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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


Rating: 5

Marine Science Institute summer camps offered my three children the chance to get dirty and learn about marine life in the San Francisco Bay through fantastic hands-on activities. No other program has had such impact on my kids, now young adults. I believe the MSI summer camps instilled values including the importance of protecting living creatures and their environments and brought about a curiosity about nature which is still seen in them. MSI has a dynamite program with extraordinary staff that is not only exciting and fun, but really takes “hands-on” experiences to the highest level! A ride on the Brownlee 90-ft research vessel is a MUST! There is nothing like being out on the Bay for a day, never happier than when we drag the net up to the touch pools and we get to lean in and see a bat ray and a leopard shark and everything is exciting!! We even met Alexandra Cousteau at the 40th Anniversary Party! I hope MSI is still going strong in another 45 years!! We are so glad to have been a part of this wonderful organization!



Rating: 5

Provides great educational experiences to kids of all ages through school, camps, scouts, etc.


Rating: 5

MSI provides a much needed vehicle for connecting the community to our bay and ocean, whether its through coastal clean-ups, low tide walks, summer camps, school outreach programs, ship rides, etc....the list goes on and on!! The staff is excited about what they do and is eager to share their wealth of information. Thank you MSI!!!

Wych S.


Rating: 5

MSI offers an engaging, hands-on experience with well trained, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable instructors who just love to working with children, and it shows in the time and effort that is put in to each of their programs so that they make learning fun, and the kids retain the information.
They have a unique learning experience that gave my daughter the love and enthusiasm for Environmental Issues, both at home and abroad.
She went from Summer Camper, to Intern to her dream job as a full-time staff member.
Can't say enough great things about MSI, just so very happy that they are a part of our life and out community!

Previous Stories

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

“This is and has been an amazing program for many years, Even with limited resources,they consistantly have the best hands on and teaching staff around. From their camper programs to Boat trips and the enthusiastic staff, this is truly a gem in the bay area. We are so lucky to have programs like this that teach our young people about Marine Science and the needs and care of our Bay and the animals that live there. Your support will help keep this worthwhile program going for generations to come.


Rating: 5

My children adopted a starfish and tiger shark for Hanukkah. They enjoyed a day feeding and caring for their "pets" and the other sea life at MSI. They learned a terrific lesson about giving in the holiday season.