers on transportation

    This guest post by Eli Weiss of Woodland Park Zoo is the second 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. Woodland Park Zoo, along with our partners the Seattle Aquarium and Pacific Science […]

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  • ISG+ Update: A Collaborative Approach to Community Engagement at the Florida Aquarium

    This guest post, by VP of Education Debbi Stone at Florida Aquarium, is the second in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project. The Aquarium’s project asks “Can we gain valuable insights about how to engage an underrepresented audience by working together to design the approach?” Click here to read the previous post […]

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  • ISG+ Final Report: What we learned at the Oregon Coast Aquarium

    This guest post by Teresa Mealy of Oregon Coast Aquarium is the final update on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project, which put teens in the driver’s seat of a peer-targeted conservation campaign! Thank you and congrats to Teresa, Kerry Carlin-Morgan, and everyone at the Aquarium for your great work. Letting youth lead the way  The […]

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  • ISG+ New Project: Florida Aquarium investigates a co-designed ‘ask’ for engagement

    This guest post, by VP of Education Debbi Stone at Florida Aquarium is the first in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project. The Aquarium’s project asks “Can we gain valuable insights about how to engage an underrepresented audience by working together to design the approach?” The Ask As a mission-based institution committed […]

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  • ISG+ New Project: Teens at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden take action “all the way to the ocean”

    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 first 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. Teen S.O.S. The Riverbanks Zoo and […]

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  • ISG+ Final Report: What we learned at the New England Aquarium

    This guest post by Heather Deschenes of New England Aquarium, the final in a 3-part series on the aquarium’s Innovative Solutions Grants+ project, is a look at what the aquarium learned from their efforts. Thank you to Heather and everyone who helped at the aquarium for your hard work! The Ocean Project’s Innovative Solutions grant enabled […]

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  • ISG+ New Project: Philadelphia Zoo asks, “Can an exhibit change visitor behavior at home?”

    This guest post by Wei Ying Wong of Philadelphia Zoo is the first 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. As a conservation institution, the Philadelphia Zoo is committed […]

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  • ISG+ Final Report: What we learned at the NC Aquariums

    This guest post by Windy Arey-Kent of NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is the final in a 3-part series on NC Aquariums’ Innovative Solutions Grants+ project, aimed at testing different approaches to engaging guests for conservation action at aquariums. This blog post is a look at what NC Aquariums learned as a result of […]

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  • ISG+ New Project: Climate change action? Seattle youth CAN!

    This guest post by Eli Weiss of Woodland Park Zoo is the first 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. The Path Forward At the Woodland Park Zoo, we have been working for […]

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  • ISG+ Update: NEAq ClimaTeens in the public spotlight for a green future

    This guest post by Sylvia Scharf of New England Aquarium is the second in a 3-part series on their Innovative Solutions Grants+ project, which investigates how teen ambassadors can make a difference for their city’s green future. The previous post presented the project, this is an update on what’s happened since. How do we engage […]

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