Ocean Foundation

Tell us what you want to do for the ocean, we'll take care of the rest.

aka The Ocean Foundation   |   Washington, DC   |  www.oceanfdn.org

Mission

The Ocean Foundation (TOF) is a unique community foundation with a mission to support, strengthen, and promote those organizations dedicated to reversing the trend of destruction of ocean environments around the world. We work with a community of donors who care about the coasts and ocean to grow the financial resources available to support marine conservation in order to promote healthy and abundant ocean ecosystems and benefit the human communities that depend on them. We operate using a well-established business model (the community foundation) to serve donors and partners interested in marine conservation. As such, TOF works towards increasing the capacity of conservation organizations, hosting projects and funds, and supporting those working to improve the health of ocean ecosystems.

Ruling year info

2002

President

Mr. Mark J. Spalding

Main address

1320 19th Street, NW 5th Floor

Washington, DC 20036 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

The Coral Reef Foundation

EIN

71-0863908

NTEE code info

Community Foundations (T31)

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

Marine Science and Oceanography (U21)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Our one global ocean supports all life on earth. 71% of our planet is covered with water; 1 in 7 people depend on the ocean for the protein it supplies and more than half of the world's population lives within 50 miles of its coast. Yet, the ocean continues to face numerous threats - many human-caused - including climate change, ocean acidification, coastal overdevelopment; plastics and marine debris; overfishing and unregulated fishing, just to name a few. These threats are well documented and rapidly changing, yet, less than 5% of environmental funding goes to support the protections of 71% of the planet on which 100% of us depend. As the only community foundation for the ocean, The Ocean Foundation is stepping up to meet this need by enhancing the human relationship with our world ocean so that the ocean can continue to play its vital role for healthy human communities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Protecting Species of Concern

For many of us, our first interest in the ocean began with an interest in the large animals that call it home. Whether it be the awe inspired by a gentle humpback whale, the undeniable charisma of a curious dolphin, or the ferocious gaping maw of a great white shark, these animals are more than just the ambassadors of the sea. These apex predators and keystone species keep the ocean ecosystem in balance, and the health of their populations often serve as an indicator for the health of the ocean as a whole.

Population(s) Served
Adults

One of the most significant barriers to progress in the marine conservation sector is a lack of real understanding about the vulnerability and connectivity of ocean systems. It is easy to think of the ocean as a vast, almost unlimited source of food and recreation with abundant animals, plants, and protected spaces. It can be difficult to see the destructive consequences of human activities along the coast and below the surface. This lack of awareness creates a significant need for programs that effectively communicate how the health of our ocean relates to climate change, the global economy, biodiversity, human health, and our quality of life.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Our one global ocean is a mosaic of special places, from the bustling vibrancy of coral reefs to the tidal pools of the rocky coasts to the stark, glistening beauty of the frozen Arctic. These habitats and ecosystems are more than just picturesque; they all provide vital benefits to the health of the ocean, the plants and animals that live in them, and the human communities that depend on them.

Population(s) Served
Adults

There are many outstanding conservation organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving our ocean. The Ocean Foundation provides assistance to these entities, which have a need to develop certain skills or competence, or for general upgrading of performance ability. The Ocean Foundation was created in part to bring new financial and technical resources to the table so that we can increase the capacity of these organizations to pursue their missions.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Ocean Tribute Award 2018

boot Düsseldorf

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of organizations accessing payroll and/or accounting services

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

These numbers indicate the sponsored projects and donor advised funds for whom TOF provides these services

Number of fiscal sponsor applicants

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Building the Capacity of the Marine Conservation Community

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total Includes all new applicants that fiscal year, including those who had applied, but were not accepted as a TOF fiscal sponsored project

Number of fiscal sponsor applicants sponsored

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Building the Capacity of the Marine Conservation Community

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This number indicates the total number of fiscal sponsored projects in that fiscal year. In 2016 we accepted 6 new applicants

Number of fiscal sponsorship dollars distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This figure reflects the total revenue raised by our fiscal sponsored projects during each fiscal year.

