Grantmaking

For nearly twenty years now, we have strived to bridge the gap between philanthropy – which has historically given the ocean only 7% of environmental grantmaking, and ultimately, less than 1% of all philanthropy – with the communities that need this funding for marine science and conservation the most. However, the ocean covers 71% of the planet. That doesn’t add up. The Ocean Foundation (TOF) was founded to help change that calculus.

Our Premise

We practice philanthropy, to carefully transfer financial support from donors to our grantees, and to put boundaries of reason on our own personal conduct. Foundation officers are the guardians of our donors. As the gatekeepers, we are responsible to safeguard the donors against fraud, but also to act as real stewards of this ocean planet, its creatures, great and small, including humankind who depend on the coasts and ocean. This is not an airy or overly ambitious concept, but is a never-ending task from which we of philanthropy can neither abdicate nor shrink.

We always remember the grantees are the ones doing the work on the water AND at the same time feeding their families and putting a roof over their head.

Person holding baby sea turtle on beach
Photo Credit: Women’s Association of Barra de Santiago (AMBAS)

Our Philosophy

We identify key threats to the coasts and ocean and apply a broad solutions oriented focus to address threats. This framework guides both our own initiatives and our external grantmaking.

We support projects and organizations that advance the field of marine conservation and invest in individuals and organizations with a unique, promising ability to address those threats. To identify potential grantees, we use a combination of objective and subjective evaluation methods.

We support multi-year giving whenever possible. Conserving the ocean is complicated and requires a long-term approach. We invest in individuals and organizations so that they can spend time on implementation, rather than on waiting for the next grant.

We practice “engaged, active philanthropy” to work with grantees as collaborative partners to improve effectiveness. We do not just give away money; we also serve as a resource, giving direction, focus, strategy, research and other advice and services as appropriate.

We foster coalition building and individuals and organizations that pursue their unique work within context of existing and emerging coalitions. For example, as a signatory to the Climate Strong Islands Declaration, we seek to support projects and organizations that increase technical support available to island communities to develop new initiatives, programs, and projects that help them respond effectively to the growing climate crisis and other environmental challenges. 

We recognize the need to promote ocean conservation at the local and regional level in many other parts of the world, and thus, more than 50 percent of our grantmaking is to support projects outside the USA. We strongly support science diplomacy, as well as cross-cultural and international knowledge sharing, capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology.

We strive to build and increase the capacity and effectiveness of the marine conservation community, in particular with those grantees who demonstrate a commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice in their proposals.  We’re incorporating a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice lens into all facets of our conservation work to ensure our work promotes equitable practices, supports those who share similar values, and helps others embed those values in their work and we want to continue this practice through our philanthropy.

Our average grant size is approximately $10,000 and we encourage applicants to demonstrate a diverse funding portfolio if possible. 

We do not support grants to religious organizations or for election campaigns. 

General Grantmaking

The Ocean Foundation offers both direct grants from our own funds and we also provide grantmaking services for individual, corporate and government donors, or for outside organizations seeking institutional support capacity.

As an international community foundation, TOF raises every dollar it spends. Grantmaking funds may come from (1) general unrestricted donations, (2) funder collaboratives–a related type of pooled fund which has a more structured governance mechanism, and/or (3) Donor Advised Funds. 

Letters of Inquiry are reviewed by our committee once per quarter.  Applicants will be notified of any invitation to submit a full proposal via email.  For each potential grantee, TOF undertakes detailed due diligence services, preliminary vetting, issues grant agreements, and administers all required grant reporting.

Request for proposals

All of our grantmaking is inherently donor-driven, therefore we do not maintain a generic open request for proposals, and instead we only solicit proposals for which we already have an interested donor in mind. While many of the individual funds we host accept solicitations by invitation only, some of them do on occasion have open RFPs. Open RFPs will be publicized on our website and advertised throughout marine and conservation community email newsletters.

LETTERS OF INQUIRY

While we do not accept unsolicited funding requests, we understand that there are many organizations out there doing great work that might not be in the public eye. We always appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the people and projects working to conserve and protect our planet’s precious oceans. TOF accepts Letters of Inquiry on a rolling basis via email to [email protected].  Please do not call or mail hard copy Letters of Inquiry to the office. 

Letters are kept on file for reference and are reviewed regularly as funds become available or as we interact with donors who have a specific interest in a topical area.  We are always seeking new revenue streams and engaging in discussions with new potential donors. All inquiries will receive a response on whether funds are available.  If we do come across a funding source that is a good fit for your project, we will contact you to possibly solicit a full proposal at that time.  For budgeting reference, The Ocean Foundation’s policy is to limit indirect costs to no more than 15%.

DONOR ADVISED GRANTMAKING

TOF houses a number of Donor Advised Funds, where an individual or group of donors play a role in selecting grantees aligned with their donor intent.  In addition to working closely with the individual donors, TOF provides due diligence, vetting, grant agreements, and reporting services.

