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Program Development Funds

Note: Program Development funds are awarded on a rolling basis as needed and applicants must be based at a Massachusetts institution to be eligible to receive funding.

Program Development funds are contingent on federal budget appropriations. 


Each year WHOI Sea Grant allocates part of its budget for Program Development (PD) funds. The National Sea Grant Office allows state programs to award these funds to enhance their strategic plan goals. Typical awards are $1,000 - $5,000. Projects exceeding $5,000 should be discussed with the Woods Hole Sea Grant director prior to submission. We strongly encourage all potential applications to reach out to Jennie Rheuban, WHOI Sea Grant’s Research Coordinator via the email to discuss project ideas prior to preparing application materials. Awards are generally for small research projects and proof-of-concept with the intent of seeding an idea for later development into larger funding proposals. Other credible uses of these funds include extension, education, communications, travel, graduate student support, and workshops or conferences. Applicants must express how the proposed project will add value to WHOI Sea Grant’s research, extension, education, and outreach efforts in the program’s current strategic focus areas. The WHOI Sea Grant management team will make decisions on Program Development awards two times per year.

Target Allocation

These funds will be provided to projects that align with WHOI Sea Grant’s strategic goals and objectives. Preference is given to projects for which Sea Grant has a vested interest and those which leverage other resources. Although these funds can be used for workshops, conference, and travel support, less than 25% of the funds will be used in that manner with preference for research, extension, and education-related projects. Development funds are limited such that we often have many more requests for funding than we can support.

To Apply

Applicants should submit their request using the program development form template. A PDF of your proposal may be attached in lieu of completing the "Project Description" box. Principal investigators must submit a two-page resume. All application materials can be submitted electronically to

Proposal Evaluation Criteria

  1. Alignment with WHOI Sea Grant strategic plan
  2. Measurable impact to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  3. Timeliness and urgency of the proposed activity
  4. Potential to leverage other funds
  5. Proof of concept for further development
  6. Commitment from other partners
  7. Fostering relationships with other partners
  8. Innovation and relevance to emerging issues
  9. Timing of decisions, distributions, and amount available

Program Development proposals will be evaluated on a rolling basis as proposals are received.  The amount of funding available will vary from year to year depending on our budget allocation from NOAA Sea Grant.

Related Documents:

Program Development Proposal Form (.doc)
2018-2023 Strategic Plan (.pdf)