Founded in San Diego in 1999, Ocean Discovery Institute addresses a national crisis in science education – one particularly acute in underserved communities. The poor performance of American students in science keeps many young people from achieving their full potential, disengages entire communities, and leaves our nation without the workforce and decision makers it needs to meet tomorrow’s challenges and sustain our position as world leaders in thought and innovation.
Our solution is this: deliver rigorous educational, scientific research, and environmental stewardship experiences that build curiosity, science understanding and skills, and leadership in underserved young people from kid to career. We achieve this through providing continuous, tuition-free science education across one school shed (defined as an area in which all young people “flow” into one high school). Our programs use ocean science to generate the spark that makes young people want to learn all principles of science, technology, engineering, math, and conservation. We then ensure all students have the tools to overcome adversity and achieve.
Our school-shed is the San Diego community of City Heights — neighborhood rich in diversity, but burdened by poverty and a lack of access to high-quality education. Here we engage 6,000 young people each year, and are expanding to reach 20,000 annually.
How we do it
To Ocean Discovery, success means urban and underserved young people becoming science leaders, today and in the future. We support our students growing from curious youngsters to science and conservation leaders — from seed to tree. This is why we envision our business model as a “sustainable ecosystem” where resources are sufficient to support growth and evolution.
Our community — families, schools, scientific entities, and other partners — make up the rich soil that nourishes these young people. Tuition-free programs provide the sunlight — energy that makes growth over time possible. And a diverse network of donors, investors, and volunteers act as clouds, providing resources needed for kids to grow. For seed-to-tree growth to occur, this ecosystem must act in harmony in a single community — our school-shed.
Ocean Discovery Institute’s work is grounded in the following core values:
We believe that education and discovery are remarkable opportunities and that every person has the potential to improve their future and that of our world through the acquisition of knowledge and new ideas. True learning requires courage to face the unknown, belief in one’s own ability, and strategic use of resources.
We believe that diversity results in the most productive, sustainable, and resilient communities. Rich interactions between those with diverse perspectives result in the evolution of thought and innovation.
We believe that as stewards we have the responsibility to use our resources wisely. Whether we are working in the natural environment or with our donors’ capital, our commitment is to find the most sustainable use of those resources in order to have the greatest impact.
We believe that all individuals have the capacity to lead with conviction and integrity. We improve our world by instilling leadership principles that include “walking the talk”, challenging the process, empowering and encouraging others, and inspiring a shared vision.
We believe that passion elicits the persistence necessary for discovery and accomplishment. By engaging in all action with curiosity and commitment, we can ignite a passion in each person that collectively will benefit our world.