SOA's Ocean Leadership Microgrants program supports youth-led grassroots projects that address ocean health challenges anywhere in the world. In its first year, our Microgrants program has granted $144,000 to 90 projects in 40 countries. Here are some of our program highlights:
Average age of project leaders: 26 years old Projects in developing countries: 76% of total funding awarded Projects in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCS): 10% of total funding awarded Projects led by female-identifying grantees: 61% of all projects
In our first year of funding, more than one third of our projects focused on plastic pollution elimination!This #PlasticFreeJuly, we are proud to highlight five of these 32 plastic-related Ocean Leadership Microgrants projects. Each of these have made an impressive impact over the past year on plastic reduction—we're proud to include each one of these leaders (and all of our Microgrant recipients!) among our fierce Alliance members.
Upcycle Africa is transforming the waste crisis in Africa into employment opportunities for marginalized groups. Their programs train and equip women and youth with the skills of transforming plastic waste into products of inherent values—such as building materials, accessories, and garments.
Guardianes de Bocas de Ceniza
Bocas de Ceniza, Colombia, is the location where the Magdalena River flows into the Caribbean Sea. During the last 10 years, this region has fallen into decline by pollution and toxic waste in the river from local industries. Guardianes de Bocas de Ceniza has since developed an educational series to reduce waste and pollution, implemented clean ups, and introduced a citizen-science process that encourages participants to identify and document what's happening. The project will directly benefit the population of Bocas de Cenizas by providing education and reducing riverine and marine pollution .
Uada: Sustainable Packaging and To-Go Materials
Uada aims to replace plastic packaging in the supply chain by making alternative containers using natural materials. The project also aims to educate end users about the plastic waste, and teach them about how to create more environmentally conscious consumption habits. Uada focuses on alternatives to food containers at events (such as festivals) and on food delivery packaging. They incentivize and facilitate a materials upgrade for packaging: their product uses deciduous dried leaf material—which will biodegrade in 30 days—to replace disposable plastic.
Microplastics Study in Spain
This study takes place in the Sanguino River and streams, which are located near a protected coastline in Maro-Cerro Gordo Cliffs Natural Area in Spain. The project includes clean-up activities and monitoring of litter and microplastics in this important area. Previously, the organization associated with this grant (Hombre y Territorio) selected focus sites by identifying areas polluted with intensive agriculture in the region. Now, their primary activities include cleanup and litter characterization, analysis of water samples for microplastics by infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), training citizen scientists to maintain fieldwork, and communicating project impact with local policymakers and stakeholders.
SOA UF Local Waterways Clean-Ups
SOA UF has removed over 40 30-gallon bags of waste over 4 local waterways systems in Gainesville, FL, thereby preventing contamination in nearby marine ecosystems. SOA UF then sorts through and documents the type of waste, notes the details in the CleanSwell Ocean Conservancy app, and then properly disposes of recyclable and non-recyclable items.