Why the Moore Foundation Gave Over $600K to the University of Rhode Island

The University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) is a well-respected institution, widely known within the field of marine conservation. In addition to its important research in a wide range of ocean science fields— marine geology, biology, ocean chemistry, and physics— the GSO is also home to the Coastal Resource Center (CRC). The Center promotes coastal management practices worldwide and was recently the recipient of a $659,238 grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (see IP's profile). Of course, there are plenty of well-respected marine research institutes around. So what gave the CRC an edge this time?

The Moore Foundation grant is aimed at improving and expanding the network of ocean planners throughout the world. Ocean management is an issue the CRC has been working on since the 1970s, but it’s most likely the CRC’s recent work that caught the Moore Foundation’s eye.  The CRC recently developed the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP), an ocean-planning document aimed at protecting Rhode Island’s ocean based resources. The Moore Foundation grant will be used to build an innovative training program based on lessons learned from the Ocean SAMP. The training program will target ocean planners throughout the world and will likely culminate in a 2015 International Marine Spatial Planning Symposium.

According to Jennifer McCann, the CRC US Programs Director, the CRC received the grant due to its in-depth experience in coastal management issues. McCann says that “This grant has been provided in large part due to the breadth of practical on-the-ground experience and knowledge CRC has attained over decades of work on marine issues.” However, it doesn’t all come down to experience alone. Barry Gold, former program director for the Moore Foundation’s Marine Conservation Initiative noted that they “…believe smart ocean planning can protect both economic interests and biological resources for generations to come… Rhode Island is a leader in ocean planning, and we’re excited to see how CRC can leverage their local experience to help improve sustainable management of oceans around the globe.”

Grantees looking to get in on the Moore Foundation’s funding should consider highlighting their vast experience in marine conservation. Lacking such experience, organizations might try highlighting how old projects can leverage new initiatives, or how economic and ecological interests go hand in hand. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how far the CRC goes with its new projects.