Urban Coast Institute Receives $1.6 Million Grant

The University’s Urban Coast Institute (UCI) received a grant of $1.6 million from The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation supporting their work on the Mid-Atlantic Data Portal in late January.

The Director of the UCI, Tony MacDonald, said, “UCI works with the academic and local communities, and other partners to inform ocean policy and management decisions using the best information available.” 

“One of UCI’s goals is to monitor the expertise of the University and our partners to have a real impact, not only in the lives of our students, but also outside the ivy walls of the University,” MacDonald continued. “While Monmouth is not a major ocean research institution, with the UCI we have established a role to play in tapping into the research to focus our efforts on advancing good ocean policy.” 

The Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal is an intricate program run by the UCI and its partners, along with the joint collaboration of states all along the Mid-Atlantic region.

 It is an online platform that centralizes data, allowing state, federal, local users, and stakeholders to visualize, and analyze the ocean through state-of-the art mapping and visualization technology, according to the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal’s official website.

“The generous grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation provides funding for direct research efforts with partner institutions on the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal.  The outcomes of the research are important to shaping science-based public policy, which is one of the core strengths of our Urban Coast Institute,” said University President Paul R. Brown.

“For Monmouth University, the grant will strengthen our resources and our interdisciplinary efforts as a leader in coastal policy.  The Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal is an important regional resource, and the grant ensures that the University will continue to play an important role in the ongoing conversation about coastal resilience.” Brown continued.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is one of the country’s top 10 largest grant donors. It is an organization committed to making positive impacts on society by supporting bold ideas. 

It was founded in 2008 by Gordon and Betty Moore. The organization has a long interest in ocean planning and marine conservation, in many parts of North America. 

However, before their most recent donation to the UCI, never had they aided a Mid-Atlantic program.

MacDonald said, “At the same time we were discussing our previous work that we had been doing with the [Gordon and Betty Moore] Foundation, the Obama Administration committed federal agencies to focus their efforts over the next two years in working with the states and groups like ours in the Mid-Atlantic, and New England areas to complete regional ocean plans.  

“Fortunately, the Foundation appreciated what we are trying to do and determined that it was worthy of additional support,” said MacDonald.

In 2014, the University’s Urban Coast Initiative received a $5 million challenge grant. This meant that $3 million would be given to the UCI for their work from an anonymous donor if they were capable of raising the other $2 million by the end of December 2014. The UCI was successful at accomplishing this challenge. Combining this grant, with the newly earned $1.6 million from The Gordon and Betty Moore foundation the UCI and its partners are able to improve their programs, and continue their efforts to create a state of the art ocean information platform,  as stated in an article published in The Outlook on October 1, 2014. 

“This generous grant, along with the recently successful $5 million fundraising campaign for the Marine Science and Policy Initiative solidifies our place as an emerging coastal and ocean  policy center that will create many opportunities in the future,” said MacDonald.

 “Opportunities for students to get real world experience are invaluable in education. Being able to gain skills with various machinery makes Monmouth students more marketable, and more prepared for the road ahead,” continued MacDonald. 

“Since joining us, President Brown makes a point to say that we are trying to prepare our students for the future, and I think Monmouth and programs like the UCI are doing just that,” said Mara Cige, a marine and environmental biology and policy student.

She worked with UCI as part of the Monmouth Summer Research Program under Marine Scientist, James Nickels and was also a recipient of the Heidi Lynn Sculthorpe research grant. 

The UCI was founded in 2005. It was established to support the management and conservation of coastal and ocean resources, as well as the development of sustainable coastal communities. 

The UCI, however, will not be the only organization benefiting from this generous donation. Numerous associations collaborate with the UCI, including Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School and Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, The Nature Conservancy, Point 97, and the The University of Delaware’s Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy, and Ecotrust. 

These institutions and organizations also hold the support of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council, a group representing the Governors of the five Mid-Atlantic states from NY to VA.