Aquarium Scholars grant applications open to bring aquatic wonders to Title I eligible schools

An Aquarium scholars participant has a face to face encounter with an Aquarium educator and a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle. [Submitted]

Exciting news for educators! Applications are now open until September 30 for the Aquarium Scholars grant program, which offers funding to provide exciting educational opportunities from the North Carolina Aquariums to students from Title I or Title I eligible schools across the state.

This program endeavors to remove financial barriers that may prevent underserved students in North Carolina from experiencing the Aquariums firsthand. Grant funds are awarded to help cover costs for field trips and special programming at one of the three North Carolina Aquariums or Jennette’s Pier, an onsite educator program at the school or a virtual program with a live Aquarium educator.

Aquarium Scholars students can get up close and personal with inspiring experiences only the Aquariums can offer, like being inches away from a sandbar shark.

Aquarium Scholars is a partnership between the North Carolina Aquariums, North Carolina public schools and the nonprofit North Carolina Aquarium Society made possible through the generosity of private donors.

“We hope teachers will take advantage of this opportunity and apply for an Aquarium Scholars  grant for the coming year,” says Jay Barnes, President and CEO of the North Carolina Aquarium Society. “Our donors provide this funding to make it easy for Title I eligible schools to connect their students with the Aquariums’ amazing programs, exposing them to the wonders of the ocean and natural world.”

Since its inception in 2018, Aquarium Scholars has distributed more than $400,000 in grants, giving educational opportunities to more than 57,000 students from 78 counties across the state. These grants have funded 322 field trips, more than 150 live animal programs in classrooms and 219 virtual programs. This year, a total of $120,000 in mini grants is available for applicants.

“Working in a Title I school, many of our students have never been to the beach or the Aquarium despite living so close to both of them,” said one teacher who received funding for a field trip to the Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores through last year’s grant cycle. “Our standards and curriculum cover many of the things that students can actually see and hear about in person at the Aquarium. Since our students lack so many background experiences and opportunities, teaching in class does not afford them the opportunity to actually see what we are talking about and make connections and anchor knowledge to something they have experienced.”

Aquarium scholars students, like these at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, get excited about science with a hands on beach learning experience.

The application period began on August 1 and continues until September 30. Teachers from Title I or Title I eligible schools can learn more and apply at