The Lenfest Ocean Program funds research projects that address the needs of marine and coastal stakeholders and supports grantees who will engage with the people most likely to use the results. 

The Lenfest approach to grantmaking

Stakeholders and decision-makers are more inclined to use scientific information when they have the opportunity to contribute to the research process from the start. The Lenfest team works with coastal communities, ocean industries, marine management agencies, and other stakeholders to better understand their knowledge gaps and decision-making needs and then collaborates with scientific experts to design practical research projects that address those challenges. 

The scientists, in turn, frequently partner with the stakeholders and decision-makers on the creation of the research project idea and may even engage stakeholders as advisers during the research phase to ensure that the findings are as useful as possible. 

Once a grant is awarded, program staff work with the grantee to give all interested parties the chance to understand the project, raise issues, and identify external factors that may need to be considered. The partnership between Lenfest and the scientist continues even after the research is published, with a focus on communicating ideas and results to individuals who can use them. 

For each supported project, researchers must submit their results to peer-reviewed literature for independent review. Lenfest provides funds for researchers to publish in open-access journals and may develop summary materials for use by the public.  

Researchers or stakeholders interested in partnering with the Lenfest Ocean Program should visit the Research Focus page for more information.   

Lessons learned

To ensure the program achieves its goal of supporting useful science, staff collect a set of metrics for each project. These evaluations assess whether decision-makers or stakeholders used the information produced and why and whether the project advanced understanding of scientific questions, built relationships between researchers and decision-makers, and created a scientific foundation for emerging issues. The program also routinely publishes project summaries that detail these metrics and describe the evaluation process. 

The Lenfest Ocean Program was established in 2004 by the Lenfest Foundation and is managed by The Pew Charitable Trusts.