Impact of the RAE Alliance
Founded in 1995, Restore America’s Estuaries is an alliance of 10 regional organizations working within their communities to protect and restore our nation’s coasts, bays, and estuaries. Alongside our member groups and nonprofit, government, and private sector partners, RAE continues to be a leading voice in Washington, D.C. for the advancement of science-based coastal restoration and policy to support coastal communities.
In 2021, RAE awarded more than $2.5 million in grants to 33 organizations in 12 states through four grant programs. Working in partnership with funders in the public and private sector, we facilitate on-the-ground restoration to better protect communities from floods and drought, improve water quality by mitigating pollution, protect blue carbon ecosystems, construct living shorelines, and fund innovative research to improve our knowledge and understanding of the valuable ecosystem services healthy estuaries provide.
We also made significant changes to our grant programs in 2021 to break down barriers to entry for traditionally marginalized communities. Our SNEP Watershed Implementation Grants Program instituted a match bank to lessen the burden of smaller community-based organizations that may not have access to the full 33% federal match requirement by supplementing extra funding from other awardees. The 2022 round of the National Estuary Program Coastal Watersheds Grant is offering a federal match waiver for qualified applicants to open doors for more diverse applicants and expand the reach of these programs into underserved communities. Lastly, we have inserted language into each of our grant applications that considers the positive impact any funding may have on traditionally underrepresented and diverse communities, first piloted in our Caring for our Coasts grant program. Moving forward, each proposal will be scored with consideration for its efforts to enhance diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in the coastal sector.
More than $2.5 million in grants was awarded in 2021.
RAE awarded grants to 33 organizations in 2021.
Grantees were in 12 states through four grant programs.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice
In 2019, RAE updated our strategic plan to include a new core pillar explicitly focused on the need to change and expand how estuary and coastal conservation is practiced: We aim to engage a broader, more inclusive community to increase the scale of our efforts and achieve big wins that lead to healthy and resilient bays and estuaries. That same year, we hosted our first workshop with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Avarna Group aimed at improving diversity and equity in staff retention and recruitment. On the heels of this success, we were proud to launch the Inclusive Coasts Initiative in 2021, again with support from NSF.
We aim to engage a broader, more inclusive community to increase the scale of our efforts and achieve big wins that lead to healthy and resilient bays and estuaries.
Among other objectives, the Inclusive Coasts Initiative will produce two workshop series – one for grantmakers and one for project implementers – designed to target the four areas within the DEIJ acronym for grantmaking and project implementation processes. Additionally, a cross sectoral working group will guide and contribute to the creation of the material, with the ultimate curricula being designed by an expert in DEIJ grant issues. RAE will also collaborate with the working group, consultants, and workshop participants to produce best practice guidance and tactical management plans for grantmakers and project implementers – all of which will be made available to the public.
The RAE Coastal & Estuarine Summit is the largest gathering of coastal restoration professionals, policy makers, and enthusiasts in the U.S. Every other year, more than 1,000 people have joined RAE and our member groups in various coastal cities. The Summit takes a deep dive into key topics such as coastal blue carbon, living shorelines, natural infrastructure, estuary ecosystems, and habitat restoration. Experts share their research and success stories through presentations, posters, and multiple networking events.
In addition to the Summit, RAE also hosts the Living Shorelines Tech Transfer Workshop, most recently in Cape May, NJ in 2021. The Living Shorelines Workshop is aimed at sharing expertise and technical knowhow within the coastal restoration community to improve shoreline protection, shoreline armoring, and share site specific living shoreline examples with a national audience.
As part of our commitment to improve access to our trainings and events, Restore America’s Estuaries has made a transition to include virtual opportunities for attendees to join. This strategy, as recommended through our Inclusive Coasts Initiative, opens doors for students, early-career professionals, and other members of our community that may not have the capacity to travel to still participate in our events.
Congressional Estuary Caucus
Along with our partners at NERRA and ANEP, RAE has facilitated Congressional action to advance the science of natural-infrastructure and blue carbon, among other priorities, into meaningful legislation that better protects and provides for coastal communities. This includes passage of the inaugural National Estuaries Week in 2007 and subsequent validation from Congress that estuaries and coasts are vital to the future of the American economy, national security, and way of life. Additionally, Members of the Caucus have proven that coastal issues are not partisan and consistently propose legislation based on science and research to increase funding for coasts and improve coastal resilience.
Co-Chairs of the Congressional Estuary Caucus
Rep. Suzanne Bonamicci
Rep. Rick Larsen
Rep. Brian Mast
Rep. Bill Posey
At RAE, we recognize that we are only as strong as the partnerships we build. We want to extend our sincerest gratitude to everyone who has helped us along the way, and we look forward to future success. Help us turn the tide for estuaries!