Please contact Jason Donofrio at [email protected] for more information.

INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES

TOF’s institutional support capacity is for outside organizations who may be less able to process outgoing grants in a timely manner, or who may not have the staff expertise in-house.  It allows us to provide detailed due diligence services, preliminary vetting of potential grantees and administer grant agreements and reporting.

TOF also follows accessibility and best practice guidelines for our website and all Request for Proposals, grant application and reporting documentation.

For information on institutional support, capacity services or to submit a Letter of Inquiry, please email [email protected].

Past Grantees

For previous years’ grantees, click below:

Fiscal Year 2021

The Ocean Foundation (TOF) awards grants in four categories: Conserving Marine Habitats and Special Places, Protecting Species of Concern, Building the Capacity of the Marine Conservation Community, and Expanding Ocean Literacy and Awareness. The funding for these grants originate from TOF’s Core Programs and Donor and Committee Advised Funds. In its fiscal year 2021, TOF awarded $628,162 to 41 organizations around the world.

Conserving Marine Habitats and Special Places

$342,448

There are many outstanding conservation organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving our ocean. The Ocean Foundation provides assistance to these entities, which have a need to develop certain skills or competence, or for general upgrading of performance ability. The Ocean Foundation was created in part to bring new financial and technical resources to the table so that we can increase the capacity of these organizations to pursue their missions.

Grogenics SB, Inc. | $35,000
Grogenics will continue its sargassum insetting work by setting up a farmers hub in Miches, Dominican Republic to empower a group of 17 women to cultivate and sell crops with seaweed compost to sequester carbon and build living soils.

Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust | $10,400
Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust will conduct habitat restoration and conservation efforts in the Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay in Puerto Rico.

The Harte Research Institute | $62,298
The Harte Research Institute will work with Caribbean Marine Research and Conservation to develop and implement a broad sustainability-in-tourism management scheme for Cuba focused on recreational fishing policy.

Caribbean Marine Research and Conservation | $34,952
Caribbean Marine Research and Conservation will work with The Harte Research Institute to develop and implement a broad sustainability-in-tourism management scheme for Cuba focused on recreational fishing policy.

The Harte Research Institute | $62,298
The Harte Research Institute will work with Caribbean Marine Research and Conservation to develop and implement a broad sustainability-in-tourism management scheme for Cuba focused on recreational fishing policy.

Sea Mammal Education Learning Tech Society (SMELTS) | $20,000
SMELTS will conduct ropeless gear testing with lobster fishermen in New England and Atlantic Canada and cultivate relationships with U.S. and Canadian fishermen.

5 Gyres | $20,000
5 Gyres will study the requirements for the complete biodegradation of PHA in varied environments and in different shapes and sizes followed by the launch of a multimedia communications strategy.

Peak Plastic Foundation | $22,500
Peak Plastic Foundation will build coalition and trust through storytelling and policy development, ensure its content reaches broad audiences, build a resource and action pipeline for upstream plastic battles, and share how NGOs can effectively work with communities suffering from plastic pollution.

Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust | $10,000
Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust will carry out habitat restoration and conservation efforts in the Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay.

SECORE International | $30,000
SECORE International will conduct community-based coastal remediation in Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Helix Science LLC | $35,000
Helix Science will study microplastic abundance and collect plastic samples along the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka in the wake of a cargo vessel accident which released several container loads of plastic pellets and chemicals into the ocean.

Protecting Species of Concern

$96,399

For many of us, our first interest in the ocean began with an interest in the large animals that call it home. Whether it be the awe inspired by a gentle humpback whale, the undeniable charisma of a curious dolphin, or the ferocious gaping maw of a great white shark, these animals are more than just the ambassadors of the sea. These apex predators and keystone species keep the ocean ecosystem in balance, and the health of their populations often serve as an indicator for the health of the ocean as a whole.

Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative | $10,500
ICAPO and its local partners will expand and improve hawksbill sea turtle research, conservation, and awareness in Nicaragua and Mexico while conducting outreach and awareness activities and providing socio-economic benefits to these impoverished communities with an ecotourism conservation program.

University of Papua | $15,200
The State University of Papua will engage local communities to expand a science-based program to protect leatherback sea turtle nests in Indonesia by using nest enclosures, shades, and egg relocation techniques to increase hatchling production and reduce nest destruction from beach erosion, high sand temperatures, illegal harvest, and predation.

Fundacao Pro Tamar | $15,000
Projeto TAMAR will improve loggerhead sea turtle conservation efforts and community participation at the Praia do Forte station, in Brazil by protecting nests, relocating those that are threatened, training local community members, and enhancing environmental awareness and community support.

