Waitt Foundation: Grants for Marine Conservation

OVERVIEW: The Waitt Foundation predominately funds an operating institute working in ocean issues. It also makes grants, which also makes grants, mainly in support of Marine Protected Areas and sustainable fisheries. 

IP TAKE: While Waitt prioritizes large and established organizations, it also funds 

PROFILE: Ted Waitt is a Midwestern farmboy at heart. The son of a fourth-generation cattleman, he was born in Iowa and co-founded Gateway, one of the pioneers of personal computing, on the family farm in 1985. The company rose to prominence in the 1990s, shipping out its signature, cow-patterned computer boxes, and eventually relocating to California. He founded the Waitt Foundation (then the Waitt Family Foundation) in 1993. Initially, the foundation focused domestic violence; however, the foundation now focuses its efforts largely on marine conservation, supporting sustainable fisheries and policy, marine spatial planning, and marine science research and communications

The Waitt Foundation takes a hands-on, partnership-oriented approach to grantmaking.  It supports projects and campaigns focused on bringing an "end to overfishing, the creation and expansion of Marine Protected Areas, and raising public awareness about the rapid decline in ocean health."  The foundation particularly focuses on "enduring public private partnerships and conservation finance." Furthermore, the foundation seeks to "support governments in achieving their own sustainable fisheries and ocean conservation goals." It works closely with a global network of strategic partners to leverage grant funds and key relationships wherever possible.  In doing so, the foundation works closely with its grantees in order to better learn and to build and manage programs, as well as technical assistance. 

The Waitt Foundation facilitates its marine conservation grantmaking through several avenues. It operates the Waitt Institute, which works with governments from costal nations to establish marine protected areas (MPAs) and sustainably managing the ocean and restoring its fish habitats and populations. Past grantees include established organizations like Conservation International, Pew, and Oceana. The foundation supports work across the United States and the world; however, it prioritizes California's own work to establish a network of MPAs in the Pacific. 

The foundation also performs grantmaking. Its Rapid Ocean Conservation (ROC) Grants provide small grants to emerging conservation issues; however, in contrast from most funders, the grant features a quick turnaround time for solutions. This helps to facilitate conservation opportunities, to support higher-risk ideas at a low financial cost, and to engage with small, local NGOs on a global scale. In contrast, the National Geographic Society-Waitt Grants program funds early career researchers and offers funding without a lengthy peer review process. The foundation aims for a 10-week turnaround upon receiving an application, and accept them on a rolling basis. 

Grants ranges depend on specific programs; however, most range from $10,000 to $30,000. The foundation prioritizes large organizations, but offers many opportunities for small organizations to secure funding. Applicants should research Waitt's excellent and complex website prior to submitting a proposal.

PEOPLE:

  • Ted Waitt, Founder & Board Chair
  • Cherie Prothro, Program & Operations Director
  • Dominique Rissolo, Senior Program Officer & Director of Small Grants Program

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