Protect Our Reefs Grant Program

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Suggest an update

Grant amount: Up to US $30,000

Anticipated deadline: Mar 2, 2021 2:00pm PST

Applicant type: Research Scientist Postdoctoral Researcher PhD Student Faculty Nonprofit Government Entity

Funding uses: Project / Program, Education / Outreach, Research

Location of project: Florida

Location of residency: Florida

View website    Save

About this funder:



Protect Our Reefs Grant Program

Experts estimate that as many as 50% of the marine animals, organisms and plants in Florida’s saltwater environment depend on coral reefs or derive some benefit from reefs during their life cycles. Sadly, the last 40 years have not been kind to our coral reefs, and we’ve witnessed losses of more than 90% of our indigenous coral coverage here in Florida. Some populations of coral species have declined by as much as 97%.

To help stem the losses, Mote Marine Laboratory created the Protect Our Reefs specialty license plate and Grants Program. The Grants Program uses the dollars raised from plate sales for:


The focus of the POR Grant funding will primarily be directed toward the portion of Florida’s reef tract that extends from Miami to the Dry Tortugas. However, proposals that are focused on coral reefs off the southeast coast and throughout the State of Florida will also be considered. Proposals submitted to the POR Grant Program may focus on a broad range of research objectives within the coral reef ecosystem and are not necessarily limited to stony corals alone. Use the following definitions of coral reefs and coral reef ecosystems to determine if your topic is applicable.

  • Coral Reef: Reefs or shoals composed primarily of corals
  • Coral Reef Ecosystem: Corals and other species and communities of reef organisms (including reef plants) associated with coral reefs and the environmental factors that directly affect coral reefs (that together function as an ecological unit in nature). 

Funding Availability

The current funding cycle 2020 will represent approximately twelve months of Reef Plate revenue from 2019. Most awards this year will be between $10,000 - $15,000 and fewer medium-sized grants of approximately $25,000-$30,000. No more than two “Young-Investigator” awards (up to $10,000 each) may be awarded to PI’s who are either within one year prior to receiving their PhD or within two years after receiving their PhD. Given the size of POR awards, tangible and auditable matching funds are strongly encouraged.

Strategic Priorities

In general, POR Grant priorities are similar to those outlined by a number of federal and state agencies, and research organizations, along with various governmental, local community and non-profit advisory groups, with respect to coral reef research and other related coral reef program priorities. Because of the need to strategically focus the POR Plate’s limited resources on critical challenges coral reef ecosystems are currently facing, priority for funding in all categories of POR proposals (research, education and conservation) will be on coral reef restoration projects, including the research of new restoration methods that further the enhancement of coral genetic diversity and resiliency in the restoration of coral reef ecosystems. Education and public outreach proposals directly related to science-based restoration of coral reef ecosystems will also be considered. Other quality proposals will be given careful consideration, but the priority focus will be on projects that significantly enhance the capabilities of coral reef ecosystem resource managers to more effectively use science-based information in promoting and implementing restoration and long-term sustainable use of these ecosystems. Priority will be given to projects whose deliverables associated are clearly defined and aligned with coral reef restoration actions. The POR will accept creative proposals that address novel coral reef restoration ideas and concepts that may require initial support to test their merit. The POR encourages scientists that meet the “Young-Investigator” criteria to note that on their application. This will be the third of an expected minimum of 5 years that POR will focus on Coral Reef Restoration. 

Additional Guidelines

The POR program has developed more specific guidelines to further assist potential proposers and reviewers. The following guidelines should be considered in the context of the overarching priority focus for funding projects that significantly address the restoration of coral reef ecosystems:

  • POR grants are for special projects only and are not intended to fund the proposer’s core operations.
  • Research start-up grants should be used to initiate new and novel ideas that can assist our reef managers in the very near future and may not be eligible under traditional funding programs.
  • When POR funds requested are only a portion of a larger project budget the activities they will directly support must be clearly defined.
  • Proposed projects should have clear deliverables that can be completed within the one year of funding. Multi-year projects may be considered, but each subsequent year will compete for funding as a new proposal on an annual basis. 
  • Given the high likelihood of longer-term funding needs to follow POR start-up grants, a detailed description of probable future sources and uses of the funds required must be provided.
  • Additional consideration will not be given to matching funds where the request has been made but the potential commitment is pending.
  • Conservation and restoration projects that include volunteers or “citizen scientists” will only be considered if the participants are thoroughly trained and supervised by qualified individuals. 
  • Research projects must also have the potential for peer-reviewed published results.
  • Capital requests for items such as mooring buoys will not be funded.
  • Projects will only be considered for species that are more than simply transient users of the reef.
  • Education projects must have clearly defined and appropriately targeted audiences, demonstrable needs, and measurable outcomes.
  • All proposals must include a clear statement as to how specifically the proposed activities will significantly enhance the capabilities of coral reef ecosystem resource managers to more effectively use science-based information in promoting and implementing the restoration and long-term sustainable use of these ecosystems in an increasingly high temperature and more acidic marine environment.
  • All publications and presentations resulting from POR funded projects must include a specific acknowledgement of the POR funding that enabled the project to be conducted.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Eligible organizations shall be based in Florida and engaged in reef research, education or conservation.
  • Applicants must be a public agency, educational institution or non-profit entity as designated by the IRS


  • While not required, significant consideration will be accorded to proposals that leverage POR funding with matching funds or the donation of in-kind services. 
    • Evidence of any identified matching funds or in-kind services must be specifically detailed and documented with letters of commitment from the providing institution. 
  • Additional significant consideration will also be accorded to proposals that involve partnerships or collaboration with Mote Marine Laboratory facilities on Summerland Key, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission or other relevant organizations.
    • Evidence of any identified partnerships/collaborations with these institutions must be specifically detailed and documented with letters of commitment from the partnering/collaborating institution. 


  • Program funds may not be used in any way for lobbying as defined by the Internal Revenue Service or applicable Florida statutes or for development activities by the applicants.
  • Capital requests for items such as mooring buoys won’t be funded.