Heartwired Ocean Messaging Grants

Heartwired Ocean Messaging Grants

Image: Johana Vicente

Goodwin Simon Strategic Research and Wonder: Strategies for Good have provided cash and/or technical assistance grants to a diverse set of non-profit organizations to implement the recommendations found in Heartwired to Love the Ocean and test the impact of Heartwired Messaging in their own work. Learn about the exciting field-testing projects of our grantee partners.

Project Descriptions



Fossil fuel dollars have targeted Latinx organizations, aiming to create campaigns with Latinx voices supporting the opening or expansion of offshore drilling in areas like Florida and North Carolina. Many Latinx cultures have historically connected to oceans. Azul plans to collect and elevate the voices of Latinx ocean stakeholders: business owners, beachgoers, hospitality industry, and their love for a clean, oil-free ocean in order to showcase the various opinions Latinx have in regards to offshore drilling and coastal job opportunities. Through this project, Azul will identify spokespeople, share Heartwired Messaging approaches, and help them develop their stories to share. The project will develop a social media kit for partners and allies and will publish stories on a website, through diverse media outlets and social media platforms. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 

California Coastkeeper Alliance

California Coastkeeper Alliance will use Heartwired Messaging to address targeted policy issues, focusing on actionable solutions to increase ocean climate resiliency through improved coastal water quality and enhanced marine habitat protections. To galvanize support for their advocacy, California Coastkeeper Alliance will leverage their Blue Business Council to communicate the economic and social benefits of a healthy ocean and coast. The Blue Business Council is a network of over 130 informed business partners, ranging from small local shops to multinational corporations, who share a clean water ethic and an interest in using their brands to communicate for stronger ocean policies. California Coastkeeper Alliance will incorporate Heartwired Messaging into their Blue Business Council’s communication plan to bolster the narrative that a healthy ocean and coast are critical to California’s economy, which can help California Coastkeeper Alliance to better relate their oceans work to audiences with conservative political ideologies. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 

Center for American Progress

Center for American Progress will collect, vet, and strategically deploy storytellers to elevate ocean conservation in the national narrative using Heartwired Messaging principles. Using messages that align with the Heartwired Ocean Mindsets, Center for American Progress will use social media ads to recruit storytellers via Facebook and Instagram. Recruitment will yield a group of individuals with the most compelling ocean stories that connect with each Heartwired Ocean Mindset, that correspond to key demographics (e.g., communities of color and young people), and represent key coastal states (e.g., New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida). Following recruitment, Center for American Progress will deploy each storyteller in a strategic way. Depending on the story, the news cycle, and the individual’s preferences and strengths, Center for American Progress will choose from a menu of deployment options, such as filming a video of a storyteller and circulating it via social media; pitching storytellers to talk to reporters; drafting and placing op-eds; and recommending storytellers for rallies, testimony, and other earned media events. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 


Ocean scientists have vital information to share and can be compelling messengers, but they often lack the skills to effectively engage with audiences outside their field, and struggle to find time and support to do so. COMPASS will host two ninety-minute webinars for ocean scientists, focusing on how Heartwired to Love the Ocean can be used in tandem with the Message Box, a tool at the core of their communication workshops with scientists. The webinars will include hands-on practice in breakout rooms where scientists can identify their messages and then hone them for one of the audiences described in the guide. Award: Technical Assistance. 

Corazón Latino

Corazón Latino will develop a campaign to educate, mobilize, and empower residents on ocean conservation in the Northeast Ecological Corridor Nature Reserve of Puerto Rico. The campaign will educate the public about the negative impacts on the ocean of everyday choices like the use of single-use plastic and empower residents and visitors of the Northeast Ecological Corridor Nature Preserve to advocate for policy changes needed to enhance and strengthen land and ocean conservation in Puerto Rico. Using recommendations from Heartwired to Love the Ocean, Corazón Latino will train grassroots leaders on effectively communicating about ocean conservation to their communities. They will also conduct A/B testing on Facebook to determine whether Heartwired Messaging motivates more people to take action. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 

