The Innovative Solutions Grants+ Program (active 2010-2015)

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

visitors at an aquarium

Please note: The funding from NOAA for this innovative and effective program is no longer available due to congressional action several years ago that cut the budget for environmental and ocean literacy. We have great proof of concept from working with aquarium and zoo awardees and look forward to resurrecting this program in some capacity in the future.

The Grants+ Program evolved from The Ocean Project’s efforts to help our partner organizations (e.g., zoos, aquariums, and museums) to more effectively advance conservation action by engaging minorities and youth; it allowed 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 awarded approximately $400,000 in grants of up to $30,000 that also came with pro bono strategic communications coaching and technical expertise to catalyze peer-to-peer sharing and learning. While these grants were only available to US-based and AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos–due to stipulations from NOAA–the lessons learned continue to benefit the aquarium and zoo community as a whole, both in the U.S. and throughout the world. In addition to the links below, you can read about more recent examples on our blog.

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, the public, and policymakers 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 expect and appreciate information from them about ways to help protect the animals and the environment. When considering the hundreds of millions of visitors to aquariums and zoos each year, there is a huge potential for conservation impact!

Please see our latest collaborative work for effective visitor engagement, including a focus on conservation policy for the last several years.

Updates from past grantees