ENDOWMENT AND LEGACY GIVING

Securing Our Programs for the Future


Annual support through endowment distributions

Annual support through endowment distributions

Millions of people draw inspiration from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and look to us to be a voice for the ocean and its wildlife. It's a promise we fulfill each day. With your support, we're making a difference; but there is still so much more we can and must do.

We are tackling the gravest threats to ocean health—ones that put at risk not only ocean ecosystems but also our planet's life support system. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and members, we are meeting today's needs—but the challenges ahead are great, and demand greater resources. That's why it is so important we build our endowment to provide ongoing support and secure our programs for the future.

The Aquarium's Endowment Fund for the Future of the Ocean (established in 1996) includes our Board-Designated Fund and permanently designated contributions from our donors. These assets are invested and each year, we withdraw 4 percent of the fund's market value to help support our education initiatives, animal care, exhibits and global ocean conservation programs.

Last year, our endowment total was $237 million and provided over $6 million in critical support for our programs. Thanks to our trustees' commitment, the Board-Designated Fund has grown each year and represents 89 percent of our endowment. The Board-Designated Fund generates much needed support today but it can be used for other purposes. In the face of ever-increasing threats to the ocean, we must build our endowment through individual contributions. Donors who give in this way provide permanent support for our programs that will help us continue to work for a healthy ocean—in perpetuity.

We created the Children's Education Endowment Fund in 2011, to guarantee free admission to the Aquarium for all schoolchildren. Providing free school group visits has been our hallmark since we opened in 1984, and we have welcomed over 2.5 million children free of charge. Contributions to this special endowment will make it possible for future generations of children to enjoy this same opportunity.


Creating a Legacy for the Ocean

Inspiring children to find their voice to create positive change in the world is our most important work. We are grateful to Betty and Wendy for helping to make this possible today and for future generations.

Betty Bird

As a former teacher, the importance of education for children is something Betty Bird understands very well. "I brought my students to the Aquarium to engage their curiosity and imagination as they explored the exhibits. Participating in Aquarium education programs enabled them to open their thinking, broaden their interests and realize the urgent role they can play in safeguarding the planet. This would not have been possible without free admission."

Betty created the Leon Thomas and Betty Thomas Bird Endowment Fund as part of our Children's Education Endowment Fund to guarantee free admission for schoolchildren visiting the Aquarium, and to honor the memory of her brother, Leon.

Wendy Kwok

Wendy Kwok grew up in San Francisco appreciating nature walks with her parents, and now volunteers as a citizen scientist for National Marine Sanctuaries. Valuing innovation and continued learning, she established the Wendy W. Kwok and Family Endowment Fund for Education to support our professional development programs for science teachers.

Her endowment will help teachers instill in their students an active understanding of the natural world and the role they have to protect it. Wendy believes, "Teachers are critical influencers. When we want a good future, we must have great teachers. The Monterey Bay Aquarium inspires and cultivates the best out of each teacher."


Chuck and Carol Sweet

An Endowment for the Future of the Ocean

Chuck and Carol Sweet were donors since the Aquarium opened in 1984, and Carol volunteered in our development office for over eight years. Their very thoughtful gift from their estate plan established the Dr. Charles A. and Carol L. Sweet Endowment Fund, which will provide ongoing funding to help us inspire conservation of the ocean for generations to come. We will permanently recognize this special endowment at the Aquarium on our Benefactors' donor plaque.

We will always be thankful to Chuck and Carol—and all of our donors—for their generosity and dedication to the Aquarium and ocean conservation.


Thank you to our dedicated donors for their generous and thoughtful contributions. We are honored to recognize them for their gifts received in 2017.
View our donors


Leaving a Legacy for the Ocean

It is with deep gratitude and sadness that we acknowledge the kindness of our Ocean Legacy Circle donors who we recently lost:

  • E. James Archer
  • KerryLynn Blau
  • Mary Brenneisen
  • Nancy Dolton
  • Lowel Figen
  • M. Jean Fisher
  • Lavon I. Frazee
  • Betty Gorman
  • Lionel and Bernadine Goularte
  • Jill Nelson Lynch
  • Sharon McCormack
  • Gary D. Page
  • Lauren Petterson
  • Louis Sipos
  • Cynthia Stubbs
  • Chuck and Carol Sweet
  • Merrill “Sabrina” Sword
  • Ellen W. Weiss

We remain extremely honored by the loyalty and commitment of our 471 Ocean Legacy Circle donors. Their gifts in the future will be critical to meet the challenges that lie ahead and ensure a healthy ocean for future generations.


To learn how you can support the Aquarium through a bequest, contact Mary Mullen at mmullen@mbayaq.org or 831.648.4913. If you have included the Aquarium in your will or trust, please let us know so we may thank you and welcome you into our Ocean Legacy Circle.

Learn more



Annual Review 2017 (PDF)


  • Credits
  • © Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation