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Capacity Building Grants Awards 
 
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Capacity Building Grants 2
Image: Steve Debenport/iStock

Capacity Building Grants 2 (Awarded 2018)
Topic: Advancing Scientific and Environmental Literacy in Children and Youth
Total Awards: 9 projects totaling $3,223,907
Grant Type: Education
to help non-profit organizations enhance the use of science to serve community needs and address coastal challenges.
Press Release

Building Sea-Level Rise and Flood Resilience Capacity in the Northern Gulf Through Students and Teachers
Award Amount:
$391,537
Project Director: Renee Collini (Mississippi State University)
Project Team Affiliations: Mississippi State University in cooperation with Alabama School of Math and Science, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative, Smart Home America, and University of South Alabama
Overview: Coastal flooding and sea-level rise coupled with above-average regional socioeconomic vulnerability and rapid development is exacerbating hazard impacts in the northern Gulf of Mexico. In order to actively develop and execute resilience actions, it is imperative for future natural resource managers, elected officials, and voters to understand potential risks to their communities. This project aims to help create an informed and prepared coastal citizenry possessing the understanding and skills necessary to reduce coastal vulnerability to flooding and sea-level rise. Collaborating with area educators in coastal Alabama and Mississippi, the project will develop and refine an engaging, hands-on curriculum for 9-12th grade students pertaining to flooding and sea-level rise resilience and conduct outreach to support its use in classrooms and nontraditional educational settings throughout the region.

Conceptualizing Human Alteration and Natural Growth in Estuaries and Savannas (CHΔNGES)
Award Amount:
$100,000
Project Director: Ayesha Gray (Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve)
Project Team Affiliation: Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Overview: The Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Mississippi is home to several unique ecosystems that experience ongoing challenges from natural and human-caused disruptions. Maintaining and restoring the health of these ecosystems requires constant application of management, monitoring, and restoration efforts. This project plans to use these unique habitats and the current management, monitoring, and restoration practices employed on them as a platform to educate students about ecological processes and ecosystem function. To advance their scientific and environmental literacy, local 9-12th grade students from the surrounding area will be provided with a series of immersive educational experiences in the estuary and pine savanna involving critical thinking exercises and hands-on engagement with the work being done by natural resources managers at the reserve.

Environmental Health Youth Council Promoting Science-Based Learning and Leadership for Underserved Houston-area Youth
Award Amount:
$443,906
Project Director: Elena Craft (Environmental Defense Fund)
Project Team Affiliations: Environmental Defense Fund in cooperation with City of Houston Health Department, Galena Park High School, John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science, Pasadena Memorial High School, and Raul Yzaguirre School for Success Charter School
Overview: As a result of extensive industrial activity, the Houston area suffers from chronic air quality issues and associated health impacts. As global warming continues, more frequent and extreme rainfall events are expected to result in massive flooding and increased pollution, such as that resulting from Hurricane Harvey. The Houston area communities most at-risk from air pollution and climate change impacts are predominantly low-income, underserved communities along the Houston Ship Channel. This project aims to prepare 9-12th grade youth in these communities to become future leaders on climate and air pollution issues and more knowledgeable about how to help improve the health and prosperity of their communities. High school students will be organized into yearlong Environmental Health Youth Councils and provided with leadership training and science-based educational experiences pertaining to resiliency planning and improving environmental conditions. In addition, a complementary museum exhibit will be developed to reach broader audiences.

Magnolia Bayou: A Catalyst for Change in Downtown Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Award Amount:
$98,080
Project Director: David Perkes (Mississippi State University Gulf Coast Community Design Studio)
Project Team Affiliations: Mississippi State University Gulf Coast Community Design Studio in cooperation with Bay St. Louis Community Arts Center and unabridged Architecture
Overview: Magnolia Bayou, an important coastal stream flowing into the Bay of St. Louis, is designated as a highly impaired waterway in Mississippi. The Magnolia Bayou Watershed is an area that includes much of downtown Bay St. Louis, a growing community experiencing an influx of new development that is placing increased pressure on Magnolia Bayou. A conservation plan for the Magnolia Bayou Watershed identified community outreach and engagement as the most important strategy for dealing with these increasing pressures and protecting the watershed. This project aims to engage 9-12th grade students in exploring policies and actions the community can use to address threats to the Magnolia Bayou Watershed while also learning about professions related to environmental stewardship and mechanisms that can be used to influence change. Through the project, students will participate in a series of workshops and field experiences to learn about water quality issues impacting the watershed and interact with decision-makers and conservation professionals working to protect the watershed.

Okefenokee - Understanding Real-world Relevance through Suwannee Watershed Assessment and Monitoring Project (OUR2 SWAMP)
Award Amount:
$763,897
Project Director: Lacey Huffling (Georgia Southern University)
Project Team Affiliation: Georgia Southern University
Overview: While local watersheds and the larger water bodies they ultimately flow into can seem geographically distant and disconnected from one another, activities occurring in the local watersheds and the overall ecosystem health of these watersheds have significant downstream impacts on the ecological health of those larger water bodies. This is particularly true of the Gulf of Mexico, which receives water from rivers draining from 31 states. This project aims to increase 6-12th grade students’ understanding of these causal relationships focused around the Okefenokee Swamp in southeastern Georgia and its impact on the Gulf of Mexico. The project will train and provide ongoing support for teachers to integrate local ecosystem monitoring, through Adopt-A-Stream and other citizen science projects, with problem-based learning and fieldwork to provide first-hand demonstrations for students of the connection between their local watershed and the Gulf of Mexico. Community demographics in the region will also result in increased participation of underrepresented and underserved populations in citizen science.

Project Resilience: Empowering Gulf Coast Youth to Thrive in Transformative Communities
Award Amount: $293,506
Project Director: Becca Hatheway (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research [UCAR])
Project Team Affiliations: UCAR in cooperation with South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center and Trainer Evaluation
Overview: Coastal communities in Louisiana, as elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, are being impacted by rising sea levels, changes in storm intensity, and coastal erosion. These impacts are expected to increase over time as global warming increases and land subsidence continues. Most students in the region understand they are living in one of the fastest changing areas on the planet but understanding about why the changes are occurring and what can be done in response is less widespread. This project aims to educate 9-12th grade coastal Louisiana students on the science behind the challenges coastal communities are facing and empower them to use that science to develop community resilience plans addressing the challenges. The project team will develop an environmental science curriculum focused on the Gulf Coast and a toolkit that students can use to guide them through a resilience planning process. A select number of the resilience plans developed will be chosen to receive support for implementation and the educational resources developed will be made available to educators throughout the Gulf Coast region.

Seeding Wetland Restoration and Conservation in Mississippi High Schools
Award Amount:
$399,930
Project Director: Eric Sparks (Mississippi State University; Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant)
Project Team Affiliations: Mississippi State University in cooperation with Dauphin Island Sea Lab and University of Southern Mississippi
Overview: While coastal degradation and poor water quality are chronic issues affecting the lives of those living across coastal Mississippi, many students in the region often have a perceived disconnect between themselves and the environment. Some potential reasons for this disconnect include limited exposure to natural landscapes, despite living in nearby proximity to them, and inadequate understanding of people’s reliance on natural systems. This project aims to help address this disconnect by providing 10-12th grade students with hands-on educational experiences that promote stewardship of natural ecosystems and develop understanding of how the health of natural environments contributes to coastal resilience. The project will develop and implement a paired wetland nursery and education program for high schools in coastal Mississippi that will involve students learning about coastal wetlands, growing wetland plants in nurseries, planting their nursery-grown plants on coastal restoration projects, and conducting related student-designed research projects.

WeatherBlur: Engaging Students in Mississippi, Alabama, and Maine through Citizen Science and Inquiry-Driven Project-Based Learning
Award Amount:
$438,140
Project Director: Christine Bevc (RTI International)
Project Team Affiliations: RTI International in cooperation with Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance
Overview: Coastal communities around the country face environmental challenges stemming from natural and human-caused disasters that affect community health. Developing understanding about natural systems and the interdependence of people and the natural environment is critical to helping prepare students to address these challenges in the future. This project aims to build scientific and environmental literacy among underserved 4-6th grade students in coastal Alabama, Maine, and Mississippi through co-created citizen-science and action projects pertaining to environmental health. The effort will be based around an existing online platform, WeatherBlur, which connects students and classroom educators with science experts to collaborate on developing project research questions, collecting field data, sharing results, and discussing actions students can take in their local communities to address the challenges their projects were focused upon.

Youth-Led Community-based Citizen Science Projects in the Gulf Region
Award Amount:
$294,913
Project Director: Ellen (Stevie) Lewis (Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science [Public Lab])
Project Team Affiliation: Public Lab
Overview: U.S. Gulf Coast communities face a convergence of environmental concerns with distinct social, cultural, economic, political, and regulatory factors that create complex situations many of these communities find themselves challenged to address. For this reason, the Gulf region is both a fitting and important place to foster youth to become civically-minded, scientifically literate members of society engaged in building more resilient communities. This project aims to build the capacity of Gulf region youth to address environmental issues affecting their communities by engaging them in hands-on science learning and practice relevant to their lived experience. The project will pilot a community citizen science learning model that positions young people as knowledge producers rather than knowledge consumers. With teacher support, 12-18 year-old youth will lead research projects through all research stages on local environmental topics they have identified as important. Materials developed and refined through the pilot effort will be made available for use by other educators throughout the region.

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Capacity Building Grant Awards header image
Image: William Folsom, NOAA NMFS

Capacity Building Grants 1 (Awarded 2017)
Topic: Enhancing Community Networks That Improve Coastal Environments, Health, and Well-Being
Total Awards: 12 projects totaling $3,163,568
Grant Type: Community Networks
to help non-profit organizations enhance the use of science to serve community needs and address coastal challenges.
Press Release

Building Bridges to Understand Fishing Communities and Fisheries
Award Amount:
$432,590
Project Director: Thao Vu (Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese-American Fisher Folks and Families [MCVAFFF])
Project Team Affiliations: MCVAFFF in cooperation with University of Southern Mississippi
Overview: MSCVAFF works to address the immediate and long-term needs of the Vietnamese-American fishing communities that have been adversely impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. With this award, the project team plans to connect scientists with multi-ethnic fishing communities in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi to encourage a two-way information exchange. Scientists will benefit from the traditional ecological knowledge that they learn from fisher folks, while fisher folks will learn about ecosystem research and data collection methods from their academic research scientist partners. By encouraging cooperative research that connects these two groups, the project team hopes to inform scientific research and fisheries restoration priorities with more comprehensive information about coastal ecosystems and to develop solutions to address chronic challenges that fishing communities face.

Building Industry Engagement Within the Gulf of Mexico Alliance to Increase Impacts to Regional Efforts
Award Amount:
$149,744
Project Director: Laura Bowie (Gulf of Mexico Alliance [GOMA])
Project Team Affiliations: GOMA in cooperation with
Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and Mississippi Department of Marine Resources
Overview: GOMA is a regional ocean partnership created by the five Gulf state governors with a goal of enhancing the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico through increased regional collaboration. With this award, the project team plans to engage and build relationships with business leaders in industries connected to the Gulf’s coastal and marine environments. By encouraging more participation from these sectors in GOMA, the team hopes to facilitate the exchange of science-based knowledge, tools, and experience among government, industry, and other regional stakeholders. This exchange could improve resource management, encourage more science-based solutions to coastal challenges, and result in more accessible data available to more users.

Building Organizational Capacity Through a Community-Based Citizen Science Program for Monitoring Environmental Contamination in Louisiana Coastal Parishes
Award Amount:
$202,174
Project Director: Sharon Gauthe (Interfaith Sponsoring Committee, Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing [BISCO])
Project Team Affiliations: BISCO in cooperation with Groundwork New Orleans,
The LifeLine Group, RAND Corporation, and Sarpy and Associates, LLC
Overview: BISCO’s mission is to build a powerful, multi-faith, multi-ethnic, multi-issue organization that serves as a voice for the people of Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes in southeastern Louisiana, as well as Grand Isle in southern Jefferson Parish. With this award, BISCO and its partners plan to train coastal Louisiana communities to use citizen science to monitor the environment for contaminants. They intend to pilot a training program designed to develop a citizen scientist network and create sustainable avenues for communication, collaboration, and knowledge exchange. Through community-led citizen science, BISCO and its partners hope to build BISCO’s capacity and enhance community health and resilience in ways that promote equitable cross-boundary collaboration, foster scientific literacy, and encourage community-based action around environmental risks.

Building Scientific Literacy and Resilience Through Community Citizen Science in the Gulf of Mexico
Award Amount:
$157,705
Project Director: Ellen (Stevie) Lewis (Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science [Public Lab])
Project Team Affiliation: Public Lab
Overview: Public Lab seeks to change how people see the world in environmental, social, and political terms by teaching them how to investigate environmental concerns using inexpensive, do-it-yourself techniques. With this award, the project team proposes to build a community citizen science network of Biloxi, Mobile,
New Orleans, and Pensacola residents who can collect and use data to enhance environmental protection and increase community resilience. Through a series of workshops, Public Lab team will encourage communities to engage in collaborative approaches to prioritizing and answering local environmental questions. Over the course of this project, Public Lab will work to encourage collaborative learning and civic engagement via community-led scientific exploration and investigation.

CoastWatch for Action: Engaging Alaska Teachers, Youth, and Community in Preparedness and Response to Coastal Hazards and Climate Change
Award Amount:
$203,841
Project Director: Elizabeth Trowbridge (Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies)
Project Team Affiliations: Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies in cooperation with Alaska Sea Grant, Alaska SeaLife Center, Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and Prince Williams Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council
Overview: The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies works to foster responsible interaction between people and their natural surroundings and to generate knowledge about the unique marine and coastal ecosystems of Kachemak Bay through science-based environmental education and stewardship. With this award, the project team will develop materials to educate youth and adults in Alaskan coastal communities about the effects of oil spills and other coastal hazards related to climate change. The team plans to train teachers in Alaskan coastal communities and build a network that connects responders and community preparedness professionals with educators and their students. This project is designed to build capacity in communities that have few resources to address the growing risk of coastal environmental hazards. The team anticipates that the project will foster environmental stewardship and encourage teachers and students to apply scientific concepts to real-world challenges.

Enhancing Community Resilience by Linking Conservation and Restoration with Coastal Hazards Risk Reduction via the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Community-Rating System
Award Amount: $243,687
Project Director: Christine Shepard (The Nature Conservancy [TNC])
Project Team Affiliations: TNC in cooperation with
Barber and Mann, Louisiana State University, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Overview: TNC works to conserve the lands and water on which life depends. With this award, TNC and its partners plan to work with three Gulf of Mexico communities to develop tools that can help them identify and select projects that restore habitats, enhance coastal resilience, and earn FEMA community rating system points that reduce flood insurance rates. TNC and its partners will share case studies and lessons learned from this process via GOMA’s Coastal Resilience Team and TNC’s Coastal Resilience Network. They anticipate that this project will increase communities’ capacity to make strategic investments in natural solutions that help protect them from storm and flood impacts. This work could benefit coastal communities in the Gulf of Mexico and across the United States.

Expanding Coastal Community Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation
Award Amount:
$359,278
Project Director: Tracie Sempier (Gulf of Mexico Alliance [GOMA])
Project Team Affiliations: GOMA in cooperation with
Louisiana Sea Grant and Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative
Overview: GOMA is a regional ocean partnership created by the five Gulf state Governors with the goal of increasing regional collaboration to enhance the environmental and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico. As part of this mission, GOMA is working with the Gulf of Mexico Climate and Resilience Community of Practice (CoP) to expand its capacity for addressing coastal resilience issues. The CoP is a network of coastal communities and outreach and extension professionals working together to adapt to climate change in the coastal zone through the exchange of ideas, opportunities, and expertise. With this award, project team members plan to work on key environmental and economic challenges associated with flooding. They will develop a survey for CoP members to prioritize actions for community project implementation, form working groups, collaborate with local communities to execute next steps, and develop video case studies to share best practices and lessons learned. This project is intended to help coastal communities become more resilient by pairing climate scientists with practitioners, local decision-makers, and other technical experts to solve real-world problems related to coastal flooding, saltwater intrusion, and climate communication.

Making Monitoring Matter: Breaking Down Barriers to Interdisciplinary Collaboration in the Houston-Galveston Area
Award Amount:
$182,344
Project Director: Sarah Gossett (Galveston Bay Foundation)
Project Team Affiliations: Galveston Bay Foundation
Overview: The mission of the Galveston Bay Foundation is to preserve and enhance Galveston Bay as a healthy and productive place for generations to come. With this award, the project team plans to implement a water-monitoring action plan that will provide local stakeholders and policy makers with access to long-term ecological datasets for Galveston Bay. By communicating this information to the greater Houston community, the project team hopes to help address chronic and acute challenges that Galveston Bay faces, including oil spills, shipping traffic, development, commercial fishing, and climate change. Working with local partners, the team will extend its regional network while fostering scientific literacy, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, and communicating the value of Bay-wide monitoring efforts.

Strengthening Gulf Coast Resilience by Engaging, Educating, and Empowering Vulnerable Populations
Award Amount:
$377,455
Project Director: Joseph E. Taylor (Franklin’s Promise Coalition)
Project Team Affiliations: Franklin’s Promise Coalition in cooperation with The Corps Network,
University of Arizona, and University of Florida–Gainesville
Overview: Franklin’s Promise Coalition is a regional community coalition that works to enhance residents’ quality of life in Franklin County, Florida, by improving access to services, eliminating disparities, addressing unmet needs, promoting positive youth development, and providing leadership during disasters. With this award, the project team plans to engage people from two sectors—the seafood industry and underserved youth—in environmental stewardship and disaster readiness activities, with the goal of strengthening coastal resilience in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi. By participating in science literacy, leadership, and training activities, the team anticipates that project participants will return to their communities better prepared to help their neighbors become more resilient to disasters and environmental change. The team plans to evaluate what effects these individuals have on their peers using social network analysis.

Supporting the Isle de Jean Charles Community Resettlement Through Cross-Boundary Networks and Knowledge Synthesis
Award Amount:
$200,120
Project Director: Alessandra Jerolleman (Lowlander Center)
Project Team Affiliations: Lowlander Center in cooperation with
Evans + Lighter, Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, Inc., MASS Design Group, Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative, and Tulane University
Overview: Based in the bayous of Louisiana, the Lowlander Center is a nonprofit organization supporting lowland people and places through education, research and advocacy. With this award, the project team plans to develop cross-boundary networks of professionals and experts to support the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw as the community resettles from southeastern Louisiana to land that is less environmentally vulnerable. By pilot-testing an approach that synthesizes scientific, professional, and community knowledge—as well as outreach and educational activities—the project team hopes to create a model that other coastal communities can adapt to address the social and environmental challenges that they face.

Sustainable Solutions During Disaster
Award Amount:
$414,150
Project Director: Chandra Brown (Lifelines Counseling Services [formerly Family Counseling Center of Mobile, Inc.])
Project Team Affiliations: Lifelines Counseling Services in cooperation with University of South Alabama
Overview: Lifelines Counseling Services works to facilitate positive changes in individuals, families and communities in Mobile and southwestern Alabama by providing comprehensive education, referral and counseling services for social, emergency and financial problems. The project team plans to use this award to provide disaster-related trauma and mental health training for community members, mental health professionals, and social service providers; to support a train-the-trainer model to sustain this network over time; and to partner with the University of South Alabama to develop mental health trauma training courses in existing undergraduate and graduate programs. Through this project, Lifelines Counseling Services will work to increase community resilience and reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health services in southwestern Alabama.

Using Island Institute Cross-Boundary Connections to Build Disaster Preparedness in Maine and Beyond
Award Amount:
$240,480
Project Director: Suzanne Arnold (Island Institute)
Project Team Affiliations: Island Institute in cooperation with
Bowdoin College and University of Maine at Machias
Overview: The Island Institute works to sustain Maine's island and remote coastal communities, and exchanges ideas and experiences to further community sustainability in Maine and beyond. With this award, the project team plans to partner with coastal communities to determine the risks they face from storms and sea-level rise and the strategies they can use to increase their resilience. Working with a network of 150 participants, the team will create multimedia case studies, provide community-based support and training, and share project impacts and lessons learned through national networks. The team’s goal is to ensure that fishing communities in Maine and beyond can continue to make their living from the sea.

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