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MRDF is a 501 (c) 3 organization, recognized as tax-exempt under the IRS code. We are funded by a combination of user fees, grants, and donations.


Protect Our Reefs

Since its inception, MRDF has relied on a variety of grants for specific projects, workshops, and purposes. Most recently, MRDF has received grants from the Protect Our Reefs License Plate program, which is funded from sales of the Protect Our Reefs license plate and administered by Mote Marine Laboratory. Learn more at We have also received grants from the Disney Conservation Fund and the Ocean Reef Conservation Association.

Over the years, MRDF has received grants from organizations such as the Kress Foundation, NOAA, the Florida Advisory Council on Environmental Education, and other agencies. Previous grants are listed below.


Donated Boats Adam The donations program has been very successful in raising money to accomplish Foundation goals that are not funded by user fees or grants, such as renovating our facility.

The Houseboat Adam is one of the vessels that was donated to MRDF. It is currently for sale.

In 2000, we embarked on an ambitious, multi-year renovation plan for our coastal campus in Key Largo, Florida. The funds to accomplish this were largely raised through a thriving boat donation department from 1990 to the present time. We currently have one boat for sale, the Houseboat Adam. If you are interested in donating your boat to MRDF, please contact our office at 800-741-1139.

Additional donors have stepped up with straight cash contributions, earmarked for our facilities renovation projects. Such donations may be claimed as a donation for tax purposes; please check with your personal CPA for your particular situation.



2014 Disney Conservation Fund, Seagrass Surveys. This grant was made to increase our survey sites from one to three in response to a request from Seagrass Watch, an international agency that monitors seagrass health worldwide.

2014 Ocean Reef Conservation Association, Phytoplankton Monitoring. This grant was awarded to solicit community participation in phytoplankton collection and monitoring.

2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 Protect Our Reefs Grant, Coral Reef Classroom. 227 middle and high school students from four Upper Keys schools were given a class in coral reef ecology, and conducted water quality tests and snorkeled the coral reef, many for the first time even though they live here. This grant was first awarded in 2010 and served 193 students that first year.

2011 Protect Our Reefs Grant, Phytoplankton Monitoring. A small grant was awarded to purchase a second high-power microscope to aid in our participation in the Phytoplankton Monitoring Network, and to use it in developing a curriculum unit for phytoplankton for use in the MarineLab program.

2010 Protect Our Reefs Grant, Water Quality Monitoring. This grant provided for the purchase of a YSI Water Quality Meter with a multi-sensor sonde, to be used in water quality data gathering by MarineLab students.

1996 Florida Advisory Council on Environmental Education. Grant to present a one-week workshop on the political and economic realities of environmental protection to 70 Florida middle and high school science teachers.

1995-1996 Environmental-Quest. Appropriated funding in South Carolina for 1200 at-risk 6th graders to attend a three-day program at the Tugaloo Environmental Education Center.

1994 South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation. Organized and presented two, one-week workshops for 70 teachers from South Carolina at the Tugaloo Environmental Education Center. Topics included forest and aquatic ecology and resource management, and teachers left with a curriculum resource for their classroom.

1990 Florida Advisory Council on Environmental Education. Organized and presented a 14 day workshop on Marine Ecology & Technology, modeled on the workshops funded by a NOAA Appropriation, for 69 middle and high school science teachers.

1992-1996 South Florida Water Management District. Hosted and provided boats for the "Freshwater at the Land's End" water resources workshops. The workshops, designed for Broward and Dade County teachers, involve the hydrology of the Everglades system and South Florida's water supply.

1989 Palm Beach County School Board (FL). Organized and presented a teacher inservice workshop on seagrass, mangrove, and coral reef ecology.

1986-1987 Broward County School Board. (FL). Organized and presented inservice workshops to Broward County teachers on seagrass, mangrove, and coral reef ecology.



Water Bottle Filling StationIn 2012, the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce gave MRDF a $1000 donation, from funds raised by their Radio Auction. The funds were used to purchase a water bottle filling station, to eliminate disposable plastic water bottles on the MRDF campus.

2012. Anonymous gift of $3,000.

2012. Gift of $7,500 from a MRDF Board member.




1991 Kress Foundation Grant. Using marine accretion techniques developed in MRDF's lagoon, this grant funded an experimental use of these techniques to strengthen the submerged foundations of buildings in Venice, Italy.

1989-1991 NOAA-funded Doppler study on human subjects living in saturation.

1977 Earth Resources Application Institute Westinghouse Corp. Designed diving and life support systems for National Underwater Laboratory Systems Program.