Donors Making Waves of Impact


Waves of Impact

Donors make a difference!  Thanks to your generosity, the Ocean Institute is able to host thousands of students on once-in-a-lifetime field trip experiences.

2019 Foundation Wave of Impact:

Sahm Family Foundation

Ocean Institute granted $1 million by the Sahm Family Foundation to establish a shark education center

Read more.

2019 Corporate Wave of Impact:


Ocean Institute are proud to have local Dana Point jewelry designer MantraBand in our family of donors. Through the 1% For The Planet program MantraBand have donated 1% of their sales to Ocean Institute in support of ocean education, research, and conservation. The MantraBand team aims to protect, preserve, and restore the natural environment through their charitable contributions.  

MantraBands promote a lifestyle of optimism, positivity, and mindfulness. MantraBand bracelets are made to inspire and are reminders to choose happiness, to live what you love and to be present in every moment

Through their donations to Ocean Institute, MantraBand are ensuring that the ocean and environment will be healthy for future generations to enjoy, and creating the next-generation of stewards of our ocean.

Thank you MantraBand for your incredible support of the Ocean Institute!

2019 Family Wave of Impact:

Jim and Sue Swenson

Tribute to Jim Swenson

It is with great sadness but warm and rich memories that the Ocean Institute honors the passing of Jim Swenson, a wonderful and caring friend and an enduring example of leadership at its best.

There is little that the Ocean Institute accomplished over the 29 years of Jim’s remarkable tenure on the Board of Directors that does not bear his and his wife Sue’s imprint.  Over 100,000 people a year, young and old, find inspiration in the waterfront campus and modern marine science learning centers nurtured by Jim and Sue. 

Their vision and generosity brought the Pilgrim to Dana Point in the 1980s to create an unparalleled floating maritime classroom and, not long after, the Spirit of Dana Point, which with the Pilgrim, forms the nucleus of the campus we know today.

But the Swensons knew that a beautiful educational facility full of dedicated people was of little value unless children had the means to use it, and yet again Jim and Sue became the driving force behind the growth of the Adopt-A-Class program.  Countless children were introduced to marine life such as hermit crabs, and many of them to their ocean for the first time.

And like a warm southerly breeze over Dana Point Harbor, Jim would delight us with his surprise visits from time to time bringing sweet grapefruit from his garden or his best-in-show peanut brittle.  The holiday season will never be the same without that peanut brittle!

In the words of Mel Chambers, a fellow board member and good friend, “Those of us who knew Jim, along with the children he helped us serve, will never be the same again, not because Jim has left us, but because Jim’s caring presence was such a constant in the life and success of the Ocean Institute.”

Photo gallery
Identifying shark jaws

Adopt-A-Class Thank You Letters


Thanks to our Tall Ships Festival Supporters!

A special thanks to our sponsors for the 2017 Tall Ships Festival! It was wonderful to see so many people gather at our site in Dana Point Harbor over the weekend in celebration of maritime history, the adventures of sailing and the wonders of the ocean!

Blog post

Thank you, The Nicholas Endowment

The Ocean Institute would like to thank The Nicholas Endowment for their continued support throughout the past 10 years. Since 2006, The Nicholas Endowment has given more than $1 million to the Ocean Institute in support of our educational programs and facilities, helping us provide ocean education to students, teachers, and most recently the general public at-large.


Tribute to Stephen Hillenburg
The Washington Post: SpongeBob’s incredible journey from ‘Bob the Sponge’ in a marine institute’s comic book to global stardom

By Meagan Flynn

November 28 at 6:47 AM

The most beloved cartoon sponge of a generation spent most of his life in a pineapple under the sea, but he was born in a marine biology institute in Dana Point, Calif., in 1989.