Dakshin Foundation | $7,500
Dakshin Foundation will protect leatherback sea turtles on Little Andaman Island, India by focusing on tagging, habitat monitoring, satellite telemetry, and population genetics.

Asociacion ProDelphinus | $6,000
ProDelphinus will continue its High Frequency Radio Program which provides training and capacity building to artisanal fishers while at sea on safe methods for releasing turtles, seabirds, and dolphins; helps fishers in the election of their fishing areas; and provides helpful information during their fishery duties. In exchange, fishers provide real-time information about bycatch events during their fishery trips–helping to keep a record of species bycatch and other biological data.

The Marine Mammal Center | $4,439.40
North Coast Brewing Company provides regular general support for The Marine Mammal Center’s mission to advance global ocean conservation through marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research, and education.

University of British Columbia Marine Mammal Unit | $12,563.76
North Coast Brewing Company provides regular general support for the mission of the University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit to conduct research to enhance marine mammal conservation and reduce conflicts with human uses of our shared oceans.

Noyo Center for Marine Science | $6,281.88
North Coast Brewing Company provides regular general support for Noyo Center for Marine Science’s educational programs to inspire ocean conservation.

Noyo Center for Marine Science | $1,248.45
North Coast Brewing Company provides regular general support for Noyo Center for Marine Science’s educational programs to inspire ocean conservation.

The Marine Mammal Center | $1,248.45
North Coast Brewing Company provides regular general support for The Marine Mammal Center’s mission to advance global ocean conservation through marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research, and education.

University of British Columbia Marine Mammal Unit | $2,496.90
North Coast Brewing Company provides regular general support for the mission of the University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit to conduct research to enhance marine mammal conservation and reduce conflicts with human uses of our shared oceans.

Noyo Center for Marine Science | $1,105.13
North Coast Brewing Company provides regular general support for Noyo Center for Marine Science’s educational programs to inspire ocean conservation.

The Marine Mammal Center | $1,105.13
North Coast Brewing Company provides regular general support for The Marine Mammal Center’s mission to advance global ocean conservation through marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research, and education.

Natalia Teryda | $2,500
Natalia Teryda, recipient of the 2021 Boyd Lyon Sea Turtle Scholarship, will use an unmanned aerial system to conduct aerial surveys to estimate green turtle density in two Coastal and Marine Protected Areas (CAMPs) in Uruguay during different seasons of the year and to evaluate possible changes in seaweed cover associated with invasive species and sand deposition, among other stressors.

Sea Sense | $7,000
Sea Sense will lead a community-based sea turtle conservation program and ensure the integration of biodiversity conservation into urban planning processes in Tanzania.

University of British Columbia | 2,210.25
North Coast Brewing Company provides regular general support for the mission of the University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit to conduct research to enhance marine mammal conservation and reduce conflicts with human uses of our shared oceans.

Building the Capacity of the Marine Conservation Community

$184,315

There are many outstanding conservation organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving our ocean. The Ocean Foundation provides assistance to these entities, which have a need to develop certain skills or competence, or for general upgrading of performance ability. The Ocean Foundation was created in part to bring new financial and technical resources to the table so that we can increase the capacity of these organizations to pursue their missions.

Inland Ocean Coalition | $5,000
Inland Ocean Coalition will host its tenth anniversary Masquerade Mermaid Ball to raise funding for its operations.

Black In Marine Science | $1,000
Black In Marine Science will use these funds to provide honorariums to its event panelists during #BlackInMarineScienceWeek, an effort to promote representation, celebrate and amplify the incredible work of Black People in marine science at all stages of their careers.

Green Leadership Trust | $1,000
Green Leadership Trust, a network of People of Color and Indigenous people serving U.S. environmental nonprofit boards, will use this general support grant to further its mission to build an environmental and conservation movement that wins.

African Marine Environment Sustainability Initiative | $1,000
The African Marine Environment Sustainability Initiative will use these funds for resource support in the organization of its Second Symposium titled “Marine Pollution Prevention and Control Towards Blue Economy,” held in Nigeria.

Programa Mexicano del Carbono | $7,500
Programa Mexicano del Carbono will create a guide for mangrove restoration to be used as a reference by the wider conservation community.

Save the Med Foundation | $6,300
Save the Med Foundation will use this general support grant to further its mission to enable the Mediterranean Sea to recover its rich biodiversity and to thrive in harmony with prospering, environmentally conscious and proactive local populations.

Eco-Sud | $116,615
Eco-Sud will lead efforts to rehabilitate the southeast region of Mauritius affected by the MV Wakashio oil spill.

Eco-Sud | $2,000
Eco-Sud will lead efforts to rehabilitate the southeast region of Mauritius affected by the MV Wakashio oil spill.

Mauritian Wildlife Foundation | $2,000
The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation will lead efforts to rehabilitate the southeast region of Mauritius affected by the MV Wakashio oil spill.

