Protect Our Reefs Grant Program

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Grant amount: Up to US $30,000

Anticipated deadline: Mar 1, 2019 2:00pm PST

Applicant type: Nonprofit Government Entity College / University

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Research

Location of project: Florida

Location of residency: Florida

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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:

Funding Priorities

The focus of the Grant funding will primarily be directed toward the major reef tract that extends from Miami to the Dry Tortugas. However research, education and conservation proposals that are focused on coral reefs off the coast and throughout the State of Florida will also be considered.

The Grant Program funding will encompass each of the elements of the coral reef ecosystem and will not be limited to stony corals alone:

  • 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)

POR this year will emphasize more start-up grants of approximately $10,000-$15,000 and a few medium-sized grants of approximately $25,000-$30,000. Up to 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 Ph.D., or within two years after receiving their PhD.

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
  • Project eligibility:
    • 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.
    • Conservation and restoration projects that include volunteers or “citizen scientist” will only be considered if the participants are thoroughly trained and supervised by qualified individuals.
    • Research projects must have the potential to produce tangible benefits in less than five years.
    • Start up grants must have the potential for other funding in the future.
    • Research projects must also have the potential for peer-reviewed published results.
    • Research and conservation 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.


  • Priority for funding in all categories of POR proposals (research, education and conservation) will now be on the impacts of ocean acidification on the resiliency and restoration of coral reef ecosystems.
  • 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 the restoration and long-term sustainable use of these ecosystems in an increasingly acidic marine environment.
  • While not required, significant consideration will be accorded to proposals that leverage Reef Plate funding with matching funds or the donation of in-kind services.
  • Additional significant consideration will also be accorded to proposals that involve partnerships or collaboration with Mote Marine Laboratory, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission or other relevant organizations.


  • 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.
  • Reef Plate grants are for special projects only and are not intended to fund the proposer’s core operations.

About this funder:

View past grantees & full 990 summary