Creation Justice Ministries

Creation Justice Ministries plans to harness the untapped potential in their network of faith leaders to advance ocean protection ministry. To move audiences up a ladder of engagement, they will begin by creating a short video encouraging faith leaders to take action to protect the ocean. Creation Justice Ministries will recruit diverse faith leaders, including leaders from historically Black churches and emerging faith leaders. The project will also test email messaging strategies, develop social media ads, and engage faith leaders in all states in monthly calls to develop relationships and to disseminate information and opportunities for engagement. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 

Environment America Research & Policy Center

Activating the Amazing Wildlife, Family Traditions, and All Senses Mindsets, Environment America Research & Policy Center will test Heartwired Messaging with voters on the phone and with environmentalists via email in inland and coastal states. In both scenarios, people will be asked to either call or email their senator and ask them to support the idea of protecting 30% of our oceans by 2030. The study will measure the percentage of people who took the requested action, and results will be analyzed to determine how well each message performed in the different frames tested. A messaging memo will be created to guide Environment America’s communications related to Marine Protected Areas, which will include the key elements of the message, suggested images, a 30-second elevator pitch, and a three-minute campaign story for their website. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 

Friends of the Mariana Trench

Friends of the Mariana Trench plans to develop localized Heartwired Messaging to overcome misinformation about the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument and to develop their mission to grow ocean lovers from within their community. In addition to re-working existing content on their blog and public service announcements, they will develop new messaging to educate and reinforce the importance of this ocean sanctuary and other Marine Protected Areas in relationship with sustainable fisheries practices, and how their long-term success depends on traditional knowledge, local culture, and community support. Messages will be tested in a controlled A/B email experiment among existing audiences. Award: Technical Assistance. 

Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance

The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance will develop a project that showcases a unique group of ocean champions – the blue-collar, hard-working, “salty” American commercial fisherman that plies the waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) to deliver fresh, sustainably-harvested seafood to millions of Americans. The project will produce a series of professionally printed and electronic “fishermen and seafood supplier profiles” that will showcase these ocean champions alongside conservation messages and calls to action. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance.  

Healthy Oceans Coalition

Healthy Oceans Coalition will put Heartwired Messaging to work in the communications materials they develop and share with their membership. They plan to integrate new Heartwired Messaging into their communications on their website, social media platforms, in issue-specific toolkits, and advocacy training materials. Health Oceans Coalition will draft an action alert based on the new Heartwired Messaging and will track its success. The new messaging will be utilized in their spring 2020 training in Washington state. Award: Technical Assistance. 

Hispanic Access Foundation

Por La Creación Faith-based Alliance, an initiative of Hispanic Access Foundation, develops stewards of God’s creation by educating and engaging this generation to leave a legacy for the future. Consisting of more than 60 state-based Latino/a faith leaders with strong local and regional networks, these members work closely with Hispanic Access Foundation to elevate their voices and represent their communities on important environmental issues including public lands, the Colorado River, safe and affordable drinking water, air quality and pollution, access to outdoor recreation, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This project will engage four state-based leaders from Texas, Idaho, California and Nevada to design and implement a national field-testing campaign during World Oceans Week. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 

Inland Ocean Coalition

Inland Ocean Coalition will use controlled A/B testing to assess which Heartwired Mindsets resonate most with their audiences. Communication materials will incorporate content that addresses issues within the Inland Ocean Coalition’s program areas, including plastic pollution, offshore oil development, national marine monuments and sanctuaries, watershed health, sustainable fisheries, and more. They will test the effectiveness of different communication strategies in inspiring action through their monthly newsletter, website, and social media. Additionally, Inland Ocean Coalition will collect qualitative data through online surveys, interviews, deep listening, focus groups, and/or videos from supporters to help inform and create a robust and effective Inland Ocean Coalition communications strategy. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance.   

Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association

In relation to their work around the working waterfront in Maine, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association plans to create a new campaign: “You don’t have to be a fisherman to care about the working waterfront.” By considering Heartwired Mindsets and looking at problems that exist around the waterfront that impact fishing families such as affordability, new development, and sea-level rise, Maine Coast Fisherman’s Association plans to broaden their reach and educate people about both fishing and the environment. Award: Technical Assistance. 

Marine Conservation Institute

Using at least three of the six Heartwired Ocean Mindsets and aligned message frames, Marine Conservation Institute will field-test various messages, messengers, communication channels (e.g., email vs aquariums vs web ads), audiences and message targets to see which are the most effective as educational and call-to-action tools when contrasted against a control message. The results of testing will be a set of ocean message mindsets that work best and a set of resonant messengers and stories. In addition, they will identify preferred audiences, targets for calls-to- action, and a set of responsive demographic segments. The road-tested communication tools will then be used more extensively and for longer periods to help win the California Seamounts campaign. Award: Technical Assistance. 

National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

Using strategies and messaging from Heartwired to Love the Ocean, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation will build and implement the “Discover Wonder” campaign. “Discover Wonder” will gather written, verbal, video, and photographic stories of how people are stewards of our ocean, particularly ocean sanctuaries, to encourage people to discover the wonders that exist out of sight beneath the waves, but not out of reach. The campaign will use stories to invite the audience to explore sanctuaries for themselves, through multi-channel outreach, including a dedicated webpage, a branded video that can be used across platforms, digital media and ads, personal videos by participants on their own social media pages, and story placement with media partners. The campaign will also develop a toolkit to share with local partners to promote individual sanctuaries. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance.  

National Ocean Protection Coalition

National Ocean Protection Coalition seeks to create new organizational Heartwired narratives about their coalition and mission with the goal of inviting a more diverse set of partners to engage in their work. They also plan to update their messaging content with a greater focus on the need for significantly increasing ocean sanctuaries in U.S. waters, with connections to climate change, biodiversity loss, and the impacts on people. They will collaborate with their coalition partners to test Heartwired Ocean Mindsets that will invite diverse partners to engage in the coalition and advocate for strongly protected ocean sanctuaries. Award: Technical Assistance. 

National Parks Conservation Association

Capitalizing on the love of America’s national parks, National Parks Conservation Association will develop and test messaging to activate the All Senses, Amazing Wildlife, Law and Policies, and Family Traditions Mindsets. The messages will educate audiences on the threats of offshore drilling to national parks, coastal communities, wildlife and our country’s heritage. Using Heartwired Messaging principles, including a focus on the human impacts of offshore drilling, they will craft new messages to test and contrast the Heartwired Ocean Mindsets to determine how they resonate with new and existing audiences of park supporters. Messages will be tested via social media and email and will include messaging pushes around timely news hooks related to offshore drilling as well as softer days of recognition such as World Oceans Day, Endangered Species Day, World Water Day, etc. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 

The Ocean Project

The Ocean Project proposes to work in collaboration with the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP) to field-test Heartwired Messaging at four aquariums with an interest in advancing support for national ocean sanctuaries and a commitment to including and engaging diverse audiences. This project will develop common messaging employing the “redemption frame” and include a desired action (such as signing a postcard or fingerprinting a mural) for visitors to demonstrate their commitment. Each aquarium will evaluate the results of visitors’ experiences, including comparative results by age and ethnicity, gender identification and visit motivation (as proxy for three relevant mindsets — Amazing Wildlife, Family Traditions, and All Senses). Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 

The Pew Charitable Trusts

The Pew Charitable Trusts publishes three regionally-focused newsletters that disseminate news and development regarding their U.S. ocean conservation work. Their goal is to increase the number and diversity of newsletter subscribers in specific states in which they will advocate for coastal habitat conservation measures. Through this project, they will survey existing subscribers to learn more about where they live, their backgrounds, and their interest in the ocean and the coasts, and uncovering which Heartwired Ocean Mindsets resonate with existing subscribers and determining which may connect new audiences to Pew’s work. They plan to use the survey results to inform a social media and banner-ad campaign to attract new subscribers. Award: Technical Assistance. 

