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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Education, Educational Services, Environment, Environmental Education, Marine Science & Oceanography, Technology, Wildlife Preservation & Protection

Mission: MSI's mission is to cultivate a responsibility for the natural environment and our human communities through interdisciplinary science education.

Results: MSI has been conducting watershed education programs on and around the San Francisco Bay and Coast for 42 years. We estimate that a total of 1 million students have enriched their understanding of science and the environment through our programs, and as a result are living their lives with a greater sense of responsibility for the environment. MSI currently works with 50,000 students of all ages each year. At least 75% of teachers rebook our services year after year. Most our growth can be attributed to word of mouth promotion by satisfied teachers and other educators. More than 3,000 teacher surveys collected in the last 3 program years reveal an extremely high satisfaction rate. Teachers rated MSI with a nearly perfect score of 3.9+ on a scale of 1-4. On those same surveys, teachers also scored our programs an average of 3.3 on a scale of 1 - 4 when asked “How likely is this program to increase your students’ understanding of science?” The most common remark by teachers is about how impressed they are at MSI’s ability to engage students in active learning of science, and capture the attention of even the toughest cases of wandering minds or disinterested students. Students we taught in our early years are now in their 50’s. They have passed on their love and appreciation of the environment to their children and grandchildren. Teachers who went through our program when they were students come back to us to provide the MSI experience for their students. Science teachers using the Institute programs have been awarded Presidential Science Teaching recognition, and then commented, “It all began on that ship on the Bay”.  Many MSI “alumni” students and staff play active roles in environmental conservation or in other sciences. Some are even captains of industry.

Target demographics: Students of all ages and schools throughout Northern California

Direct beneficiaries per year: 55,000

Geographic areas served: Northern California

Programs: MSI serves 55,000 students each year by making them marine scientists for the day by putting them in touch with their local habitat and using scientific equipment on our 90-foot research vessel and hands-on programs on our San Francisco Bayside beach.

Community Stories

5 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've worked with many nonprofits as a development professional. Marine Science Institute (MSI) has the utmost integrity in their financial practices. They are lean and efficient. They run a tight ship. (pun intended) And their mission, education and conservation messages are felt deeply by the thousands of students and teachers who come to learn about the incredible importance of the San Francisco Bay each year. MSI has earned the confidence of dozens of foundations and corporations who support their unique hands-on science education programs each year. Donors who give to MSI are people who hold the belief that the future of our planet rests on the shoulders of children and adults who understand their surroundings and who feel personal responsibility for stewarding all living creatures and ecosystems.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Marine Science Institute for over 10 years, from educational programs to volunteerism they have constantly exceeded my expectations. Their teaching staff is by far the most knowledgeable within their fields and remarkably friendly and patient with all of their students. I cannot recommend Marine Science Institute enough. Thank you for all that you do.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a former MSI employee who now teaches in a public school that uses MSI educational programs. I loved working at MSI and felt that the staff and facilities were top notch. All of the instructors were highly educated and compassionate about teaching students of all ages.

As a teacher, I work directly with the scheduling coordinator to plan field trips for my school. She is organized, flexible and extremely helpful especially when trying to plan around all of the special days and testing that my school has.

MSI is an outstanding organization and that I am proud to have been a part of. I am excited that my students are able to do programs with them.


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Some of my team members and I from the Tech Museum were invited by MSI for their 2 hour bay voyage on Saturday, August 21st. As we all work with children, it was fun to see how the kids were completely engaged in all the activities, from trolling the bay to examining mud samples, and even touching a shark (I didn't do that, but I did hold a shrimp). The team running the voyage was extremely knowledgeable and also extremely fun, and encouraged us to discover and explore as we wished. The only thing I would have done differently was to bring chapstick, but they warned me to beforehand, so that was my error. Didn't hinder the great time we all had, though! You can see pics of the voyage at this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/medanie/sets/72157624777841200/show/


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I recently participated in MSI's "Ecotour" program, a two-hour, on-water experience to help the general public better understand the San Francisco Bay's functions and characteristics. The tour was informative, well-organized, and engaging. Adults and children seemed to have a good time. I will be taking a group of adults on the tour in a few weeks and am very excited about this program!