Number of external speaking requests for members of the organization

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This total reflects only the speaking engagements attended by the President of the organization in that fiscal year

Number of policymakers or candidates reached

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Protecting Marine Habitat and Special Places

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This data reflects the number of elected officials recruited to support legislation in a particular issue each fiscal year

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

TOF envisions a future in which human interaction with the ocean and coasts is more sustainable because we leverage a diverse, vibrant and engaged community of donors, grantees and projects to respond to urgent issues and seize on key opportunities. And, where members of the ocean conservation community are working together with a better understanding of potential solutions to emerging threats to the marine environment, along with greater capacity to implement those solutions.

TOF’s ten goals for the next ten years build on our strengths and best options for growth:

1) Continue to scope and track emerging issues in ocean and coastal conservation, by collating well-documented research and expert perspectives, participating in international fora, and making information and findings freely available to the public.
2) Follow leadership from our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) Committee to take action both within the workplace and to influence the broader marine conservation community.
3) Expand community foundation services for implementers and donors.
4) Maintain a robust demand for our consulting services, including: (1) third party screening of ocean and climate related investments for asset owners, investment advisors, and venture capitalists, (2) philanthropic advising for newcomers to marine conservation philanthropy, and (3) strategic programmatic development.
5) Remain a leading public foundation that demonstrates ethical practices, accountability and transparency as cross-cutting values.
6) Establish a global network of well-trained ocean acidification science practitioners who are supported through well-designed ocean acidification adaptation and mitigation policies. TOF has developed and deployed affordable Ocean Acidification monitoring kits in priority areas around the world, offered capacity building training for scientists and drafted legislation for ocean acidification adaptation and mitigation planning.
7) Sequester / store carbon via nature-based solutions through the restoration and conservation of critical blue carbon habitats (including mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes) and the implementation of regenerative agricultural practices using seaweed-based inputs.
8) Develop and synthesize original science to inform a suite of legislative standards for the polymers and additives used in the production of plastics so that plastic has been reengineered to be Safe, Simple and Standardized.
9) Expand grantmaking services to provide multi-year support to projects and organizations that advance the field of marine conservation and invest in individuals and organizations with a unique, promising ability to address ocean threats.
10) Launch and deepen the Caribbean Marine Research and Conservation Initiative (CariMar) and TOF-Mexico through cultivation and maintenance of additional partner and government relationships and the identification of on-the-ground restoration sites.

We use our years of expertise to turn ocean visions into reality through advised funds, strategic partnerships, and diverse initiatives, and we nurture implementers by finding, evaluating, and supporting the most effective marine conservation projects and organizations. TOF also generates new ideas by focusing our collective expertise to generate cutting edge content on emerging threats to our coasts and ocean, potential solutions to those threats, and better strategies for implementing those solutions. In addition, we also scope emerging issues and provide what’s needed to catalyze actions quickly in urgent matters, and we foster networks of individuals interested in pushing the envelope, including facilitating dialogues among funders and experts, and expanding TOF’s role as an objective and authoritative source on ocean conservation.

Furthermore, TOF will take action through its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Committee both within the workplace and to influence the broader marine conservation community by continuing to implement equitable practices in all facets of the sector, from funding distribution to conservation actions. Examples of this organizational effort include our Marine Pathways paid internship program, which provides multiple opportunities to learn and grow professionally, and providing regular training to staff in D.E.I.J. issues to deepen understanding, address emerging issues, and build capacity to limit negative behaviors, and promote equity and inclusion.

Programmatically, TOF will 1) establish a global network of well-trained ocean acidification science practitioners who are supported through well-designed ocean acidification adaptation and mitigation policies by deploying affordable monitoring kits in priority areas around the world and provide direct training and technological assistance to local partners while identifying and filling major gaps in scientific capacity; 2) work across different habitat types and increase and restore abundance of ecosystems by making systems more productive than they were before to sequester and store carbon via nature-based solutions through restoration and conservation of critical blue carbon habitats; 3) develop and synthesize original science to inform legislative standards on plastic production by enabling five countries to introduce national and regional legislation to guide manufacturers on redesigning plastic while meeting locally-driven and specific goals.