Post-Landfill Action Network

Post-Landfill Action Network plans to visit and support eight college campuses in or near coastal communities that are actively running campaigns to eliminate all single-use disposable plastics. During their visits, they will gather photos, videos, and interviews that will inform and develop content and a messaging strategy that will inspire campuses around the country to lead these campaigns. Post-Landfill Action Network will beta-test this messaging strategy with at least five campuses, and ultimately compile and publicly release a messaging toolkit that will be used by hundreds of campuses and thousands of students, and can be shared with communities outside of their college campus sphere of influence. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 


Sachamama will develop and lead #NoSeasPlastico, a targeted two-month digital campaign on plastic pollution and ocean conservation, culminating on a beach clean-up and day of action in South Florida. Sachamama will test the effectiveness of three messages from Heartwired to Love the Ocean. The campaign will design one field-testing experiment in two different scenarios, and benchmark the results against each other. Both scenarios will use Facebook and Instagram to distribute their messaging content. During beach clean-up and day of action, Sachamama will have registration forms to measure attendance. This will enable Sachamama to compare original registration in landing pages to attendees lists and measure the response of the messages (the ability to mobilize from the digital space to on-the-ground actions). Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 

Santa Barbara Channelkeeper

As Santa Barbara Channelkeeper prepares to celebrate their 20th anniversary in 2020, their project seeks to learn more about what values and needs underlie different sectors of their community and what motivates them to take action on environmental issues. They will incorporate Heartwired Messaging into A and B versions of their year-end fundraising appeal letter and develop focus groups and surveys to test messaging and to learn more about the values, environmental concerns and motivations of different sectors of their community. Santa Barbara Channelkeeper will then develop collateral (videos, posts on their website and social media, blogs, emails, direct mail, press releases, op-eds, paid ads, printed and digital 20 Year Impact Report) for their 20th anniversary communications and fundraising campaign utilizing Heartwired Messaging and that incorporates lessons learned from above. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 

Story of Stuff

With the goal of exploring communication strategies to increase understanding among ocean lovers around the role of the fossil fuel industry in plastic production and marine plastic pollution, Story of Stuff will test Heartwired Messaging against standard Story of Stuff messaging. Targeting key audiences and geographies that are oceanside and/or directly impacted by plastic pollution, three messaging conditions will be tested via Facebook Ads. Story of Stuff will then integrate Heartwired Messaging into existing Story of Plastic and oceans-related media and communications collateral and create a two- to three-minute original short documentary on the impacts of plastic pollution and racial and environmental justice in Bayview-Hunters Point, a highly disinvested, majority African-American oceanside neighborhood in San Francisco, California. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 

Surfrider Foundation

Surfrider Foundation will host a video contest for student clubs. The “Coastal Defender” Video Contest will encourage Surfrider student clubs to create either a short-form (less than 45 seconds) and/or longer-form (up to two minutes) videos. Students will be encouraged to showcase their passion for the ocean and the issues threatening the health, safety and livability of the ocean and the communities that depend on it, ending with a call to action or “how-to” get involved. Awards will be given for “Most Inspiring”, “Biggest Impact”, “Most Creative” and “People’s Choice”. The contest provides a platform to introduce the Heartwired to Love the Ocean guide and principles to this youth-based audience and to provide instruction and technical support on how to integrate Heartwired concepts into outward messaging. Award: Cash Grant and Technical Assistance. 

World Wildlife Fund

World Wildlife Fund-US has more than one hundred staff who are responsible for communicating about ocean conservation with a cross-section of audiences, including civically engaged people, news media professionals, corporate executives, government agency staff and policymakers and scientists.  In the first phase of this project, World Wildlife Fund-US will convene an internal workshop for their staff on effectively messaging ocean conservation guided by the learnings from Heartwired to Love the Ocean. In a second phase, they will work to develop and deploy Heartwired Messaging with a focus on identifying specific opportunities to reach Hispanic audiences in the United States. Award: Technical Assistance.