Yet Another Mega-Billionaire Is Getting Into Marine Conservation

The Paul Allen Foundation has just added a new program to its list of initiatives. In 2013, the foundation announced a new ocean-focused program, which will promote marine wildlife and resource conservation. So, if you’re feeling blue about Bloomberg’s super-focused grant making (see IP’s post), cheer up, new funds could be on the horizon. The Paul Allen Foundation hasn’t divulged much about its new program, but it has started giving out grants.

The new Oceans Grantmaking program will be housed under the foundation’s Science & Technology Initiative. Considering Paul Allen’s high-tech background (see IP’s profile), it’s perhaps no surprise that he’s interested in high-tech solutions. In 2013, the foundation held its inaugural Ocean Challenge. The public contest was held to find new ideas for mitigating the effects of ocean acidification. The winners, two scientists working on coral genetics, won $10,000 for their work. Dr. Ruth D. Gates from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Dr. Madeleine van Oppen from the Australian Institute of Marine Science hope that corals can be genetically selected to boost their resilience to environmental stress.  

However, not all of Allen’s oceans grantmaking will be so science heavy. In December 2013 the foundation announced a $500,000 challenge grant to The Nature Conservancy, to help purchase important salmon habitat on the Washington coast. The Nature Conservancy aims to preserve three miles of river in the Olympic Rainforest to protect important wild salmon runs. An important caveat to this grant – The Nature Conservancy must raise $1 million for their land purchase in order to receive the full Paul Allen grant.

The Paul Allen Foundation has not been forthcoming about the direction of its Oceans Grantmaking program – yet. However, if its past giving can provide any guidance, it is likely that previous interests will frame future grantmaking. The foundation has long been interested in science and in supporting the Pacific Northwest. So, the direction of its initial oceans giving doesn’t come as much of a surprise. However, it will be interesting to see where this foundation goes with its oceans giving in the future.