Ocean exploration grants focused on diversity and inclusion expand opportunities for workforce development

NOAA Ocean Exploration, in collaboration with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, developed a mini-grant program to support diverse learners from underserved and underrepresented communities in engaging in various ocean exploration careers and build the capacity for STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Ocean Exploration Grants (previously called Ocean Exploration Education Mini-Grants) are available to educators working to bring ocean science and exploration to their students and reduce barriers to the field. These grants funded up to $25,000 to each of the seven projects that received the award. These projects aimed to build a more equitable ocean exploration workforce pipeline.  In total, the inaugural year of the DEIA Ocean Exploration Education Grants program supported ocean literacy, stewardship, and workforce development opportunities for 876 K-12 students, 91 college students, and 66 educators from historically marginalized communities across the United States.

"Our teams were truly impressed by the innovative methods each project used to address many barriers limiting access and opportunities for youth from historically marginalized communities from entering ocean science and exploration careers,” said Allison Alexander, Vice President, Program Operations for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. “We are excited to offer these grants again this year to support additional efforts to knock down barriers and advance the field by making it more inclusive and equitable to all."

The next round of DEIA Grant funding will offer up to $20,000 to each successful applicant and will be granted in the first six months of 2023. Previous grantees will also be able to apply for an additional $7,500 to support furthering the impact of their projects.

"I am proud that NOAA and the Foundation continue to open doors for the next generation of Ocean Explorers by providing ocean literacy and workforce development opportunities to diverse youth across the country,” said Jeremy Weirich, Director of NOAA Ocean Exploration. “Supporting the next generation of ocean scientists and ocean stewards — the foundation of a new, more equitable workforce — is a critical step in advancing a U.S. Blue Economy for years to come.”

Learn more about the 2022 Ocean Exploration Grantees below!