Ocean Guardian School

kids holding signs that plastic is bad for animals and the ocean

How to Become an Ocean Guardian School

  • Eligible schools: Any school (preK-12) located in CALIFORNIA in the following counties: Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte, Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.
    Any school (preK-12) located in OREGON in the following counties: Clatsop, Tillamook, Lincoln, Lane, Douglas, Coos and Curry.
    Any School (preK-12) located in WASHINGTON in the following counties: Clallam, Jefferson, Grays Harbor and Pacific
  • Grants range in the amounts of $1,000 - $4,000 per school depending on the level of the project and funding year.
  • ALL grant applications are due by 5 pm Pacific on May 1 (for projects to begin at the start of the following academic year).
  • Funding decisions will be made by early June.
  • Teacher stipends are limited to 30% of total budget.

Ocean Guardian School Project Requirements

  1. SCHOOL- OR COMMUNITY-BASED PROJECT: The Ocean Guardian School program funds watershed and/or ocean stewardship projects. Schools propose hands-on projects that make a difference in the health and protection of their local watersheds and/or ocean. Below is a list of general pathways and examples of projects that are commonly funded by the Ocean Guardian School program. A proposed project must have a connection to the health of the watershed and/or ocean. See additional examples of past and presently funded Ocean Guardian School projects. Remember to keep the proposal focused on asingle project.
    • Restoration - watershed/wetland restoration, fish habitat creation, shoreline/bank stabilization
    • Refuse/Reduce/Reuse/Recycle/Rot - school-wide recycling/composting programs, redesign and implementation of school-based wastewater system, school-wide green purchasing program, zero waste lunch programs
    • Marine Debris - reducing single-use plastics in school, promoting reusable bags in local community/ stores
    • Schoolyard Habitats/Gardens - creating or improving school gardens/schoolyard habitats with an emphasis on native plants, low water use, rain catchment systems, etc. while clearly connecting these activities to the health and preservation of the local watershed and/or the ocean
    • Energy and Ocean Health - Reducing energy use/carbon footprint such as school energy audits/carbon footprint calculations resulting in energy saving plans (i.e., "power down" campaign, "no idling" campaign, bike to school days, light bulb/computer energy saving plans, etc.), clean energy alternatives (i.e., wind/solar projects), water savings projects, tree planting projects

  2. OCEAN CONNECTION: Your proposed project must make a connection to the health and preservation of your local watershed and/or ocean. During your project period, you are required to incorporate the following into your project activities and/or lessons:
    • Watershed Education: All projects are expected to incorporate learning opportunities around watershed identification. Students should be able to identify in what watershed their school is located as well as some of the surrounding watersheds, nearby ocean and national marine sanctuaries.
    • Ocean Literacy Principles: At least one (preferably more) Ocean Literacy Principle(s) must be integrated into your Ocean Guardian school project during your activities or classroom lessons. Learn more about ocean literacy.

  3. SCHOOL OUTREACH: Outreach activities within your school must include a Project Introduction Presentation that informs your school community about your Ocean Guardian School grant project. In addition, at the end of the year, students who were involved in the project will present a Project Wrap-up to their school community, communicating some aspect of their Ocean Guardian work. This year-end presentation can take on a variety of forms including videos, readings, art work, songs, plays, poems, or school announcements.

    COMMUNITY OUTREACH: Your Ocean Guardian School project must include an element of community outreach led by a group of students who are involved in the project. Examples of community outreach include STUDENT presentations to Parent-Teachers Association, School Board, City Council, and to other schools, STUDENT presentations/participation in local community festivals/fairs/events, STUDENT written letters to local papers, political representatives, business leaders, Rotary Clubs, etc.

  4. FINAL REPORT: A final project and budget report is required at the end of your project period. Instructions on how to complete this online report will be sent out at the beginning of your project period.

  5. FIELD TRIPS: The Ocean Guardian School grant will fund field trips, however, they are limited to 30% of the total project budget. Field trips are intended to supplement the project activities and learning opportunities. The grant will fund related expenses such as costs and entrance fees.

  6. STIPENDS: The Ocean Guardian School grant will fund stipends for teachers, staff, parents, and/or community partners. However, the amount of stipends is limited to 30% of the total project budget.

First Step

  • Develop a plan of action and a budget that outlines your school- or community-based project. Remember to keep the proposal focused on a single project that contributes to the health and conservation of your local watershed(s), world's ocean and/or national marine sanctuaries.

What Your School Receives

  • At the end of a funded project period, if program requirements have been met, your school will be recognized as an Ocean Guardian School and receive an official Ocean Guardian School banner.

For more information or general support, please contact Naomi Pollack.