Instituto Mar Adentro | $900
Instituto Mar Adentro will use this general support grant to further its mission to participate in and promote actions to generate and disseminate knowledge about aquatic ecosystems and other associated ones, aiming to ensure the integrity of natural processes, environmental balance, and the benefit of today’s citizens and future generations.

Institute for Tropical Ecology | $10,000
To offset the carbon debt created by the S/Y Acadia while fulfilling her ocean conservation missions, The Institute for Tropical Ecology will conduct a reforestation project to reestablish the original biodiversity on what was previously a tropical farm.

University of Hawaii | $20,000
University of Hawaii’s Dr. Sabine will maintain a working version of the “Global Ocean Acidification-Observing Network (GOA-ON) in a Box” equipment in his lab as a resource for monitoring kit recipients around the world.

Green Latinos | $2,000
This general support grant will support Green Latinos’ mission to “convene an active communidad of Latino/a/x leaders, emboldened by the power and wisdom of [the Latino] culture, united to demand equity and dismantle racism, resourced to win environmental conservation and climate justice battles, and driven to realize [their] liberation.”

University of Douala | $1,000
This grant serves as an honoraria to recognize the effort and time of Mr. Bilounga as a BIOTTA Focal Point, which includes providing input during coordination meetings; recruiting relevant early career professionals, technicians, and government officials for specific training activities; engaging in national field and laboratory activities; using the tools provided in training to lead the development of national ocean acidification monitoring plans; and reporting to the BIOTTA lead.

University of Calabar | $1,000
This grant serves as an honoraria to recognize the effort and time of Mr. Asuquo as a BIOTTA Focal Point, which includes providing input during coordination meetings; recruiting relevant early career professionals, technicians, and government officials for specific training activities; engaging in national field and laboratory activities; using the tools provided in training to lead the development of national ocean acidification monitoring plans; and reporting to the BIOTTA lead.

Centre National de Données | $1,000
This grant serves as an honoraria to recognize the effort and time of Mr. Sohou as a BIOTTA Focal Point, which includes providing input during coordination meetings; recruiting relevant early career professionals, technicians, and government officials for specific training activities; engaging in national field and laboratory activities; using the tools provided in training to lead the development of national ocean acidification monitoring plans; and reporting to the BIOTTA lead.

Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny | $1,000
This grant serves as an honoraria to recognize the effort and time of Dr. Mobio as a BIOTTA Focal Point, which includes providing input during coordination meetings; recruiting relevant early career professionals, technicians, and government officials for specific training activities; engaging in national field and laboratory activities; using the tools provided in training to lead the development of national ocean acidification monitoring plans; and reporting to the BIOTTA lead.

Expanding Ocean Literacy and Awareness 

$10,000

One of the most significant barriers to progress in the marine conservation sector is a lack of real understanding about the vulnerability and connectivity of ocean systems. It is easy to think of the ocean as a vast, almost unlimited source of food and recreation with abundant animals, plants, and protected spaces. It can be difficult to see the destructive consequences of human activities along the coast and below the surface. This lack of awareness creates a significant need for programs that effectively communicate how the health of our ocean relates to climate change, the global economy, biodiversity, human health, and our quality of life.

Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies | $3,000
This grant from the Pier2Peer Fund will support Dr. Adekunbi Falilu to work with mentor Dr. Patrizia Vizeri to improve ocean acidification monitoring systems in Nigeria.

Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research | $2,000
This grant from the Pier2Peer Fund will support Dr. Adekunbi Falilu to work with mentor Dr. Patrizia Vizeri to improve ocean acidification monitoring systems in Nigeria.

Queen’s University Belfast | $5,000
This grant from the Pier2Peer fund supports collaboration between the mentor (Patrizia Ziveri) and mentee (Sheck Sherif) to identify the perception of ocean acidification and climate change and gender perspective on adaptation in the fisheries sector in Liberia.

Shark underwater
Scientific boat in ice

Grantee Spotlight


Emergency Sample Collection to Study the Impact of Xpress Pearl Disaster on Coastal Estuarine Ecosystem

In response to the X-Press Pearl Disaster on the coastal estuarine ecosystem of Sri Lanka, The Ocean Foundation is proud to provide emergency grant funds to Helix Science LLC to sample 10 mangrove sites along the affected coast from Colombo to the tip of the Southern coast. Mangrove and estuarine habitats are particularly sensitive to any impacts of pollutants and their health can be an indicator of the health of the overall coastal ecosystem that would allow a rapid assessment of ecological damage. Sample types will include shallow sediment, estuarine water, dry sediment on beach, plastic pellets on beach and data on beach abundance of microplastics. Samples will also undergo chemical analysis to assess their biological toxicity with model estuarine organisms in the laboratory. As water-soil parameters and the abundance of plastics rapidly change over time, emergency support was warranted.