TOF has experienced staff that together as a team offers decades of insight and specific skills to the marine community. Our staff has strong leadership and management skills, and is capable of handling a diversity of relationships, projects, grants, and programs. The staff is deeply experienced in capacity building, fiscal sponsorship, operations, administration, and finance as well as content knowledge on a vast array of marine issues. The Ocean Foundation has a diverse Board of Directors composed of individuals with expertise in a variety of disciplines, both within and outside of marine conservation. And, we rely on a group of over 150 experts on our Board of Advisors.

Over the past twenty years, TOF has directly overseen the allocation of $55.1 million in direct grants and services to protect and restore healthy ocean and coastal ecosystems around the world, and currently fiscally hosts more than 50 projects that span diverse conservation issues, emerging ocean threats, and implement ocean solutions globally.

Here is an overview of what TOF has accomplished in advancing each of its core initiatives:

International Ocean Acidification Initiative (IOAI)
To date, TOF has trained over 200 scientists and policymakers on ocean acidification (OA) monitoring and mitigation techniques, convened a host of regional workshops and has funded on-the-ground trainings around the world, in places like Mauritius, Mozambique, Fiji, Hawaii, Colombia, Panama and Mexico. In 2017, TOF put together a legislative guidebook, and model laws that lawmakers could use to design policy action. In 2018, TOF was invited to join the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) expert group on OA. In 2018 TOF also awarded nine “Pier-2-Peer” scholarships to mentor-mentee pairs in 16 countries, enabling collaboration and learning exchanges between scientists. In 2019, TOF provided an OA policy training for the Mexican Senate. In 2020, we adapted quickly to the global pandemic with a focus on digital training resources coupled with outgoing grants and equipment distribution.

Blue Resilience Initiative (BRI)
The Ocean Foundation has been involved in coastal restoration since 2008 and released the first-ever Blue Carbon Offset Calculator in 2012 to provide charitable carbon offsets through the restoration and conservation of important coastal habitats that sequester and store carbon, including seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, and salt marshes.

Our accomplishments to-date in Jobos Bay, Puerto Rico include restoring/expanding 5 acres of seagrass, enhancing protections for 22 acres of seagrass, and restoring 1 acre of mangrove trees. In these efforts, we held one workshop on long term monitoring with 40 participants. 45 local partners and volunteers are engaged in these habitat restoration efforts. We are currently on schedule to restore acres of mangrove and seagrass habitats in Jobos Bay as well as Vieques, Puerto Rico.


Redesigning Plastics Initiative (RPI):

The Ocean Foundation has always supported the cleanup and marine debris. TOF staff regularly updates its plastics resources webpage with the latest findings and research related to plastic pollution covering fields of policy, health, biodiversity, and more.

Since 2017, TOF has awarded research and cleanup grants, partnered with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators to address plastic waste at the state legislative level, convened scientists with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, contracted legislation to draft policies about plastic and materials production, and much more.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    The Ocean Foundation serves communities around the world who have needs in advancing their local ocean science efforts, conservation and/or restoration efforts, and more; our staff's vast expertise is always working to help fund or collaborate with others on unique and tailored solutions for marine conservation. Policymakers and governments, local conservation organizations and practitioners, and scientists are all part of the community we serve. We also help sole practitioners and small groups of experts gain access to funding and the larger marine conservation network by hosting them fiscally and lifting the administrative burden from them so that they can focus on their work.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

Ocean Foundation
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Ocean Foundation

Board of directors
as of 10/26/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Elliot Cafritz

Angelica Braestrup

The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation

Josh Ginsberg

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Nora Pouillon

Restaurant Nora

Bill Eichbaum

World Wildlife Fund

Dawn Martin

Ceres, Inc.

Mark J. Spalding

The Ocean Foundation

Russell Smith

Environmental Law Institute

Lisa Volgenau

The Volgenau Foundation

Elliot Cafritz

The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation

Olha Krushelnytska

The World Bank

Imani Fairweather Morrison

Oak Foundation

Denise Naguib

Marriott International

Ed Tillinghast, II

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP’

Lumay Wang Murphy

AB InBev

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 6/9/2021,

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/28/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.