Ocean Discovery Institute, Leaders Initiative.


2019, 2020


San Diego, California

Ocean Discovery Institute

Leaders Initiative

National research consistently shows that minorities are underrepresented in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), and marine science, in particular, lacks diversity. Historically marginalized communities in San Diego lack access to on-water activities and quality STEM educations, which led to the implementation of the ‘Ocean Leaders Initiative’ at the Ocean Discovery Institute. This multi-year science and conservation program is designed to empower and encourage underserved students from 8th-grade onward, and individuals that are considering higher education, to pursue STEM careers and achieve higher levels of academic success.

This initiative will help to prepare a diverse group of individuals to become professionals and mentors in STEM and conservation through participation in authentic research and development of practical work skills, providing students with critical academic and social tools. Fieldwork for 9th graders will take place in Baja, California, where students will work alongside scientists focused on reducing sea turtle bycatch, and studying the effects of climate change on wetland habitats.


  • Engage 120 students in grades 8-12 in first-hand research experience, mentoring, and weekly academic support.
  • Work with partners at Sea Grant to develop a multi-week research experience for 20 8th grade students to learn how to swim and explore marine environments.
  • Coordinate monthly field trips to participate in research-focused snorkeling trips with scientists, visit local research institutions, and tour universities to explore higher-education opportunities and careers in STEM. 
  • Develop intensive, two-week summer program tailored to 9th graders, where students will conduct field research led by NOAA scientists in Baja, California.

About Ocean Discovery Institute

Ocean Discovery Institute is a nonprofit that uses science to empower young people from underserved urban communities to transform their lives, their community, and our world as scientific and conservation leaders. Ocean Discovery Institute’s unique approach and exceptional outcomes earned national recognition in 2010 when it was awarded The White House’s Presidential Award for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

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